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How to pray for missionaries for over 50 years: Jeannette’s story

Jeannette, who has supported OMF ministry and prayed for many China Inland
Mission, and now OMF workers for over 57 years since she was a teenager, shares her
experiences of prayer – and seeing God at work.

Jeannette was born in China, but her family migrated to Australia in 1951 where she came to
faith through a Billy Graham Crusade in her teens.

Jim Kuswadi, who became a Christian whilst studying in Australia returned to Indonesia in 1970 
and founded Perkantas, the Christian student movement in Indonesia as its first staffworker. 
Jeannette married Jim in 1972. After they returned to Australia in 1974 Jim went into business. 
They supported the OMF ministry through prayer, giving and hospitality to missionary families. 
Jim has been on the State Council and Jeannette currently serves on the OMF Australia Board.

The main image above shows Jim Kuswadi (on the left) interpreting for Dr Bel Magalit, Associate General Secretary in East Asia for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), at the 1973 Perkantas conference.

Jeannette Kuswadi

As you’ve prayed for various missionaries over the years, can you share some instances you’ve seen God work?  

Wow there must be hundreds of God’s gracious answers to prayers. Some came clearly and quickly, others after persevering prayers over a longer period of time. 

When my husband Jim was the first staff worker and started the Perkantas ministry (Indonesian Christian student movement), we were blessed by the encouraging fellowship of OMF workers. We were invited to the OMF conference which I was anticipating with great eagerness.

I was surprised that some of the women were less enthusiastic. I was told, ‘Every year the children get sick and pass their germs on to each other and it was not a happy time at all.’ I decided to ask the Lord to please keep all the children healthy that year. At the end of the conference, when I asked about the children, I was told, ‘No one got sick!’ There was praise and thanksgiving. I have had a special concern for the children of missionaries and would pray for them as well as their parents and their ministry. 

About fifteen years ago, a family went from our church to serve in Thailand. Their church was predominantly women. There were no mature Christian men and there were no men becoming Christians. As prayer secretary, I encouraged our church to pray for Christian men. At a later home assignment, our missionaries started showing men among their keen converts who later became leaders.

Praise God for answered prayers.

What ‘habits’ have helped you pray? 

When I receive a missionary prayer letter, I try to find a time to pray as soon as possible. I summarise the points in my response to these missionaries. Then I can usually remember them. I appreciate emails when there is time and space to focus, and with shorter text messages I try to stop what I am doing and pray straight away. With anything urgent, I try to remember to pray as often as I can, otherwise I pray for those missionaries on their regular day. I try to divide the missionaries whom I support into regions and have tried to pray for them on a particular day of the week.

Are there particular Bible verses that have helped you to pray? 

Colossians 4:2-4 says, ‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.’

Probably the verse that I think about a lot in relation to any prayer is: ’You do not have because you do not ask God.’ James 4:2c. I would like to ‘pray first’ and seek God about every issue that comes up. Sadly I am not very consistent in fulfilling this aim. I need to say that I am not always faithful and consistent in my prayer support, but God is patient and he graciously uses each one of us despite our weaknesses. May all the glory be to God alone.

The best prayer meetings you’ve attended – what did you find uplifting and encouraging?   

At OMF gatherings when some OMF workers share what has been happening and their prayer needs, and we break up into groups of about three people and pray straight away – this seems to be very meaningful to me. (I sometimes find it hard to pray through lists of prayer points if I don’t have any personal connection with the place or people.) 

In lockdown, the daily OMF morning devotional and prayer times have been on Zoom. I was welcomed into that group and joined a few days each week. I could write a book about the OMF workers wanting to return home during the past year. Australia’s borders were closed since March 2020. Almost everyone’s flight was cancelled but they were able to get alternative flights in answer to prayer. God is sovereign, faithful and answers prayers.

Are there any books you’ve found helpful in praying for missionaries and would recommend? 
In my student days I read the two large volume biography of Hudson Taylor, The Growth of a Soul and The Growth of a Work of God. These books had a profound influence on me. I wanted to adopt Hudson Taylor’s motto ‘moving men through God by prayer alone’ as much as possible.

These books are no longer in print but there are numerous more recent biographies of Dr Taylor which are worth reading such as Roger Steer’s J.Hudson Taylor: A Man In Christ. I think I read ALL the CIM biographies that were available in my younger days!

Other books I would recommend: 
•    The Great Commission by Rose Dowsett
•    Through All The Changing Scenes by David W. Ellis
•    Created for Commitment by A. Wetherell Johnson – a wonderful story of a CIM missionary in China who started Bible Study Fellowship with now more than 400 000 people studying the Bible each week around the world. 
•    God’s Faithfulness and Family Matters by OMF. Each of these books has a number of testimonies from missionary families – very encouraging with numerous answers to prayer.

Thank you Jeannette for sharing of your experiences seeing God work through prayer! May the Lord continue to be gracious and work through the persevering prayers of many. 

Find prayer resources from OMF here, including a rhythm of prayer for missionaries and prayer guides for the countries of East Asia.

Looking for resources to support your prayer life? Prayermate is an excellent free app for your smartphone that helps organise your prayer life and provides regularly updated prayer points from OMF and many other Christian organisations. 

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