Anyone old enough to remember the old TV show, or anyone who has seen the movies with Tom Cruise, will recognize the title quote from Mission Impossible. A message, containing details of a top secret mission, would be sent to an agent of the CIA. After the message had been delivered, it would self-destruct, and the agent would set out to save the world from terrorists or other worldwide threats. It made for exciting entertainment– speeding trains, double agents, close calls with assassins, death-defying stunts, and lots of explosions– all happening in exotic locations around the world.
Prayer doesn’t usually involve death-defying stunts or explosions, but in can involve a mission, and exotic locations. As I started keeping a prayer journal, I wanted to pray for people around the world– except I’m not a world traveler. I’ve never been to Fiji or Burundi, Greenland or the Gobi Desert. I know some missionaries who have lived or are living overseas, and their newsletters are helpful and personal– I can pray for them, for their fellow workers, and for their neighbors and friends and circumstances across the globe. But I wondered, couldn’t I do more? What if I set aside one day for every country on earth– to pray for that country and its people even once a year? That might seem like an impossible mission. How can I pray effectively for a country if I don’t even know where it is or how to pronounce its name? Thankfully, I have a lot of help. The internet is a great resource for finding out about countries, especially those in the news. But one of my favorite resources is the CIA!
The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America is not just in the spy business. They collect “intelligence”– facts about our world and every country in it–maps, statistics, flags, forms of government, populations, literacy and mortality rates, and so much more. /https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/
By visiting their site, you can find out more about any country in the world, and use that information to pray for very specific needs–countries that have been ravaged by war, disease, faltering economies; those countries facing turmoil from burgeoning immigration or sectarian violence. You can find out the official language(s) of any country, the approximate breakdown of religious affiliation, the percentage of the population that suffers from obesity, illiteracy, or poverty– even some of the history and social structure. Are there major rivers or mountain ranges in that country? What natural resources do they have (or not have).
I don’t spend hours poring over each country each day– sometimes, I just lift up that country by name, knowing that God already knows the needs and situations in each place better than I ever could (even with the help of drones and spies). But when I have the time, I like to learn more about the amazing diversity of peoples, languages, cultures, and circumstances around the world. It reminds me that God has all of them in his hand, on his mind, and in his heart at all times. It’s a big world out there, though it often seems to be shrinking. God is Bigger! There are a lot of tragic circumstances and heartbreaking issues around the world. God is still Sovereign! There are millions of people in remote and forgotten corners of the world– God sees and cherishes all of them!
I still have my “first world” problems, and personal issues to bring to the throne of Grace, but what a privilege to be able to lift up others– people I have never met in places I will never be able to visit–knowing that I can have a tiny part in the work God wants to do in their lives, as well as in mine.