“Night and day my eyes overflow with tears.
I cannot stop weeping,
for my virgin daughter—my precious people—
has been struck down
and lies mortally wounded.
18If I go out into the fields,
I see the bodies of people slaughtered by the enemy.
If I walk the city streets,
I see people who have died of starvation.
The prophets and priests continue with their work,
but they don’t know what they’re doing.”
This is another example of why Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet”. He was in that heart breaking place of not only pronouncing judgement upon God’s people for their sin but also witnessing that judgment first hand. You can see how his heart reflects the heart of God as he describes them as “my precious people.” There’s nothing vindictive here. Jeremiah isn’t rejoicing that they are getting “what they deserved”, but is weeping in the streets and praying for healing. Probably the most convicting part for me personally is his description of the religious leaders. Instead of walking the streets with him and leading the way to repentance they just keep plugging away in their daily routines. They either don’t know how to address the problems of the people’s hearts or, worse yet, don’t even know what the problems are as they are stuck in the same sin. There is literal death all around them but they are treating it as “business as usual”. God asked Jeremiah to share his observations in hopes of stirring his leaders to leave their ivory towers, leave the comfort of their religious schedules and to get out on the street with the very people entrusted to their care.
Elijah is just over one month in to his Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) at the Perth, Australia Base. In the past week he has texted me two things I honestly never thought I’d receive from him. He has always been a follower of Jesus and has exhibited great sensitivity to Holy Spirit from even a young age. Where God has been stretching and stirring him recently lines right up with the challenge of Jeremiah in today’s reading and is very challenging to me. His first text was about how intercession was not something he liked at first, but now He loves it. I told him I had felt that same way at his age before truly discovering the power of focused prayer. He then texted this truth: “I didn’t like sitting and praying for a long time, but it’s less that and more of God giving me His heart for certain situations or people which is really cool.” My heart was soaring at the reality of my 18 year old son was awakening to the wonders of intercessory prayer. Every week at YWAM they have a time of intercession for specific people groups and global situations. Every Friday they go out to the city of Perth and participate in “street ministry” where they witness of the love of Jesus to their neighbors. This has also been a stretch for Elijah. While he has been getting out on the streets God has been moving his heart to even more boldness in engaging with people about Jesus and how to pray for them. Then, I received this text the following week: “Hey, what do you think about street ministry back home? I feel that New Hope can reach a lot more than the ones who come on Sunday.” I almost jumped out of my skin. This was such a great confirmation in what God has been stirring Pastor Wayne, Lanu Tilton and our pastoral team to do. This was also a call back to a legacy of ministry on the streets started by my parents. When we lived in Kona in the early 80’s they would participate in street evangelism through music and word and pray for deliverance and healing for many who were trapped in darkness and addiction. It brought back to mind one of the visions God gave me four years ago when we were praying about moving from Kona to Oahu. It was the picture of walking in through the back door of our Ministry Center on Sand Island and then walking out the front door and seeing our Honolulu city scape. I felt God was positioning New Hope to have an even greater impact on our city than ever before. All of this to say that what Elijah was texting about is what Jeremiah was modeling out and what God is calling out to see. Where we want to go in person we must first go in prayer. The problem is when we don’t pray and we don’t actually go in person to the people God has called us to. This fresh call to weep on the streets is the key to seeing things change in our city. The connection between prayer and evangelism, between having God’s heart for people while being with the people is clearly seen in Matthew 9:35-38: “35Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Thank You Lord for using my son’s texts and today’s text to stir in me a fresh call back to the streets and back to my knees. That I would no longer blindly go through my day but instead would walk with eyes wide open. Break my heart with the things that break yours. Help me to not get so caught up in the business of church that I forget it’s the church’s business to get out on the streets and cry out in prayer for the souls You have died for.