“By Invitation Only”

Upon seeing that a special occasion is described as “by invitation only,” some might find themselves frustrated or jealous if they wish that they could attend the big event. Others, however, might be elated and feel quite privileged because they have received a personal invitation to such an exclusive gathering.

I want you to know that you have been invited to something very special and very exciting that is “by invitation only.” Indeed, the Prayer League has received this invitation. And God is the one who has sent it!

Ordinarily an event that is “by invitation only” is quite exclusive. Only a select few get to participate. What God has invited us to, however, is not “exclusive” in the same sense. In fact, it is quite inclusive. God invites all people everywhere to this! It remains, however, very much “by invitation only.” You don’t get in on your own. You can’t just decide to go or participate.

The first thing to which God has invited us is his salvation (see Luke 3:6). We certainly don’t enter into that “on our own!” Our Lord Jesus opened the way for us through his death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit ushers us in with the gift of faith. By no means do we want to miss out on this invitation!

The second thing to which God has invited us is his mission. He is the one who from the beginning of time has determined to seek out the people he created and restore them to himself. He has quite graciously invited you and me to participate in this life-saving, world-changing endeavor!

This understanding of mission is essential for us: We do not enter into it by our own initiative, but only by God’s invitation. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit,” Jesus said. (John 15:16)

The important thing for us to understand is that God is the one who initiates his work in the world. He goes and works before us, and invites us into what he is already doing. This matters greatly to the ways we discern his direction and strategize for the efforts of the World Mission Prayer League, both as we mobilize for prayer and Great Commission living in the Americas, and as we send workers to his “harvest fields.”

During my recent visits with our workers and partners in Africa, I was blessed to experience an especially compelling example of God’s “invitation” to us “WMPLers.” I was so pleased to see the wonderful things our Lord has done in the Democratic Republic of Congo very much prior to inviting us to send Didi and Serafina Panzo as our workers there. By God’s provision and direction, the Panzos are serving alongside and within the Confessional Lutheran Church of Congo (CLCC). Remarkably, this church, in its unique 40-year history, has had no relationship with, nor input from, foreign missionaries. They are a genuinely independent and indigenous (think “homegrown”) church body. Guided by their desire to be guided purely by God’s Word, they determined themselves that they were “Lutheran.”

Our Lutheran brothers and sisters in the CLCC are exuberantly joy-filled and resolutely mission-focused. In four short decades a single worshipping community, established by a visionary and prophetic Congolese preacher, has multiplied to over 50 congregations. This church has been established not by the initiative of a missionary or mission agency, but solely by God’s initiative as he called and inspired local believers to his Kingdom work. The CLCC now invites us to partner with them. In truth, God is inviting us through them. He is inviting us to something that he began.

The CLCC is excited to have the Panzos’ assistance in establishing more formal theological and missional training for their pastors and other church servants, and in considering together new outreach challenges they face, but I assured them that we in WMPL probably have as much to learn from them as they do from us! Personally, I marvel that God has invited us into such an opportunity. Allow me to invite you to pray for our developing partnership with the Confessional Lutheran Church of Congo, that the Lord will guide and provide for Didi and Serafina, and that missional leaders and new communities of faith will continue to multiply.

This grand adventure of changing the world in Jesus’ name is by invitation only. Thankfully, God is inviting more and more people all the time, people all over the world! You, too, are invited! I encourage you to accept. Welcome! It starts right now. It starts with prayer.

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