The town of Gloucester in my state ran out of drinking water about at the start of the year. Since then trucks have been delivering water to the people living there.
My friend, Ty Soupidis, is a pastor at Church on the Hill at Gloucester. I spoke to Ty the previous October about the drought as part of an assignment for my masters course. He helped me that the need goes beyond water.
Three months later the rivers are dry, trucks are delivering water. As local churches gathered to pray around town, Church on the Hill met in the dry riverbed to ask God for rain.
We live 3 hours away, so our community gathered in my house to pray for them. We listened to my interview with Ty and read a passage from the Bible.
Prayer for us isn’t just about talking to God, we listen too. But because we have several young children in our church, we also pray by drawing.
We took a couple of sheets of cardboard with an empty river drawn on it and ask the children to draw what they want to see God doing in the town.
The drawings will never be worth as much as a Picasso but they hold a powerful message. Instead of a cry for rain, they are a heartfelt longing for total rejuvenation.
When it rains…
It rained the week after we prayed but not enough to really wet the riverbed. I love Church on the Hill’s response as they gathered the following week.
‘We are not those who are happy for anyone to bring rain. We will not sell out to the first bidder, we will wait on the God of heaven and earth who is God no matter what happens.’
They were right in persisting to seek God for rain. How often do I asking before God has acted?
The rain fell according to God’s timing. Six weeks after the water trucks started, the rain fell, the rivers filled and the trucks stopped. God had answered.
God unquestionably at work
Ezekiel 47:1-12 is a passage that comes to mind when I think about my friend Ty. Ezekiel sees a vision of a deepening river flowing from the temple into the Dead Sea. This river changes the Dead Sea’s nature. It becomes full of life instead of death. Where the banks were barren, there are now trees whose leaves bring healing.
Ezekiel isn’t describing an ecological awakening; it is a radical reversal of nature. He is describing restoration of the world because God is directly reaching into it. God is bring life from death.
As I looked at the children’s drawing I saw beyond the rain. There are people picnicking, others are fishing, others swimming, one is rowing. There are platypus, fish, fruit trees, birds, and a library.
The children drew a prayer that was more than ‘God let it rain in Gloucester.’ Their prayer was something more like,
‘God, Gloucester needs the radical transformation you bring. Bring life, bring healing where their are dead parts and let this town be a place teeming of life for you.’
Thinking about it, that’s also my prayer for my town. How about you?