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Pray Deeply


I’m CSPC missions partner Theo Visser. I lead the Intercultural Church Planting
group (ICP) in my home country of the Netherlands. I started out pastoring a church plant
in Rotterdam, and then after five years, in 2006, I got a request from this group wanting
to plant in Amsterdam asking ‘Can you help us too?’ We were supposed to help find the
right people, train them and so on. Well we found a wonderful guy there who could do
the job, so he and I went out one day to a shopping mall and tried to make connections
with people; introduce conversations about faith. Over the course of the entire day, no
one was open to that. Everyone said ‘Shut up, man.’ I was so discouraged. I felt like I
could do one of two things: go back home and just continue with my life, or I could stop
and seek God’s face and ask, ‘God, how do you want us to work in this time and age?
How are you going to show yourself?’ I went into a McDonald’s, sat by the window
where I could see all kinds of people walking by, took a little notebook and wrote down a
prayer for my heart. In the prayer I said ‘God, I see all these beautiful people that you’ve
made so wonderfully, but their eyes are empty and they lack you. I have no idea how we
can reach them in this time. Please answer me!’ I was desperate. Then something
happened. As I wrote the prayer, thoughts came up. What I heard in those thoughts was
God saying, ‘Theo, you are so busy doing all this work. You try so hard, striving from
morning till evening. But there’s one thing you need to know- you need to learn to walk
in my presence. And if you walk in my presence and teach my people to walk in my
presence too, my glory will rest on you and people will see me in you. That means maybe
you can work five times less hard but be five times more effective!’ God was revealing
that my busyness was hindering his Spirit. He was saying, ‘You need to learn to discern
the things that hinder my Spirit in your life so you can be open and attentive and
receptive to who I am.’

I ended up writing for an hour and a half, and had the most profound encounter
with God in that McDonald’s on what had been such a disappointing day. One thing I
would say to people after that day is not to look to the fruit of your work too much-
because if it’s good you’ll become proud, and if it’s not good you’ll become discouraged.
Simply fix your eyes on Jesus; keep your focus on Him. Drink as much as you can from
Jesus –connect your spirit and heart to Him- and then rivers of living water will come out
of your inner being. To our amazement, 10 years after that day of the encounter, ICP had
planted 30 churches in this secular, tough country. To me, living in God’s presence
means my spirit is connected to His Spirit so I can really feel His presence. One thing that
helps me get there is a practice called the Lectio Divina. You take four steps. First, you
read a text of Scripture, and like a bee, you are really looking for the honey. You’re
asking ‘Where is that verse that really speaks to my heart right now?’ As soon as you
read that verse, you stop. Then you start to meditate on the verse- slowly chew on it and
get all the nectar for five or 10 minutes. Then you pray that verse back to God. Finally,
the most important, beautiful and difficult step is contemplation. You just rest in God’s
presence, coming to Him in adoration and praise. If your thoughts run off in another
direction, you simply bring them back. You just stay quiet before the Lord. That part may
start as only one or two minutes. But you may get to the point where His presence is so
near, you spend an hour just rejoicing in Him. And whatever the verse that reached your
heart was, you can come back to it during quiet moments throughout the day. This is the
lifestyle God has invited us to.

Please pray that God would allow us and our team of church planters to really live in His
presence. And pray that as we make disciples, we will always teach them to also live
connected to Him as a branch to the vine.

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