International (MNN) — When is the last time that passion for a cause has stirred you into action? Sometimes it seems that God directs us so quietly and subtly that we don’t really notice it. Other times, his direction is loud and obvious. The latter is true for this story.
Karen Carlson has been on the mission field for some time. She calls the United States her home country, but where she and her husband served for several years, she calls her heart country.
It was in the DRC that God opened her eyes to the widespread atrocities women around the world face every day. Carlson knew bad stuff was going on, but she wasn’t sure of the extent.
She came to a point in life where she had some extra time, and with it she began to do research about this country.
“I bought a couple of books and began reading them and there were times when I couldn’t read because I was crying so hard. There were times I couldn’t sleep because of what I was finding out.”
The crimes against these women that happened all the time — they were unfathomable. Unimaginable. It was a hard season for Carlson.
“As I began to read outside of my context, I saw that trafficking, and war crimes, and pornography, and how women are viewed and how they are used as chattel — all of those things were not just in my heart country […], it was throughout the world.”
War against women
It was at this time that Carlson saw clearly — women are at war. She realized that the enemy uses these crimes not only to hurt women, but to destabilize families and ultimately destabilize entire nations.
Fighting a war from home
Carlson knew God was asking her to do something with this information. But how could she help if she couldn’t go and do something? God was calling her to pray. He was also calling her to lead others in prayer.
She came up with 30 different topics that relate to the challenges facing women and children. Then, she asked God to show her how to pray for each one of them. This part, she said, was easy. God brought to mind different Scripture verses as she wrote up the prayers.
She was writing a book.
Her book, Prayer for Crowned Jewels, is a 30 day prayer guide to help people pray for women and children who have become targets of violence and abuse.
It’s available at Youversion, here.
Or online here.
In the center of these prayers, Carlson says, is the Gospel.
“How do you go through something like this apart from Christ? So, many of the prayers actually are talking about their access to Scripture. Do they have the Scripture in their heart language? And if they don’t, then I pray for that.
“I pray for evangelism, I pray for missionaries to have access, I pray for church leaders to rise up and to shepherd their congregation and to reach out and to look for those. We pray for the lost — all of those things are central to this.”
She believes in the power of prayer because she believes in the power of Jesus. He has much more to offer than the world does.
“I have read reports from non-believing standpoints and they said, ‘Some of these things women will never get over.’ And I want to say, ‘No! I don’t believe that. I believe that Jesus can go into the deepest pit, and I believe that Jesus can heal the greatest heartache that any of these women and children have gone through.’ But they have to know Jesus.”
Praying for others affects you
Through this journey, Carlson has discovered the powerful impact of praying for others.
“When people start praying for women and children who are, for the most part, worse off than we are, if there’s healing that needs to be done in their own life because they have had sexual abuse, or because they’ve not been valued as a woman, as you start praying God’s Word for other people, God starts working in your heart and healing your heart.”
God begins to share His heart on these issues with you. And this, Carlson explains, can draw you into action. Prayer is the beginning, the foundation, of ministry. She believes God will bring opportunity to express your heart for these issues in a new way.