Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), born a slave, remembers how her mother encouraged her life of faith and prayer. In her narrative, Sojourner writes:
In the evening, when her mother’s work was done, she would sit down under the sparkling vault of heaven, and calling her children to her, would talk to them of the only Being that could effectually aid or protect them. Her teachings were delivered in Low Dutch, her only language, and, translated into English, ran nearly as follows:
“‘My children, there is a God, who hears and sees you.’ ‘AGod, Mau-mau! Where does he live?’ asked the children. ‘He lives in the sky,’ she replied; ‘and when you are beaten, or cruelly treated, or fall into any trouble, you must ask help of him, and he will always hear and help you.’ She taught them to kneel and say the Lord’s Prayer.
God does answer prayer! Just consider the following story, which unfolded in our office recently.
I first met her in 1997. A beloved CBE volunteer and a retired teacher, Mary (let’s call her) volunteers in CBE’s office quarterly. She lifts our administrative burdens by filing correspondence. She also brings joy into our office through her holiness and prayer. But not all organizations value her as a leader.
In 2002, her church revised their constitution to exclude females from teaching adult education, a task she had performed with skill and passion. Broken hearted, Mary realized she would no longer have the privilege of using her gifts of teaching adults. What was her response? Prayer! She and CBE prayed weekly for 10 years; asking God to give her elders a strong biblical understanding of leadership. You will be amazed at how God answered prayer!
This year, Mary’s church has been searching for an interim pastor. The committee identified three candidates, favoring one man in particular. There was only one objection. His wife serves as a chaplain in the armed services. She therefore exercises spiritual authority over men vocationally. However, despite the fact that his wife works as a chaplain, this candidate received sufficient favor among voting members to become Mary’s interim pastor! Our volunteer celebrated with CBE staff her happy news, thankful for a decade of prayer.
After praising God for this breakthrough, Mary began filing papers in our office. After about an hour, she approached me holding a piece of paper, with a a happy but startled look on her face. I asked, “What is the matter?” She replied, “I was filing forms of individuals who support the work of CBE and I found this!” Handing me the piece of paper she said, “This is the man who will be our interim pastor. He’s a CBE supporter.” Exuberantly, I shouted, “This is great news! God answered our prayers, right?” In her unflappable, Minnesota manner she said, “I suppose you are right.”
The very day she announces the happy news of answered prayer for a pastor, she also learns that he is someone who supports an organization that has spent 10 years praying for a pastor to model the message of biblical equality. God was showing our dear, faithful friend that God answers prayer! God was working intimately in her life, answering her deepest longing for a pastor who supports the leadership of women. And, God also allowed the CBE staff to see how God does answer prayer, giving us hope and faith to press on despite the time it often takes to see change. God answers prayer. As Sojourner Truth’s mother said, He “hears and sees you.” He will “hear and help you.”