Stories from our field

Alfa Wijnveen: “Prayer sets things in motion”

Stories from our field

Alfa Wijnveen: “Prayer sets things in motion”

She sees prayer as nourishment and has found that praying sets things in motion like a motor. Alfa Wijnveen has a lot to share and teach about prayer. That’s why she wrote the course “Teach Us to Pray”, which takes students on a journey of discovery to enrich their own prayer life. It’s time for an interview with this inspirational woman.

For Alfa, prayer plays a very important role in her life and relationship with God: “As children of God, we speak to our Father through prayer. I can’t imagine how a relationship with Him would work without this communication.” 

Teach us to Pray

Over the past six months, Alfa has been working on a course on prayer for GlobalRize, together with Esther Visser. The course is called, ‘Teach Us to Pray’ and in it, Alfa pays specific attention to how prayer works, and what prayer does for the person praying, for the people who are prayed for, and for their relationship with God. 

“For many people – including Christians – this is new,” Alfa explains. “They are not familiar with personal prayer and don’t know why prayer is necessary. New believers are eager to learn, but often don’t have a church nearby in their part of the world. Until we can connect them with a church, we try to help them shape their prayer life. 

People who have been Christians for a while often only pray whilst at church, and experience prayer there as something religious and ‘complicated’ that needs to comply with all kinds of rules.

Therefore, for both groups, the first step is to learn how to pray. Not so much in terms of asking for all sorts of things, but entering into a conversation with their Heavenly Father.

Prayer as nourishment

Alfa experiences prayer as nourishment. “God communicates with us through the Word and through the Holy Spirit. And sometimes through other people. He wants to have a relationship with us and prayer is the time when He listens to us. There is a reason why Jesus regularly emphasized the importance of prayer” [ed. e.g. in Matthew 6:5-15 and 7:7-11, Luke 6:28 and 18:7]. 

For those who doubt the effectiveness of prayer, Alfa has an encouraging message. “Prayer does set things in motion. It works like an engine. I see that in the stories of people who contact GlobalRize. For example, they think they ‘accidentally’ saw a GlobalRize ad, but then it turns out that someone had been praying for them to find faith, for a long time.
When I started the Portuguese language team, I soon found volunteers to support me in the work, but there was no one to help with the translation work.” 

Under Alfa’s leadership, the team started praying specifically for help. Out of the blue, someone was willing to take on the translation of the Bible reading plans. “A young man from Brazil. It had ‘just suddenly’ occurred to him,” Alfa laughs gratefully. “Out of the blue, he had realized, ‘I would like to do that work!’ But how he had arrived at that thought – no idea!”

High-impact answers to prayer

Alfa emphasizes that the effect of prayer should not be underestimated, or approached incorrectly. “Carelessly praying for something we don’t actually want, may have an effect we don’t want. Nor is it the case that God is obliged to make everything right the way we want it.”  

But He does get to work on it, and answers to prayer can be profound. Alfa tells of a young woman, in her 20s or so, who had been very depressed for a long time. She had started a course at GlobalRize and was allocated Alfa as a mentor. “My mother hates me,” the young woman had said. “She’s always yelling at me. If I can get a job and have the money to leave, I will.” 

Instead of praying for a job, Alfa suggested to the woman that every morning, upon waking up, she should pray for peace with her mother, and love for her mother – the kind of love Jesus has for us. 

After that, Alfa heard nothing from the woman for a while. But when the woman reported back, something had changed: “She had done what I had advised. The mother had come up to her several times, seemingly with the intention of arguing, but on every occasion, had turned around without saying a word. Eventually at the dinner table, normal conversation resumed. They had found peace in their relationship.” 

Muslim woman from Mozambique

Another woman contacted GlobalRize from Mozambique. Her strict-Islamic husband, to whom she had been married for more than a decade, was involved with several other women. After seeing an ad from GlobalRize, she began a course, asking very profound questions. She realized her marriage wasn’t right, and wondered if she should divorce. The Portuguese team member who was her mentor, asked pointed questions but gave no advice regarding the divorce. The woman took course after course and also wanted to attend a church. GlobalRize found a church for her, and the Portuguese team started praying for her: that she might be well received and that everything would go well. 

The woman reported back highly surprised: the pastor in that church turned out to be her husband’s employer! Alfa: “God is at work with that family. The woman now knows that she believes in Jesus and wants to live with Him. We are very curious if her husband will also come to faith now, because we have seen so many times how God brings people together. Especially during chat sessions, we see examples of that.” 

On the verge of giving up

The case of the Mozambican woman’s broken marriage is not an isolated one, unfortunately. Alfa says that in the beginning of her work for GlobalRize, she felt very burdened by all the grief and despair she had to deal with. “Because of the stories of violence and abuse, I couldn’t sleep for nights,” she sighs. “At my church’s prayer circle, someone said, ‘There’s only one way: give it to God!’ That night she prayed for me. I was about to give up, but that night I slept well. I felt peace and tranquility. After that, I never experienced restlessness again.”

God’s guidance and the peace that can only come from Him are wonderful examples of the effect prayer can have. Alfa loves to talk about them.

The prayer course written by Alfa will initially be released in English and Portuguese, only. However, there are already plans to make it available in Dutch as well.

 

 

Mentors needed

We are looking for mentors for Teach Us to Pray! Do you have a desire to mentor people in their quest for a richer prayer life, or do you know someone who might be a good mentor for this course? Sign yourself/them up with Emmie Kaljouw ([email protected]). 

 

Alfa Wijnveen has been with GlobalRize since 2020 and is originally from Angola.
She leads the Portuguese language team of GlobalRize, which has a wide reach particularly in Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and, of course, Portugal itself. 

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