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The power of prayer

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WORLD Radio - The power of prayer

Meet a man who loves to pray with strangers


Photo by Myrna Brown

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Wednesday, August 3rd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: The prayer of a righteous person!

Myrna, according to the rest of that verse in the book of James it has great power and can accomplish much.

BROWN: And I met a man from Wisconsin who is doing his best to put that verse to the test. Let’s listen!

CONCERT: You guys know this one…. sing out….

MYRNA BROWN CORRESPONDENT: It’s Friday afternoon… day two of a four-day Christian music festival. As thousands of excited concert goers gather around the outdoor stage, a 72-year-old grandfather strolls through the festival’s crowded indoor market. Tee-shirts, books, and CDs fill the space. But Chema Paba isn’t focused on the music or the merchandise.

CHEMA TO CHRIS: Chris it’s a pleasure to meet you. Good to meet you, too. What’s your name? I’m Chema. Any special way I can pray for you?

Chema isn’t just a people person. He’s a self-proclaimed prayer warrior, who’s never met a stranger he wasn’t led to pray for.

CHEMA: Lord Jesus I pray for your continued anointing upon Chris and his family. What precious girls you have given him. I love them where they are at. That’s what He calls me to do. Those God-appointed encounters. I don’t know these people. I make eye contact. The Lord says go talk to them and it's amazing what happens.

Up one aisle, down the next, Chema prays with a middle-aged woman working as a Christian college recruiter at the festival. He also chats with the founder of an online radio station. Then, he walks over to a young man with long, dark, curly hair selling bathroom fixtures.

CHEMA TO VENDOR: Have you been here before? First time here. Hey, welcome man. What’s your name? Jesse. Jesse, I’m Chema. Is there any special way I can pray for you? I’m not interested today. You’re not interested. I’m not selling anything. There’s no charge. Do you mind? I’m not interested today…

As we walk out of the marketplace, headed towards the golf cart Chema uses to traverse the 100-acre-venue, Chema says he can’t remember the last time someone turned down prayer.

CHEMA: So you’re not discouraged by that? Not at all. I take it as a challenge to love them as God has loved me. Because for a while I rejected God. But he didn’t give up on me. He pursued me.

Chema was born in Caracas, Venezuela.

CHEMA: Was I a Christian? I went to church. But I really did not know Him as my Lord.

That missing relationship with Jesus left him vulnerable. During his senior year in high school, he was introduced to Marxism.

CHEMA: And that captivated my heart because they have a lot to say about social injustice and justice overall.

Four years later, Chema was a college senior. A friend of a friend gave him a Bible. The acquaintance encouraged Chema to read it. He was persistent.

CHEMA: I said, you don’t give up do you? He said eternity is a very long time. Do you know where you’re going to spend it? I said let’s do it before I change my mind. And I did it. All I knew is that I knew at that moment there was a real God, who cares about real people, who lives in a real world that is truly broken.

After college, Chema worked as an accountant and later as a project manager for an international corporation. While he enjoyed material success, Chema says true contentment was still elusive.

CHEMA: Well, since I was in seventh grade I didn’t grow any longer. My buddies kept on growing.

Standing just a few inches over five feet, Chema says he always felt he had something to prove.

CHEMA: I wanted people to know that because I was short, you’re not going to push me around. Because I’m short, I’m not a weakling.

In this last season of his life, Chema says he now rests in his identity in Christ.

CHEMA: And I said Lord forgive me. I want my all, my frame, 5’4 or however tall it is or however short, I’m going to serve you with passion.

Chema is a chaplain in the prison system. It’s how he makes a living.

AUDIO: [FOR KING AND COUNTRY CONCERT]

But every year since 1999, he uses his vacation time to serve as the chaplain at this music festival.

CHEMA: Sometimes I want to listen to a concert. Nine out of ten times I never make it there…

But he does get to pray for the men and women on stage.

CHEMA: What’s your performance, what you do? I’m a rapper. You’re a rapper? Yeah!

Standing under a huge white tent, Chema strikes up a conversation with Caleb, a Christian rap artist in the middle of his lunch.

CHEMA TO CALEB: How do you come to know Christ? It was 2018, I graduated from high school, I was in this depressing state and I decided to take God seriously….

Then over a burger and pasta…

CHEMA TO CALEB: Do you mind if I pray with you? Oh yeah, come on. Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, I thank you for this man. May people come to know You because of his testimony…

Before leaving the tent, Chema notices Dennis, a festival volunteer, wearing work boots and a baseball cap.

DENNIS: My wife filed for divorce after 36 years…

Chema learns he’s fighting for his broken marriage.

CHEMA: Father, you know my brother Dennis. You know exactly what he’s going through.

MYRNA TO DENNIS: What did that mean to have someone in this venue pray for you? What did it mean? (pause) The world.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown in OshKosh, Wisconsin.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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