For several weeks I awoke early in the morning with the sudden and urgent need to pray for my neighbors.
Praying—Yes. But Why?
I didn’t know who or what to pray for, but I lifted up our immediate neighbors in prayer, asking the Lord to be with whoever needed help. I told my husband and boys about these urgent awakenings and asked them to pray for our neighbors with me.
During this time, I happened to be visiting my Aunt Cindy. At the close of our visit, she grabbed a stack of prophecy brochures and said, “Take these. You can give them to your neighbors.” I took the brochures reluctantly, not knowing whom I could give them to. The meetings were to be held at my Aunt Cindy’s church, which we didn’t attend, and the seminar had already begun. But to be polite I took them and said I would pray about whom to give them to. Once home, I put the stack inside a drawer, not sure what to do about them, but I did make it a matter of prayer.
A few days later, my neighbor Wanda stopped by for a visit. As we were talking, the idea flashed into my mind that I should invite her to the prophecy seminars at my aunt’s church. No, she wouldn’t be interested, I thought to myself. The last time I brought up church in conversation, Wanda had ignored my comment and quickly began talking about something else. No, she definitely wouldn’t be interested. As we continued to talk, however, the urgency grew. Finally, just as Wanda was opening the door to leave, I thrust a brochure at her and blurted out, “Here’s something you might be interested in!”
Lifting the pamphlet close to her face to make out the fine print, she read quietly for a while, slightly nodding her head. Then she began reading out loud: “Mark of the beast?” I cringed inwardly. “Wait, are you a Seventh-day Adventist?” she asked. Taking a deep breath, I exclaimed, “Why yes, our whole family is! What do you know about SDAs?”
Wanda stared at me a moment before answering. Then she told me her story of how she had given her life to the Lord years before while living in Florida. She had even attended a prophecy seminar and been baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist faith. But then she had wandered away and became involved in other things.
Praying? Yes. And Wow!
“I would love to attend those meetings with you! When is the next one?” Wanda inquired. I was startled to find her so eager to attend.
Wanda earnestly listened each night of the seminar offered at the South Tacoma Fellowship church in Tacoma, Washington, with Pastor Bill McClendon presenting. On the night the subject dealt with the state of the dead, Wanda was especially intrigued.
“Did you already know all of this about the dead?” she asked me incredulously. “I am so happy to know where my young daughter is, asleep in the grave!” Wanda’s daughter had been killed in a tragic situation, a cause of much grief and pain for her.
Attending the meetings was a blessing for me as well. As I listened and took notes, I thanked God for our biblical beliefs and for the hope we have in Christ’s soon return. I was thrilled when Wanda indicated she wanted to be rebaptized and commit her life to the Lord.
“I’m just so sorry I didn’t invite you to church earlier,” I confessed after the meetings.
“Oh, don’t be,” Wanda quickly replied. “I wouldn’t have been ready to accept. The timing was just right for you to invite me when you did.”
It was a blessed day when Wanda was baptized by my Aunt Cindy Tutsch, while Pastor Bill McClendon officiated the service with our family providing the special music.
There’s good counsel on praying for your neighbors: “Learn to exercise faith in presenting your neighbors before the throne of grace and pleading with God to touch their hearts. In this way effectual missionary work may be done.”*
I was humbled and happy to have played a small part in helping to lead our neighbor Wanda to rededicate her life to the Lord!
* Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8 (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1904), p. 245.