In conversation with my dad, last night, I was reminded again of the power of prayer.
Back in the 1940's, a young woman named Sophie Muller, went to Colombia as a missionary. She wanted to take the gospel to the unreached tribes of the Guainia and Vichada regions, deep in the rain forest.
My dad told me that at some point, my great-grandmother heard about Sophie and began praying for her. Sophie was working with around 7 different primitive people groups -- a huge undertaking for one woman. So my great-grandmother began to pray that God would raise up more people to go help Sophie Muller. She also decided to pray that some of her grandchildren would become missionaries.
God answered both prayers. In the mid-70's, my parents went to live as missionaries with the Piapoco, a tribal group in which Sophie had already been working. (During the 70's and 80's, many more missionaries came to work with the tribes in that region as well, until Marxist guerrillas took over, forcing them out.)
As a child, I was unaware of what a remarkable woman Sophie was. I just remember that my parents enjoyed spending time with her and that every time she came, she always had chocolate bars for us -- a rare treat in such a remote place.
Sophie had many enemies who tried to stop her from teaching about God -- in particular, the guerrillas. My dad shared that one time he was traveling with her in a dugout canoe and outboard motor on the Guaviare River, going home after teaching in some villages. As they headed upriver, they were met by two Piapoco men in canoes who called them over. These men told Sophie and my dad that earlier, they had passed by a group of guerrillas waiting in boats where a small tributary, the Brazo, met up with the Guaviare. They intended to ambush Sophie when she came by and these men wanted to warn her.
After some discussion, my dad and Sophie decided to pray for the Lord's protection and continue on their way. My dad said that he was afraid and he knew Sophie was too, but they had to keep going.
As they neared the merging of the Brazo and the Guaviare, the sky opened up and poured down rain. The rain was so heavy that they could hardly see a few feet in front of them. My dad had to slow down the motor to a crawl in order to see where they were going through the rain and fog that was creeping in. They passed by the area where the guerrillas were waiting without harm. Between the heavy rain drowning out the sound of the motor and the fog shrouding the boat, no one could see them and they made it home safely.
Just one story of many where God answered prayer and kept His servants safe. Sophie continued to work among those tribes until old age and sickness forced her to return to the U.S., where she passed away. After 50 years as a missionary, she left an amazing legacy and many lives were changed because of her faithfulness.
(Side note: Even though many missionaries had to evacuate that region, some, like my parents, have been able to continue working. With the aid of the U.S., the Colombian military has been able to arrest many of the guerrillas in that area, bringing much-needed stability. Hundreds of tribal teens who had been forced to join the guerrillas are returning to their villages, asking for someone to teach them about God.)