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What Happens When God Answers Prayer?

Fruit, More Fruit, Much Fruit in Guatemala

Grape cluster photo courtesy of Jassy Onyae on Unsplash (https://unsplash.com/@jassyonyae).Fruit, more fruit, much fruit1

Have you noticed what happens when God answers prayer? Answered prayers generate the need for more prayer! This is part of God’s design for us to grow in our fruitfulness, responsibility, and Christlikeness. It moves us along the “fruitfulness spectrum” that Jesus laid out for us: First “fruit” (John 15:2b), then “more fruit” (John 15:2c), and finally “much fruit” (John 15:5,8). And notice how this “fruit” passage intersects with prayer — “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:7-8).

When what we pray in Jesus’ name receives an answer from the Father, we aren’t allowed to pause too long and just bask in the enjoyment. “Walking in the Spirit,” by the very nature of the analogy, requires constant forward motion. So it was with February’s missions trip to Guatemala. Our heavenly Father blessed us with a bumper-crop of answers to our prayers for this trip, orchestrating affairs in extraordinary ways. Yet just about every one of those answers gives rise to the need for more praying! Let me give you just three examples.

“Your Loosened Tongue Employ.”

Hear Him, ye deaf! His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ…2

Photo of Jim Kerwin preaching in SpanishSurprised, apprehensive, and happy
to be preaching in Spanish!3

Prayer #1: We’ve been praying that the Lord would help me to preach and teach in Spanish without the need of an interpreter. For seven years or so, I’ve studied faithfully, worked regularly with a gracious Spanish tutor, and spent about six weeks in an “immersion” language school. On average, I invest 60-90 minutes in Spanish on most non-travel days. But not living continually in the midst of the language makes fluency a challenge.

A Specific Answer: Barely two hours after arriving in Guatemala, I was asked to preach the next day at a church in Zona 6, Guatemala City. But the request came with a twist — no interpreter would be provided! The Lord stepped in and answered our prayers, and for the second time in nine months, I received an infilling of the Holy Spirit and my “loosened tongue” was “employed” to preach in pretty decent Spanish. An answer to prayer, right? Yes—praise God! But…

More Prayer: …that success also creates assumptions among the brethren that I can do this every time I’m called upon to speak. The bar of expectation has been raised. My day of functional fluency is coming, but it’s not here quite yet. Now we must pray that my Spirit-loosened “Spanish tongue” would be employed even more in the Lord’s work in Latin America and beyond!

“The Most High Is Ruler Over the Realm of Men…”

“…the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind
and bestows it on whomever He wishes.”
(Daniel 4:25,32)

Photo of Atilio and Gladys Chávez and Pastor Jorge PérezAtilio and Gladys Chávez with Pastor Jorge Pérez4
Photo of ISP delegates votingThe vote5Photo of Atilio Chávez in the pulpit“New” superintendent Atilio Chávez6

Prayer #2: For four years a group of us has been praying for the superintendency of the work in Guatemala. The current, long-term, fruitful superintendent, Atilio Chávez, had every intention of stepping down, but it seemed God’s ways were not man’s ways. We had prayed for God to sovereignly oversee His choice for the next superintendent, and He did so wonderfully. “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37).

Answer #2: Less than 48 hours before the vote, two visiting American denominational leaders were instrumental in appealing to Atilio to reconsider his resignation, sensing that God wanted him to continue in this service to the churches. Atilio prayed, and convinced this was God’s will, he submitted the matter to his advisory board, and they agreed unanimously. After the ninety voting delegates to the conference had time to digest the unexpected change (aided by the wise, inspired, and even humorous counsel of a Spirit-filled Baptist lawyer), their response was unanimous as well. God accomplished His will, within a spirit of unity. All praise to Him!

More Prayer #2: We can ask that Atilio’s “more fruit”— at home and internationally—becomes “much fruit” over these next four years, and that God would sovereignly prepare a man of like mind and heart to eventually pick up Atilio’s mantle.

Connections—“What every joint supplies”

…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Ephesians 4:15-16 nasb

Photo of missionary Ron Roy and Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr.At lunch with Ron Roy (Regional Director) and Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr. (international Presiding Bishop)7
Photo of missionary Ron Roy with superintendent David MooreRon Roy with David Moore (Mississippi superintendent and former Latin American missionary)8
Photo of Pastor Raúl ReyesPastor Raúl Reyes of Indio, California9
Praying over the Guatemalan leadership teamPraying over the Guatemalan leadership team
(Click on the image above to see
a larger version of the photo.)
10

Prayer #3: Divine connections and appointments! Not being affiliated with a denomination has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage includes open access to teach groups as diverse as Pentecostals, Baptists, holiness folk, and independents. We’re not prepared (as my mentor Percy Gutteridge once said) to “break a lance” on behalf of any denomination or party, since God has called us to minister to the Body of Christ. But one disadvantage is that we can be “held at arm’s length” until we’re better known and our ministry has proven fruit. Since a lot of our teaching in Latin America winds up being within one denomination, not having connections and not being “a known quantity” has presented challenges now and then. Personal contact can open doors; hence the prayer, which God strongly put on our hearts, for divine connections and appointments.

Answer #3: How did the Lord answer? By sovereignly arranging for me to have some quality time with key figures. Consider:

  • By Atilio’s insistence and his arrangement of transportation (and, I suspect, because he felt it was important for me to make the connection), I was able to spend over six hours of heart-to-heart fellowship with the international head of his denomination.
  • Having been blessed with nearly instant rapport with the supervising missionary for Guatemala, México, and Belize, during the several hours we spent together I was able to hear his heart and something of his plans for Bible training in Guatemala.
  • I also learned a lot from a couple who spent about fifteen years of missionary ministry in Latin America (eight of those in Guatemala), and from a dynamic, young Mexican-American who pastors a church with an amazing community outreach in Indio, California.

More Prayer #3: Is there a “more prayer” here? Oh, yes! Out of all these divinely-arranged connections and discussions several things have been floated as future ministry possibilities, including an invitation to teach in Belize, an opportunity to participate in a proposed Bible college program in Guatemala, and (through mutual acquaintances) a possible invitation to re-visit Romania.

“Much Prayer, Much Power” — and Much Fruit!

Guatemalan leaders prayingGuatemalan leaders praying11

Peter Deyneka, founder of the Slavic Gospel Association, often declared his watchword: “Much prayer, much power!” I’m certain he knew that answered prayers generate the need for more prayer. Jesus has given us fruit over our years of teaching ministry; and more fruit in answered prayer during this trip; all with a view of obtaining much fruit if we continue to take up our prayer responsibilities.

In a very real sense, the amazing results of this trip are your fruit! Many of you have prayed faithfully for our teaching ministry; others have given as led, and a few are giving monthly. We thank you, our behind-the-scenes co-laborers, for all your prayer covering and support and encouragement.


Guatemala-flagged-themed imageDenise and I return to Guatemala in May…12
Image of the Grand Seal of the Republic of Perú…and continue on to Perú in June.13

Now, while the possibilities mentioned above are maturing in God’s timing (nobody likes un-ripe fruit!), we have some immediate requests for support and prayer:

  • Publishing: Technical difficulties to overcome in publishing the new paperback edition of Percy Gutteridge’s timeless book Faith Is Substance.
  • Invitation: Wisdom for God’s timing in scheduling a teaching visit to Honduras.
  • Infilling: All the time, of course, but specifically for teaching at North Florida Theological Seminary over Easter weekend in April.
  • Preparation and Supply for our May-June teaching trip to Guatemala and Perú.

Praying that our Father would be glorified as we bear much fruit together,

Jim

Tax-Deductible Donations Gratefully Received

 


Endnotes:

  1. Grape cluster photo courtesy of Jassy Onyae on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/@jassyonyae.
  2. This couplet is from Charles Wesley's glorious lyrics in Hymn to Be Sung on the Anniversary of One's Birth, better known to most people as O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.
  3. Photo of Jim preaching taken by Atilio Chávez.
  4. Photo by Jim Kerwin.
  5. Photo by Jim Kerwin.
  6. Photo by Jim Kerwin.
  7. Photo by Jim Kerwin.
  8. Photo courtesy of Eric Ortíz López.
  9. Photo by Jim Kerwin.
  10. Photo by Jim Kerwin.
  11. Photo courtesy of Eric Ortíz López
  12. Photo by Denise Kerwin.
  13. Peruvian Grand Seal image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Huhsunqu (Guillermo Romero).
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