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#PRAY127 03.16.20

Whenever I come back from Africa or the Dominican Republic, I bring with me a fresh perspective on all that God is doing in the world. This time around I am reminded of several things:

  1. That my life, while important, is not the center of the universe.
  2. That the American Church, while influential, is not as effective as we pretend it is.
  3. That God, while personal, is also communal, and He’s doing a zillion things in the lives of our brothers and sisters around the globe of which we’re unaware.

This time around, I was also reminded how wonderful it can be to be “off the grid,” unaware the world is on fire. When I finally learned of President Trump’s decision to close travel from certain places and that the CDC recommended a 14-day quarantine from those traveling from where I would be traveling (Amsterdam), I was relatively unmoved. Not only that, but my attempts to get more information from the airline and travel agency were unsuccessful. Even Google couldn’t provide accurate information! Why were people freaking out, I wondered?

But when I did grasp the serious nature of the travel ban, the uncertainty surrounding it, the major entities who had taken serious steps to curtail the spread of COVID-19 (MLB, NCAA, NBA), and most importantly, my wife’s persuasive pleading, I ended up rebooking and getting home 48 hours earlier than planned.

This time around I had been leading a group comprised of players, coaches, and/or faculty from Wheaton College (IL) and Morningside College (IA). As we sat around Thursday morning after having learned about the President’s remarks, we were all still rather unaffected. I believe the reason for this are the three reminders I listed above, which can maybe boil down to one point:

Our God is in the heavens and He does whatever He pleases.

Driving down the red clay dirt roads in rural Africa, looking out over the miles of rice and maize fields, and seeing a woman or child carry water what can only be miles to or from a well, I can’t help but think, “God knows that person by name, how many hairs are on her head, and in fact created her in her mother’s womb for a relationship with Him.”

Will she ever worry about COVID-19? Probably not. There is something nice about being “off the grid.”

But in God’s economy, she’s as on the grid as any Hollywood pop star or world leader. In God’s economy, she is valued with the exact same proportion as Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. The irony of her “ignorance” of COVID-19 as we rush to the airport to expose ourselves to greater risk of COVID-19, was not lost on me.

The Scriptures tell us that showing partiality is a grave sin (James 2:1-10). Whenever we discriminate against others based on class, social or socioeconomic status, gender, race, ethnicity, appearance, nationality, or anything else, we have sinned.

I am often asked, “Why are you going Africa when there is so much need here?” My responses range in degrees of snark, from, “I didn’t realize God loved Americans more than Africans,” to, “Oh that’s great you care so much about orphans here…I’d love to hear about all the things you’re personally doing.”

But the truth is, that person just doesn’t get it. Maybe they will in the future, but for now, they’re too “on the grid” to think like Jesus when it comes to His global economy.

My #PRAY127 prayer request this week, as simple as it is, is this:

  • Please pray for that unknown woman carrying a jerrycan of water miles down a red dirt road in Africa.
  • Or pray for the man trying to feed his family of 10 with the resources and tools available, completely dependent upon good weather.
  • Or pray for the child who has seen unimaginable trauma and is now at one of the children’s homes Man Up supports, unlikely to know what growing up in a nuclear family is all about.

Yes, God cares about Americans. He cares about COVID-19. He also cares about Africans, and He cares about Man Up’s presence among them.

Thank you again for praying – I am convinced it is the most important initiative we have.


Jeff Ford, CEO Isaiah 1:17

P.S. Quick update – there were several players who shared brutally intimate details during our share times. These guys confessed addictions, insecurities, fears, past failures, and shared stories of loss, including having been personally affected by suicide, murder, and sexual abuse. I am so grateful for your prayers over the lives of these young men. God moved in a mighty and powerful way – thank you for praying!

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