Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Best Laid Plans...

During our time in Florianopolis, we had a chance to go on a "pirate schooner" and tour the bay. While this was great fun for the boys, we also had a chance to tour an island fort that was part of the defenses set up by the Portuguese in the 1700's to defend against invasion by the Spanish. In the course of the tour, I saw several parallels with our current mission challenge.

The Portuguese commander had a brilliant plan. He built forts on each side of the bay, as well as on an island in the middle, thereby forming a defensive triangle. The idea was that if any Spanish ships tried to enter the bay to attack the city, they would be caught in a withering crossfire. The forts were constructed and super-long range cannons were ordered from Portugal. The cannons came, but went to Rio de Janiero, where they were kept, and old, leftover cannons were sent to Florianopolis instead. These cannons had a range of a mere 300 meters, not nearly enough to cover the bay, which is 4000 meters across.

One day, 115 Spanish warships carrying approximately 8,000 soldiers entered the harbor. The alarm was sounded and the 100 Portuguese soldiers in the three forts promptly abandoned their posts and fled. The island was captured without a shot and held until a treaty was signed a year later. The Portuguese had a strategy in place, but had not received the resources they needed to win the fight. They were outgunned and out manned.

All too often, us missionary types have brilliant strategic plans in place, but when the battle is engaged, we find that we are outgunned and out manned. Why? Because of a lack of prayer and prayer support. We can plan, budget, and strategize all year long, but if we don't spend time on our knees beseeching God for our people, our spiritual weapons won't be strong enough to do much damage. All too often, we are guilty of regularly failing to inform our prayer supporters of how they can pray, and therefore, we find that we are out manned and overwhelmed in the battle.

All of this is to say that God used an old fort to reminded me of the importance of my prayer time and your prayer ministry on our behalf and on behalf of our people. We need your prayers - it is how God has chosen to fight the battle for the souls of the people of metropolitan Porto Alegre, and it is an imminently winnable battle if we all do our part.

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