Prayer – The Way Of Victory
By Lois J. Stucky
Through the years God has brought much encouragement to us at Herald of His Coming through the letters of readers. Time and again we have been inspired and heartened by ones whose letters encourage us onward with a new spring in our steps. We want to march shoulder to shoulder with them, for we sense they are ones who like us, are striving to be truehearted, wholehearted soldiers of the Lamb-King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
One such brother is John Paul Griggs. For over thirty years we have been privileged to have fellowship by letter with Brother Griggs. Now he and his wife have retired to Tennessee from serving the Lord as missionaries in Zimbabwe with the Southern Baptist Convention. They are by no means retired from serving the Lord, however.
With wonderful regularity Brother Griggs' letters and gifts came through the years. Messages were short, as appropriate for a busy missionary, and from time to time there came lists of African Baptist pastors to whom he asked us to send Herald of His Coming. "What a wonderful opportunity!" we thought. Pastors are key people for reaching others. Quite possibly many in the congregations of these pastors could not read, but the rich truths that had blessed us and were printed in the Herald papers, could be passed on through sermons the pastors preached. How glad we were to see the ministry of the paper broadened in this way!
Now that we are having fellowship by phone with Brother Griggs, we learn more about these lists of pastors. Brother Griggs told us he himself had first begun reading Herald of His Coming as a young man studying physics in university. It was also while in university that he heard the call of God to preach the Gospel, and he left the study of physics to train for the ministry. After Brother Griggs and his wife served for a short time at a church in Kentucky, they went to what was then Rhodesia and is the present-day Zimbabwe.
Brother Griggs' ministry in Africa began with a group of four churches. To start with, the little congregations met under a tree. When Brother Griggs left Zimbabwe after 35 years of ministry, there were 365 churches, to the glory and praise of God!
Brother Griggs' plan for multiplying was to go to outlying villages and find a layman willing to start a church meeting in his home. First it was only family and close friends gathering, but as the laymen were discipled by Brother Griggs they grew in the knowledge of God's Word and in ability to conduct church services. The layman-preachers were helped if necessary to find a job to support themselves. "Discipling Revivals" gathered church-leader laymen for further training, systematically continuing sessions several times a year for four years. Evangelists helped continue the work. The goal was to have the work in the hands of African leadership as soon as possible.
It was easy to introduce Herald of His Coming to the African leaders since English is taught in the schools and the Africans have a good understanding of the language. With enthusiasm the pastors told Brother Griggs how helpful Herald of His Coming proves to be to them in sermon preparation.
Brother Griggs also had liberty to preach the Gospel in public schools on a Sunday afternoon, sometimes to as many as 1000 young people. Seventy-five might remain for counseling and prayer.
Brother and Sister Griggs were in Rhodesia at the time of terrorism and war in the country. Travel to the outlying areas was restricted to traveling in convoys, as lone vehicles could be ambushed. Armed guards traveled at the front and end of the convoy line of vehicles. Later Brother Griggs went on preaching tours into Mozambique, where war had likewise created uncertain conditions.
The help Russian Communists gave to Zimbabwe ceased several years ago, but the Chinese carry on projects such as building roads. Thus is maintained a Communist influence in the country. The government is not now renewing work permits for missionaries, and the number of missionaries is greatly reduced. This impresses us with the importance of continuing as wide a distribution of Herald of His Coming in Zimbabwe as the Lord enables, to help fill the gap.
Whatever can be done to strengthen and encourage the African pastors is important. African nations rank among those in which the church is growing most rapidly. Many Africans are animistic, Brother Griggs said. This is a religion of fear. Since they want to escape from fear, African animists respond to Christianity readily, but they also respond to other religions which offer relief from fear. Atheistic materialism is one that ensnares some. "The challenge," Brother Griggs stated, "is to reach them for Christ before other religions get to them."
On the Mission Field of America
Now Brother Griggs is busy in the mission field of America. It is encouraging to him to gather with some pastors who meet together and pray in his area of eastern Tennessee. They are one in heart in advancing God's kingdom. Brother Griggs continues to send names of pastors and others to "keep spiritual fires stoked up." In sad contrast to these devoted brethren are those in churches which have lost the vision.
Brother Griggs has been amazed and appalled to see what is going on in the schools of this country. When his father was a Superintendent of schools in Texas, he had a Gideon's Bible on every teacher's desk. Now schools are not allowed to display even God's Ten Commandments. Brother Griggs himself has a unique opportunity, however. He is wanted in schools to display African mementos and share about the country in geography classes. Closing with an African story gives opportunity to share the Gospel.
In the church in which he serves as part-time staff, he has organized a group of men to gather for "intensive prayer" during the services, while the pastor is preaching. He encourages the men to do this one week out of the month. At one such service, while the praying group was in prayer, ten in the service responded to the altar call. It brought great joy to see some for whom prayer had been going up for some time, yield to the Lord in answer to prayer.
The praying groups have a list of church prayer requests to remember in times of prayer also. It is a full sheet of requests, since the church has a congregation of about 1200.
A number of men from the church, including Brother Griggs, attended Promise Keepers "Stand in the Gap" time of prayer and repentance in Washington, D.C. These men have returned home "fired up" to pray, he said. A leader is working with these men on Sundays at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, encouraging them in the seven promises to which they have committed themselves.
The church visitation night is also preceded by a time of prayer. Brother Griggs was deeply touched at such a gathering recently, when teen-age girls in the meeting were calling out with tears to God for unsaved friends and for others for whom they are burdened.
Brother Griggs shared about a man who had enrolled to attend a seminary when a small church of 57 called him to be pastor. It was important to determine God's will, for there were strong human influences toward seminary training. After he and his wife sought the Lord, they felt led to take the church. Now it has grown until a large complex is needed to house them. Prayer was the way of growth. He started out with seven men in his congregation praying while he preached. Later he raised it to 25 men and women who were scattered throughout the congregation praying.
Brother Griggs stressed that as well as the upward thrust of prayer to God there must be the downward thrust against Satan, binding him. Many Christians do not know or do not practice the downward thrust against Satan. The church in America today is too much a "spectator" church, he perceives. Christians attend the services but are not active. Too many want Christ as Saviour but do not yield to Him as Lord.
When preaching on the Great Commission, Brother Griggs related to us, he often tells the congregation that the Great Commission begins with worshiping Christ as Lord. He stresses that we are to "make disciples"--not converts, but disciples, real followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to teach all things that Jesus taught. We are to continue growing until Jesus comes!
Many Christians are loaded down with problems today, he has observed. "We need to glance at the problems but gaze at the Lord," he said. He is expecting a revival that will go around the world, encompassing all people.
How grateful we are to have the fellowship of Brother Griggs, and his encouragement as he serves on the Advisory Board. His prayers and insights have been strengthening to us.
Please pray for him and his family as well. Brother and Sister Griggs have four lovely daughters and a son, all loving the Lord. The son, Philip, is looking forward to missionary service, and has already been used of the Lord in the Philippines. He saw a Chinese church which started with three grow to be a congregation of 500. Following in the footsteps of his father, he has turned leadership over to the Chinese and is ready to move on elsewhere. Brother Griggs has provided him with much material on prayer, and Philip is sensing along with his father that prayer is the way of victory.
At Herald of His Coming we also are convinced that our help is in the Lord and this help is given in answer to prayer. To you friends of the Herald Prayer Force who have committed to pray daily for one year, we say there is no way to measure the help given as you faithfully call upon God on behalf of His ministry here. To every praying friend, whether or not you have written to have your name on the list, we are thankful for your prayers. It is great encouragement to know that God has gathered a much larger team than the handful of workers at headquarters, to carry on the work He commissioned Herald of His Coming to do.