More Than We Ask For
The Lord tells us, “Ask and you shall receive” and “You have not because you ask not.”
God wants us to ask in prayer. Sometimes, in our asking, we have no conception of how generously the Lord will answer. We ask, not out of God’s abundance, but out of our paltry understanding of His wondrous ability to provide. The following story tells how God responded to a small-sized request with a big-sized answer.
During my husband Elmon’s pastorate in Green Bay, Wisconsin, one of the elders suggested, “I think we need to sponsor a refugee family.” Elmon’s reply was, “Pray about it.” And the elder did.
Refugees from southeast Asia were settling in Green Bay, and soon a Hmong man appeared at our church. He and his family were welcomed with open arms. Then another came and another and still more, until the number was more than 100. At this point Elmon told the elder, “It’s OK to stop praying for a refugee family now!”
Some had become believers through the efforts of missionaries, but many were not Christians. They had many needs: housing, furniture, orientation to a new culture, instruction in English, work opportunities, and the list continued. There were questions, like one from a Laotian girl, “If I become a Christian, can I still go to the Buddhist temple?” The Hmong needed to stop worshipping spirits and the practice of sacrificing chickens. They needed to change marriage customs that included the kidnapping and raping of women. A whole culture needed to be changed and, mostly, they needed Jesus.
Since most were not conversant in English, they needed a worship service in their own language. They met on Sunday afternoons and the service was translated into Hmong and Lao. Elmon’s ten-minute sermon took 30 minutes to be delivered. They loved to sing and possessed written Hmong words to their hymns but no musical notation. We listened to them and found that missionaries had set the words to many of our familiar hymn tunes. An exception, a favorite, was sung to the tune of “When You and I Were Young, Maggie”!
Our congregation responded to the refugees’ needs — sometimes overwhelmed by all of them, but blessed in this big opportunity to serve. We saw some of the Hmong people come to faith and understanding. We were surprised and delighted by the gifts we received from them; patience, kindness, gentleness and eggrolls! It was a lesson of expecting God to do far more and better things even as we asked for small things.
We can take heart from the Scriptures even as we pray: Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask for or imagine according to the power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, forever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20).
Alma Ward, Hope member