God’s dream for Regional Victoria
A couple of years ago, Melbourne based Praxeis workers, Vicki and Pete Stokes were praying about where God wanted them to go. A few months prior, Praxeis held some training in the Victorian regional town of Shepparton and found a bunch of really hungry young adults, keen to make disciples. Following this, Vicki and Pete were praying and wondering if Shepp was part of God’s call to them. God gave Vicki a dream one night and so, the Stokes family felt this was part of God’s answer. To go to ‘Shepp’ and pray.
God started to highlight the whole state of Victoria on a map to Vicki and Pete. So they called a prayer time online to cry out to God for Regional VIC (Victoria). The ‘Regional VIC’ team was birthed from these passionate Zoom prayer times during the months of COVID restrictions.
Two years on and these days the Stokes family and the Regional VIC team find themselves being deeply impacted by the needs as they follow God’s vision to see a Disciple-making movement (DMM) take place. Some of these towns are thriving and others are really struggling – places like Morwell in Victoria’s East. The team feel moved by how towns like this are shrinking. Businesses are closing and gathering places are shutting their doors. Morwell in particular feels really deserted as they pray along the streets.
Pete & Vicki pray for connections with workers reaching their own towns. They link up with locals like Sue in Morwell and prayer walk and chat about what Disciple-making could look like. With their young children in tow, the Stokes family sometimes connect with the locals as they explore these towns.
Recently they met and listened to locals in town like Mal share about his incredibly broken background. Sitting beside the playground, watching the kids play, Pete listened to Mal share how he used to go to church. But Mal got turned off when the church he was attending kicked out a drunk guy. Pete shared how he doesn’t go to a traditional church. He described how he and the family read scriptures, pray and obey Jesus together. Mal thought that was pretty cool! So Pete was able to pray with Mal as the kids played.
40 towns in 40 days
Leading up to the annual Praxeis 40 days of Prayer and Fasting, the Regional VIC team discussed what to do. After prayer and throwing around ideas, something was birthed. To pray in ‘40 towns in 40 days’. This felt pretty impossible but it was clear that God had spoken. Everyone prayed about the towns that they were going to go to. And then off they went! In the end, they lost count of how many towns they ended up praying in! They covered at least 65 towns (about 20% of all the towns in Regional Victoria) with over 100 hours of prayer.
Being on the ground meant the team could see for themselves the many challenges facing these places. Needs like in the shrinking town of Morwell. They are also discovering some of the barriers to the Gospel as they hear how the locals view church. Locals like Mal, who was still open to prayer but closed to going back to church.
Vicki encourages us:
“If you have a heart for an area or a people group, go there and prayer walk! Be in the places that you are praying for and be amongst the people. It makes it all so much more real! You taste the food and you buy the produce. And you see people in front of you. It’s also a great way to bring people on the journey of disciple making. Take them prayer walking with you. As we pray, we believe that God is doing something!”
In Luke 10:1-3 Jesus sends out his disciples to pray. Movement is birthed and sustained in prayer. Jesus tells his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out more workers into his harvest field”.
Where will you pray? Who will you take along with you? Jesus is calling us to pray. Who knows the locals God might connect us with. People who are spiritually open. Someone like Mal.
But first, Jesus instructs us to pray for these people. To ask the Lord of the harvest for more workers!