" . . . praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints." (Ephesisans 6:18)
Last December, when Susan Ellison was preparing to rejoin the Peru Mission team with her family after a year of furlough, she sought out friend and former teammate Allen Bradford to ask for prayer.
Allen welcomed the request. “I thought about getting together with Whitney Ueltschey to pray for [Susan] and the other women in Peru,” Allen says, “since we have both lived and served in Peru, and are now living in the same town.” Allen didn’t realize at that moment that their two-member prayer team could grow into something much more powerful, a group of women all across the U.S. who are bound together not by physical proximity but by shared experience, a love for the Lord, and a passion for prayer.
Allen, who served with Peru Mission with her husband Bill for ten years before returning to the U.S. three years ago, knew that the lessons God had taught her on the field made her particularly suited to pray for the women in Peru, but she also knew that her experiences were not unique. Once she had committed to pray for the women on the Peru Mission team, she realized that she had access to a network of women who had served with Peru Mission in the past and who knew, as she did, what it is like to be a woman serving God on the mission field. Some of these women had served for a few weeks at a time, others as interns and associate missionaries, and still others as long-term missionaries. “I realized that those of us who have lived and worked in Peru can pray and love in ways that others just can’t,” she shares, “and that is a special privilege we have.”
But how to get these women, scattered all over the U.S., together to pray? “The Lord impressed upon my heart that with the easy communication we have these days, physical location doesn't matter,” she says. Allen realized that physically being in each other’s presence simply wasn’t a requirement for forming a group dedicated to prayer. “Any of us who lived in Peru and understand what that is like can pray together at the same time no matter where we are. ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name . . .’ doesn’t just mean physically.”
Twenty-four ladies accepted Allen’s invitation to pray regularly for their sisters in Peru. Each month, Allen sends out two emails: one to the women in Peru seeking their prayer requests, and one to the group in the States with the prayer requests reminding them to pray. The women then pray the third Thursday of each month.
Allen Bradford and Whitney Ueltschey join the women of Peru Mission for encouragement and fellowship on a recent visit to Peru
While prayer needs vary from woman to woman, Allen highlights several challenges she faced when on the field, including maintaining unity (within her family, the team, and the church), finding contentment in the midst of hardship, finding balance between ministry and family, and being fed spiritually when church services are held in an unfamiliar language.
“I battled bitterness for living in the middle of a culture I didn’t understand and [that] frustrated me,” she recalls, “for feeling dumb because the language difference meant I couldn’t express myself, for being so far from family and friends at special/hard times, for making less money than other friends in the U.S.A. and having to worry about bills all the time, for feeling so helpless and overwhelmed in the face of [the] many huge problems that are in Peru, for having to say goodbye so frequently to loved ones, to other missionaries leaving the field, to short-term teams.”
Prayer is vitally important to help missionary women overcome these and other challenges, and so is loving encouragement. In addition to prayer, Allen has encouraged the group to consider other ways of serving the women in Peru, including making phone calls and sending notes of encouragement, books, and care packages.
Over the past few months, this remarkable group of prayer warriors has become a vital part of our support team in the U.S., and we are so thankful for their sacrificial and loving service for the women in our community at Peru Mission. If you are interested in joining this group of ladies, or are thinking of starting your own prayer group in your church or neighborhood (or virtual community), feel free to email Allen Bradford.
Wed, March 28, 2012
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