Avails How Much?

It was a balmy day in Shanghai. I stepped off the train and inhaled the smell of smog and filth – the unmistakable odour of Asia. Despite overnighting on a train from Beijing, I was not tired at all. Today was the culmination of months of preparation. Today we would deliver our precious cargo.

Though I travelled with a large group we split into manageable teams and left at scheduled times from various side streets so as not to draw attention. The cab sped past unfinished buildings encased in bamboo scaffolding and street hawkers selling their wares. A city so modern, yet so ancient at the same time.

Eventually we stopped in front of a large bolted gate. Our leader whispered through an opening and we were allowed in. We wound through corridors and up several flights of stairs before arriving at Aunty’s apartment.

I stepped into the dimly lit space and handed Aunty my overnight bag. She smiled and bowed in recognition of the gift – Chinese Study Bibles that would ultimately make their way to remote parts of China.

It was a dream come true. My childhood Brother Andrew comic well worn, all my life I pictured myself taking risks like this for Jesus. And there I was. Doing it. Changing my life.

My short time with Aunty – a ninety-year-old patriarch of the underground church – was incredible. To my surprise, the moment that impacted me most was not the thrill of hiding Bibles in trap doors and under floorboards. It was the moment we shared in prayer.

She prayed in Chinese and we prayed in English. It was a beautiful thing to join in something beyond the barrier of language and into the realm where we are all one in Christ.

I have never been one to shy away from praying. I was taught to pray the Word and pray it loud. There’s always lots of rocking and hand motions that contribute to my prayers – I don’t hold back. And I didn’t hold back while I prayed for Aunty, the Chinese church and recipients of the Bibles. Tears and fire tumbled from my heart.

The wild, undignified prayer of the righteous avails much…

How much?

Far over and above all you could ask or imagine?

Unbeknownst to me, a man filmed my prayer. He took it home and showed his wife.

Who then shared the video of my impassioned prayer with her brother.

Who came back to Australia to marry me.

Here is where God does what He does best – takes a humble prayer and makes it fireworks. How could a prayer I prayed all my life be answered with a prayer – prayer for someone else, a sacrifice on behalf of another?

But God. Only God.

Sometimes prayers answer prayers that were never prayed. Sometimes prayers go further than our imagination.

China was unforgettable for many reasons but none more so than the lesson I learnt about prayer. Without a doubt I know the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous avails so very, very much.

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More about Sarah Coleman

Sarah Coleman is wife, mother of two boys, writer, pastor, teacher and friend. She loves Jesus with a passion and the feel of Australian sand beneath her toes.

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