The bridge to a staple worship song in the prayer movement goes like this:
Catch me up in your story
All my life for your glory
Put me anywhere, just put your glory in me
I'll serve anywhere, just let me see your beauty
You would assume by now I would have learned to think twice before praying such prayers. These prayers should at least come with a warning label: "Be warned; praying this may mess up your best laid plans." I have prayed dangerous prayers like that before. "Lord, if you want me to serve you full-time, you have to interrupt my life and show me." "Lord, let me be part of ushering in revival into my nation."
And then when you least expect it, God adds his "Yes" to our "Amen"; he catches us up in the present continuous tense story he is writing in the nations. And we hold on - or maybe we let go - for dear life.
United Prayer Rising
In the past month, I had the distinct privilege of being part of the leadership teams at two global events. First, United Prayer Rising, a four-day international prayer gathering that brought together young people from over 35 nations to contend for God's purposes to go speedily through North Korea, and for the destiny of the next generation.
United Prayer Rising began with three days at a church in Ilsan, each day focusing in on a different word of our theme, expressed in unity (United), destiny (Prayer) and militancy (Rising). The worship times were rich, the intercession passionate, and the preaching of the Word struck us to the core. As a generation responded, I found myself wondering, "Could this be a glimpse of the generation who would be volunteers in the day of His power (Psa. 110:3)?"
The most significant moment for me personally was when I had the opportunity on the last night to lay down a challenge to the young generation to be faithful in love and in obedience to Christ until the end. The verse that gripped my heart through the week was Revelation 12:11:
And they have conquered [the evil one] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Oh that the Lamb would receive his reward: a church completely faithful, completely given, completely in love with him until the end.
One Day, One Korea
Prayer is the ultimate expression of humility because through prayer we are confessing our utter dependence on God. On July 29, 2016, over 1000 internationals and Koreans gathered at the North Korean border on an overcast day at a muddy field to confess their utter dependence on God. Like David who stood before Goliath with nothing but a sling and five stones, we stood before the Goliath of division that had long reigned over the Korean peninsula with nothing but our voices raised in worship and prayer. And like David whose focus was not the giant standing before Him but the God who stood beside Him, the six hours at Nuri Peace Park were dedicated to worship God and to agree with His will for Korea and for the generations, recognizing that the battle is ultimately the Lord's.
As I stood at the North Korean border, prophesying in worship (in English and in Korean!) to principalities and powers, amidst a sea of candles lit to represent the light of Christ within us; as I worshiped, at one point in Korean, and at another point sharing the stage with my parents, it suddenly dawned on me that I was standing amidst the crucible of prophetic fulfillment of words spoken over me 7 years ago: "The Lord is making you a prophetic voice to the nations... you will walk in the path your parents have paved." It also suddenly hit me that I would one day tell my children and grandchildren that I was there when Korea used to be two nations, and that through our partnership with God in prayer we saw the great wall of division crumble.
It was a surreal moment. It was a sacred moment.
How do you go back to life as usual?
The Ultimate Convergence: Prayer x Missions
A couple of days later, I was on a plane to Jakarta to be part of a second global gathering. Where the first gathering emphasized prayer, the second emphasized missions. Perhaps this was God's way of highlighting what he is calling me to in the next decade.
The Lausanne Movement began in 1974 under the leadership of Billy Graham and John Stott to catalyze global initiatives unto the completion of the Great Commission. Through what I believe was divine providence, I was invited to be the intercession chair at the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, a once-in-a-generation gathering that assembled 1000 leaders from 140+ nations around the Great Story of the Scriptures - from the Garden to the New City - to worship in many languages, pray for many regions, and connect with many comrades for the great task remaining of completing the Great Commission.
If the Uprising undid me, then YLG obliterated me.
How could it not when the person sitting in front of you just stood up and asked for prayer because he, a convert from Islam, was going to return home to literally lay down his life for the sake of the gospel? How could it not when conversation after conversation revealed story after story of people, who have become my heroes, daily enduring pain, prison and persecution with joy for the worth of Jesus to be made much of in the nations? How could it not when I had meals together with men and women my age giving up everything to move to North Korea, to Burundi, to South Sudan, and all across the Middle East? Why? Simply because they believe that "the need is great, the gospel is good, the command is clear, the world is waiting, and God is worthy".
How do you go back to life as usual?
So on Day 4 of the conference as I prepared, together with Caleb, my co-spy, to facilitate the Evening of Prayer, it simply boggled the mind that God would allow someone like me the tremendous privilege of leading these heroes into his presence. I showed up and merely did what I have been doing the past seven years in the tiny prayer room in Penang. But that night, his presence felt sweeter and more tangible. People encountered the Lord. Many heard him with greater clarity than they could recall. Leaders received 'downloads'; one even received a 40-year plan. Hearts broke as we waited in silence and then interceded for the 12 regions represented. Commitments were made, literally in stone. It was surreal; it was as if the Lord had taken my five loaves and two fish and fed each person present in his own unique way.
If time seemed to slow down that night, it seemed to make up for what was lost by speeding up through the final days of #YLG2016. Connections were made, minds were challenged, hearts were stirred, celebrations ensued. And before you could say "YLGEN", we were saying goodbye, giving hugs, receiving random souvenirs from all over the world, and taking selfies. (At least some of us did!)
As I sat waiting for my delayed flight (thanks, Air Asia), it suddenly hit me. The intensity of the week in Korea, the historic significance of the week in Indonesia, the names and faces of the people I'd met, the messages that had cut my heart, the challenges I had said yes to. I found myself weeping. Not for sadness. Not for joy even. I wasn't even sure why I was weeping.
On the plane, I pulled out my copy of "The Lausanne Legacy" in which some of my new lifelong friends had written personal notes to me. And I wept again as I read the words that Billy Graham had spoken in 1974, the challenge that Leighton Ford had given in 1989.
Back home, I look at the stone that I had picked up from the rock pile we had built as an altar to the Lord during the Evening of Prayer. "Revelation 12:11" it says, a reminder of the challenge I gave in Korea, a reminder of the commitment to which I have said yes by the grace of God.
How do you go back to life as usual?
Well. Maybe you don't.
Maybe processing helps. Maybe it doesn't.
Maybe you discover why you were allowed to be part of these gatherings, what your role is in the Kingdom, what your next steps are. Maybe you don't.
Maybe it's enough to know that God, the divine author of history, is responding to your weak prayer of "catch me up in your story", by allowing you to write a phrase, a sentence, or even a paragraph in this glorious story he is writing for his Son to be made much of in the nations of the earth.
On 19 July 1989 (two days after I turned five!), Leighton Ford ended his closing address, "Until He Comes", at the Second Lausanne Congress in Manila with these words:
God's dream for world evangelization comes to us as challenges.
Will you risk? He is coming! Will we proclaim Christ until he comes with faith willing to risk?
Will you last? He is coming! Will we proclaim Christ with enduring hope until he comes?
Will you burn? He is coming! Will we keep our lamps burning with love for our Lord and for spreading the gospel?
May God, by his grace and power, enable us to risk, to last, to burn, to proclaim.
Even so, come. Amen.