Satan’s worst nightmare
Pastor & writer
- Discipleship & spiritual formation
Elizabeth and William Nicoleti didn’t need a thermometer last month to realize the building where Aviva Igreja Cristã worships was warmer than expected.
A church member who climbed atop the roof discovered the why behind the warmth: someone had stolen copper wires that supply power to the air conditioner. Then the disciple found a black candle, lighter and distinctive strings on the roof, proof of a recent witchcraft ceremony.
This satanic striving mobilized the same week their pastor, Bruno Serafim da Luz, began preaching for people in southern Brazil to embrace the gospel and abandon religiosity.
Several days later, Elizabeth Nicoleti joined hundreds of other believers during a 24-hour prayer time on Feb. 24 and 25. Converge International Ministries organized the intercession.
“The only way that we fight against spiritual strongholds is with God’s mighty weapons,” she said. “Together, united as the body of Christ, we will see God’s victory. A prayer movement precedes a gospel movement.”
Nicoleti is the prayer coordinator for Converge’s Southern Cone Initiative, which aims to make disciples among the least-reached peoples of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. She and William live in Criciúma, Brazil, and she leads a monthly prayer gathering on Zoom.
These intercessors were organized and intentional
She said two current needs in her region are seeing Christ take down religiosity and witchcraft, which are barriers to the gospel. During the prayer time, organized into one-hour segments for specific ministries or people groups, Nicoleti prayed for pastors in the United States and against barriers to the gospel in her region.
Chuck Lewis, who works to catalyze partnerships between churches and global workers, noted that the prayer event included intercession for all of Converge.
“We know that prayer is the tip of the spear for anything on the field,” Lewis said.
Therefore, American churches and pastors received a dedicated hour of prayer while another hour supported each of Converge’s 12 initiatives among least-reached people. In addition, the event offered a separate hour for each continent where unreached people groups live.
Another hour focused prayers on the strength and health of the world’s churches, and Converge’s staff in all 10 regions also received an hour of committed prayer.
We know that prayer is the tip of the spear for anything in the field.
Karla and Larry Adams, the church strengthening directors for Converge PacWest, participated in that prayer time for church strengthening. The Adamses have a long history with Converge. They planted a church and served that congregation for 35 years before accepting the opportunity at Converge PacWest.
“To know that God was raising up 24 hours of unbroken prayer for the ministries of Converge, that is really encouraging,” Larry Adams said.
Karla said the two love participating in prayer gatherings where brothers and sisters worldwide gather with the same goals and burdens. She appreciated how the event incorporated both spontaneous and organized prayers.
“I’m looking forward to having more of these,” she said.
More than 350 people participated sometime during the 24 hours of prayer, Lewis said. Prayers came from all five continents where Converge staff serve, including people in restricted locations.
Spiritual warfare in Brazil and everywhere motivated Lewis, vice president of International Ministries Ivan Veldhuizen and director of U.S. Engagement Kevin McGhee to lead the event.
“Satan doesn’t want us praying. That’s one of his worst nightmares,” Karla Adams said. “If we do this, and make an effort, it’s going to make a difference.”
International ministries staff invested hours and hours over 60 days, forming the intentional, organized meeting for prayer. They hope to get more churches and people involved in future prayer calls.
“We’re planning to really ramp up our prayer,” Lewis said.
He answers more than we can ask
Maureen Albers has a strong testimony of what happens when the children of God reach out to their heavenly father: He hears and helps sinners and saints alike.
In January 2022, the prayer team coordinator for Converge’s Six Degree Initiative started a list of every prayer that God answered. Since then, there have been many salvations and baptisms in Togo and Benin. Plus, churches have been planted, pastors have been trained and God has supplied volunteers and resources to make many kinds of ministry possible.
Related: Are you ready to join a prayer network?
At this point, the list of answered prayers is much longer than the team’s requests for prayer, Josh Freeman said. He’s the initiative leader in Togo and Benin.
“It is changing the face of ministry here in Togo through people praying regularly [and] consistently,” Freeman said.
God has promised grace, so we’ll keep reaching out
Dana Olson, the pastor of Faith Baptist Fellowship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, rejoiced when he joined the February gathering.
“The throne of grace beckons us with invitation,” he said. “And the technology allows a truly global connection that is mind-boggling.”
He led the intercession for Converge pastors and executive leaders. He also sought God’s aid during the hours targeting stronger churches, global partnerships and disciples among the diaspora.
The Bible promises that our father responds with grace to the cries of his people.
Olson has been praying for pastors and missionaries for several decades. He previously worked full-time for Prayer First, an endeavor that stimulated prayer throughout Converge.
“When churches throw open the door to Jesus by prayer, it is both a response to grace and a plea for grace,” he said. “And God has promised grace to his people. The Bible promises that our father responds with grace to the cries of his people.”
A God like that demonstrates why more 24-hour prayer gatherings will happen. The Lord’s people pray to the one who answers request after request after request to make disciples, restore bodies, defeat enemies and supply resources. Maureen Albers has the list to prove it.
In south Brazil, after witchcraft and theft warm up the worship space, Nicoleti bows before the Lord, who reigns and reaches those far from him. A few weeks after Converge’s 24-hour prayer gathering, her pastor, Bruno Serafim da Luz, shared that God answered with action.
“Something really moved in the atmosphere at church,” Nicoleti heard da Luz say. “God heard prayers from the 24-hour prayer call. The last two weeks at church have been amazing. You can feel the presence of God.”
Converge is asking God for a gospel movement among every least-reached people group – in our generation. Learn how we are playing a role in accomplishing the Great Commission and how you can be involved.
Ben Greene, Pastor & writer
Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.Additional articles by Ben Greene