We’ve Got Your Back
by Matthew Ellison

My Mother, Dorothy Ellison
Nearly nine years ago my mother and father began a weekly prayer ministry for Sixteen:Fifteen.  On Wednesday mornings we would rally our staff and, together with my parents, we would pray through a list of ministry partners.  We would pray for churches that we were coaching, for people groups being engaged by these churches, and we would pray for our precious prayer and financial partners.  Each weekly prayer meeting would conclude with a time of writing notes of thanksgiving and encouragement to all those who had been mentioned in prayer.  Our goal was to pray through our entire list of partners at least twice a year.

Seven years ago my mother was diagnosed with Pick’s disease, a rare and aggressive form of dementia.  (Click here for more on my mom.)  In fact, prior to her diagnosis, one of the indicators that something was not right with my mom were the thank you notes she had written.   I remember my dad saying, “Matthew, we can’t send your mom’s notes any more, they just don’t make sense.”  I insisted we continue to send them as long as Mom was able to write them…perhaps you were a recipient of one of those beautiful cards?

Eventually, my parents stopped coming in and my dad’s main ministry became caring for my mom as she surrendered to the ravages of dementia.  Though the Sixteen:Fifteen family has done our best to keep that prayer ministry alive, to be frank, it has never been the same since my parents stepped aside.

My sweet mother flew to Jesus just over two months ago, bringing my father’s ministry to her to conclusion.  My siblings and I have encouraged my dad to pick up the prayer ministry that he and my mother had started.  We explained, not only would this be an amazing way to honor Mom, but turning his attention to God and to others would be a balm for his wounded heart. 

My dad praying for our ministry partners
Yesterday was my dad’s first day back at Sixteen:Fifteen in seven years.  We prayed for our partners and I wrote cards on his behalf because of his failing vision.  My dad’s first prayer deeply touched me and I know that it moved God.  He prayed, “Father, I hardly know how to pray anymore and I don’t even know what to say…,” then proceeded to intercede for our churches and partners.  I know that God was moved and I know that He was near:

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

So if you are one of our church or ministry partners, be encouraged, because once a week a team of people are gathering to make mention of you before our Father.  There is a popular idiom that figuratively describes our prayerful labor on your behalf, “We’ve got your back.”  It means to provide support for someone when they enter difficult or dangerous situations.  Make no mistake, as a church engaged in world missions or a donor standing beside us with your prayers and resources, you are a part of a dangerous work and you need our support as much we need yours.  We’ve got your back!

For more information on how 16:15 can help unleash your church’s potential to reach the nations, call to talk with a Church Coach at 505-248-1615 or email info@1615.org