/Tuesday, February 18, 2020
How should we pray when considering major life-changing opportunities?
In 2003, our family took a huge step of faith to follow God’s plan for our lives. We left 15 years of pastoral ministry to become missionaries with a focus on training pastors and church planters in southern Africa.
The way in which we came to this decision was supernatural or one could say it was miraculous. We asked God for his guidance, and he gave it.
The phone call was a surprise when I was invited to become part of the OC Africa team in Johannesburg. My wife and I were not looking for a change but God presented an opportunity that we had to consider. We agreed to pray about it.
The move began a couple of weeks later as we were praying with family and friends. I don’t remember what any of us prayed that day except for one phrase that our friend Cathy said. “Lord, please give Craig and Heather multiple confirmations of your plans for them.”
It didn’t mean much at the time, but in the days to come it would find great meaning and significance, so much so, that I would write about it today, 17 years later.
We returned home that night, and there were no great epiphanies or voices from Heaven telling us to go to Africa, but in the days to come, we would hear the voice of God like never before in our lives.
Confirmation #1 - God spoke to us through our family.
The very next morning, we got up in the morning with our four boys, and Joel (about 4 years old at that time and completely unaware of what we were considering) asked me, “Dad, will you take me to South Africa for my birthday?”
Those words still send a shiver down my spine. I asked Joel where he had heard of South Africa. I wondered if he had overheard us talking in the last few days. He innocently replied, “Grandpa went there, and they have zebras there.”
God spoke to us through our family.
Confirmation # 2 – God spoke to us through friends and circumstances.
I am not usually good at journaling, but during this time, I started to keep a journal where I would write down some of my prayers, questions, and some of the growing list of confirmations that were happening.
The following weekend we had a couple of guys from Nanaimo staying with us while they attended a youth conference in Edmonton. As a thank you gift, they gave me a copy of Henry Blackaby’s new book, Hearing God’s Voice. Here is a snippet of the opening to chapter one, “Does God speak to people today? Does God really call people to be missionaries in Africa?”
God spoke to us through friends and circumstances.
Confirmation #3 – God spoke to us through his Word.
Not all of the confirmations were this bold, but some of the subtle ones included suddenly noticing how many products in our home were from South Africa.
A few months later, I was preaching through an eight week series on the life of David as God raised him up, chose him, and called him to a ministry that was far beyond what any young shepherd boy could ever dream or imagine. As I worked through that series, each message was speaking to me, just as much as it was speaking to the congregation.
God spoke to us through his Word.
Confirmation #4 – God spoke to us through a Pastor.
In late July of that year, about four months after the initial phone call, we had an opportunity to make a family trip down to visit friends in the USA. While on vacation, we went to church with our friends.
I remember sitting down in the enormous sanctuary and wondering to myself, "How does anyone ever experience God individually in such an enormous service?" The worship was very impressive, and the special music was concert quality (after all, we were in Nashville).
The pastor spoke on Nehemiah 1. The main part of the message that spoke to me was that there had been so many people in Jerusalem who knew that the walls were down but would not do anything about it. They had lots of excuses for not doing what God wanted them to do:
- “I am too busy with my family or building my business.”
- “I don’t know how to do that.”
- “Someone else can do a better job than me.”
- “I will help with that when I finish what I am doing, or when my kids are grown up.” etc.
Many of these excuses were similar to the reasons that Heather and I had for postponing a launch into missionary work in Africa. Once again, in this mega-church setting, God was speaking to me.
God spoke to us through a pastor.
Confirmation #5 – God clears the path for us to walk in obedience to him.
We surrendered and agreed to become missionaries to Africa, but the confirmations did not stop. Little things continued to happen: the sale of a house, the raising of financial support, the unexpected support of family and friends. It was clear that this was the path that God wanted us to take.
God clears the path for us to walk in obedience to him.
On the Path
I will never forget the prayer that Cathy prayed in my Dad’s living room. It changed our lives and opened our eyes and ears to see and hear the voice of God as we asked him for direction.
He never showed us his whole plan, but he would show us each new step as we needed to take it. I started writing our monthly newsletter and called it “On The Path” because that is where we are…We are on the path that God is directing for our lives, our ministry, and our family.
When we feel uncertain or when I wonder if I have stepped off of the path to one side or the other, I come back to the Lord in prayer and ask him once again to provide some of those simple confirmations.
Sometimes they are big and impossible to miss, other times they are very small and probably unnoticeable to anyone else, but I have learned that when I ask and listen, the Lord is always faithful to provide multiple confirmations.
This is the 2nd article in a Blog Series on "The Search for Meaning".
You can read the 1st article here: "The Search for Meaning: 5 Simple Steps" where I walk through 5 Simple Steps to Search for God's Unique Purpose for your Life.
When Craig Kraft was very young, he wanted to be a policeman or a cowboy. Later in life, he dreamed of being a professional fisherman or the manager of a remote wilderness lodge. Craig served as a pastor in BC and Alberta for 16 years before joining OC in the area of Church Health and Revitalization. Craig, and his wife Heather, served with OC for three years in southern Africa before he became the Executive Director of Outreach Canada in 2008. Craig loves to watch sports, work in the yard & spend time in the woods. He values that OC is a team of passionate people who work together toward the goal of discipling people into the kingdom of God and he loves the opportunities he has to work with so many different people across Canada & the world.