EL PASO?Paul Harvie considers herself blessed to have grown up in a Christian home where she was taught to pray from an early age. “As I grew older and studied the Bible myself, I came to realize God’s amazing promises.” She believes prayer is powerful and effective because God promised to answer prayer. “God cannot lie. We can count on Him!”
A lifetime of personally experiencing the power of prayer strengthened her belief in the immeasurable potential of prayer. So when the prayer coordinator of El Paso’s Exciting Immanual Baptist Church learned that her son would be deployed to Iraq, her natural response was to recruit scores of people to pray for him.
“Almost daily, I pray Psalm 91 for David, inserting his name in the text and reminding God of His wonderful promises to those who love Him,” Harvie said. “Many times a day I claim God’s promise that ‘no weapon formed against David shall prosper,” she added, drawing from Isa. 54:17
As the mother of an Army captain stationed with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, Paula Harvie knows the comfort of having fellow believers committed to keeping a prayer shield of protection over American troops. “I’ve seen profound gratitude in the eyes of young soldiers in our congregation. They find it very reassuring to know that their home church will cover them with prayer.” The anxieties of loved ones are replaced by the peace that passes all understanding, she said.
Months before the war broke out, the church began interceding for troops, families, the nation and the Iraqi people. A special prayer board lists the names and pictures of family members and friends who have been deployed. Members are encouraged to participate in an hour of prayer on Sunday afternoons or stop by on their way to work during weekday mornings. “These special times are wholly devoted to the war with Iraq, the welfare of our troops and their loved ones, wisdom for our leaders and revival in our nation.”
Harvie recognizes that America is an imperfect land. “We have much need for humbling ourselves before God and asking for forgiveness for our national sins.” Still, she views the current conflict as a just war, adding, “t1:country-region>America is the instrument of God’s judgment on an evil leader and his wicked cronies.” She believes God has given the nation “resources, manpower and opportunity to carry out his judgment on a diabolical regime.”
The sacrifice her son is expected to make to liberate people that don’t always seem to appreciate those efforts caused Harvie anguish during the darkness of a long night just after the war had begun. “In fact, these people hate our sons so much that they take every chance they get to insult them, attack them and kill them,” she determined.
“As I was reflecting on the unfairness of it all, the Lord reminded me that he, too, sent his Son to liberate hateful, mean-spirited people who didn’t want to be liberated from the tyrant who was holding them in bondage, either.” Those ungrateful people treated God’s Son unfairly, too, she added, ultimately killing him.
“Suddenly I understood a deeper dimension of Romans 8:8,” she said, quoting, “‘But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while were still sinners.’ The human race treated the Son of God no better than the Iraqi death squads have treated our troops. But God loves them as much as he loves us. He wants people everywhere to know his love and to experience his liberation from the worst tyrant of all, Satan.”
As soon as the conflict is over, Harvie said, “The Church needs to flood Iraq with Christian businessmen, construction workers, engineers, teachers and medical personnel who will demonstrate through their professional skills the compassion of God to a broken nation desperately in need of his love.”
Harvie is aware that the intensifying hatred of the Muslim peoples toward America could make it difficult for American missionaries to share their faith in those lands. That calls for prayer to change the hateful atmosphere. “When our church prays for Iraq, we always pray that God will open that land to the gospel and that from Iraq the good news of Jesus Christ will spread to the other nations of the Middle East. We’re asking God for a spiritual breakthrough and a harvest of souls unparalleled in the history of missions.”
Before her son left for Kuwait and Iraq, she encouraged him and his Christian friends to prayer walk those nations as they served their country. “I said they should consider themselves God’s missionaries on special assignment and to claim for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ the very lands their feet would tread!”