It was around a dozen years ago that our lives were shattered when our son’s marriage broke up and he stopped following the Lord. We felt very lonely (though dear Christian friends sought to encourage us), as it was an experience we never expected to happen in our family which had been blessed over generations with those who loved and served the Lord.
Path trod by others
As we moved through those dark days, we slowly found that others had gone down the same path and they too felt discouraged and lonely. As we visited other churches, conferences and overseas in the Lord’s work, we found more and more who wanted to share with us. Slowly we built up a circle of Christian friends who wanted to pray for and encourage each other. So we built up a prayer circle to this end.
Persistence in prayer when you see no answer is a discipline. A prayer circle like this is an encouragement to keep on praying, believing the Lord hears and does, in his own time, answer prayer. Others formed more local prayer circles to the same end.
For some eight years we saw no changes in our loved ones, but then, a couple of years ago, we received the first good news.
One young man, brother of one of the ladies in the group, had left the Lord when his marriage broke up and was unable to continue at the church which his wife attended. As a result he became a backslider. He had now returned to the Lord. Slowly others were added to that number. An older couple, the brother and sister-in-law of one of our ladies, also came to faith. This was marvellous as it was just before the husband died. His conversion was the last in a large family of siblings.
Back to church
Recently we met a young couple who had also come to the Lord. The man had been a church worker and left the Lord; his wife had never walked with him. Now, both of them know the joy of sins forgiven. The story of their journey to faith was remarkable. One day the man said to his wife that he had been thinking for several months of returning to church. To his surprise, she had been exercised in the same way for the same period of time. They went back to the church, he returning to the Lord and she becoming a Christian. In the year or so since the first man repented, we have had eight that we have been able to ‘cross off’ our list. (We continue to remember them in these early days of their walk with God, of course).
What does this mean to us?
It is an encouragement to keep praying for the rest. When we shared the news with our prayer circle, one lady wrote that, when she heard the news, she danced around the kitchen praising God. For ourselves, we see God working in the lives of those similar to our son and take that as a promise that the Lord has not forgotten him.
How long, O Lord? That’s a question we often ask. But he encourages us to pray on, believing.