Impacting the world, label by label
While looking for stuff to shred a couple months ago, I ran across my first prayer journal. Reflective of what I didn’t know in 1987 about the church around world, my “Places with few Christians” list contained only three countries: North Korea, Mongolia and Saudi Arabia.
I don’t remember writing that list. But it reveals what Jesus burdened me with early on. Not only was the persecuted church on my heart from the ground floor of my walk with Christ, but also that last nation has been on my prayer radar from nearly the outset.
So a decade later when our family’s healthcare provider recommended a detox fast that called for fresh-squeezed citrus, I noticed something curious about the little plastic lemon-juicer: The words on its base noted it was made in Saudi Arabia.
That kitchen gadget the size of a teacup saucer piqued my imagination. Whose had it been? How did it get here? And I wondered about the factory that produced it in a land enshrouded in mystery. I knew no one who had ever visited that country, let alone any Saudis.
Back then the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was noted for its oil. Who knew that it had a manufacturing sector? Somehow the juicer made its way from across the world to a garage sale where I picked it up.
I had an idea: What if I prayed for everybody in the supply chain who had a role in making this little yellow contraption and connecting me with it? I’d be praying for a lot of somebodys: The engineers who designed it. Laborers who poured molten mass into molds and popped out the finished products. Machinists. Maintenance workers. Folks who packed the juicers into boxes, forklift operators who loaded boxes into shipping containers, truckers who drove them to warehouses and shipping containers and beyond. Managers and assistants, delivery people, truck drivers, janitors, sales. Those who put it in a suitcase where it ended up in Austin. All the folks in all kitchens who made lemonade with it.
That’s a lot of folks. I quit juicing lemons, but to this day that juicer reminds me to pray for Saudi Arabia.
One day while hanging a wash load, I noticed the tags in each wet piece of laundry: Made in Pakistan. Made in Brazil. Made in Vietnam. Mexico. Bangladesh. Nicaragua. China. What if I prayed for everyone who had a hand in producing my family’s jeans, T-shirts, socks and towels?
That’s how labels became a big part of my global prayer agenda. From there I thought about the folks who twisted plastic-coated ties that secure the cord of the Costco fan we bought last month (made in China). The assembly line end worker in some city unknown to me who wraps and tapes parts in plastic and makes everything fit just so into the box. The hands that stapled hardware to cardboard and slid each little metal setting that I transform into earrings. The mariners who transport goods in ships across oceans into the Port of Houston en route to an Austin Hobby Lobby.
Prayers vary, but Moms in Prayer grounded me in declaring Acts 16:31 and Acts 26:18 over decades of people worldwide I don’t know, souls whom I’ve prayed for and hope to meet in Glory. Additionally I stand on John 10:28-29 as the Holy Spirit directs.
God has spectacularly answered my anemic prayers for Saudi Arabia in ways I won’t fully understand til I’m debriefing with Jesus over coffee in glory. He’s given me a deep, abiding love for the Saudi people. What if He and I drink from matching mugs? I think it’ll be this one:
Someday here on earth, I trust I’ll meet a Saudi plastics worker to whom Jesus appeared after my lemon-juicer-inspired prayer. That will be glory for me.
Deann Alford, author of Victorious: The Impossible Path to Peace, is a writer based in Austin, Texas, where she lives with her husband, Doug, and Weasley the wonder cat.