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A letter from Sherri Ellington In Zambia

May 4, 2012

Dear Friends,

When you pray for others or ask them to pray for you, what kinds of prayers get offered the most?  Are they prayers of thanksgiving? Prayers for healing?  Prayers for a problem situation to get fixed?

Here at Justo Mwale we have a theme for the 2012 academic year:  Maturing in Christ.  And for the past term Dustin and his spiritual companionship group of 12 students have focused on what it might look like, alongside supporting each other with prayers for healing and other current problems, to also consistently pray “bigger” or “longer-term” prayers for one another’s growth and maturity in Christ.

Year 2 students at JMTUC -- at our home for a special “spiritual companionship” meeting

It is a great support to gather with believers and pray for one another’s current needs.  We don’t want to give that up.  But we also don’t want to become nearsighted, focusing only on current needs and crises. 

In the books of Ephesians and Colossians the apostle Paul models prayer for those he knows, that they will continue to mature in Christ.  Dustin’s spiritual companionship group focused on some of these this past term.

Dustin and Sherri with their students.

One of the group’s favorites was Ephesians 3:16-19, where Paul prays that God:

may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Another was Colossians 1:9-12, where Paul asks God that the believers:

may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanksto the Father, who has qualified youto share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Dr. D.T. Banda and new lecturer Dr. Soko playing “draughts” (like checkers). Note the “table” they are playing on, as well as the bottle cap “checkers”!

These types of prayers are very important for long-term transformation and growth, both in individuals and in the church.  The theme of the new academic term here at JMTUC is growth in “Integrity and Character,” and these prayers seem quite apropos for this new term. Will you join with us, and with Dustin’s spiritual companionship group, in praying one of these prayers for us, for our students at Justo Mwale, and, more broadly, for the African church?  Others may come to mind, too, such as your children or grandchildren, friends, and/or your own local church.

Thank you so much for your prayers and many other forms of support,

Sherri and Dustin Ellington

The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 105

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