Over the years I’ve been involved in numerous youth missions and have had the privilege of seeing many young people give their life to Jesus.

There was one mission that was particularly special. We began the week by looking at John 17 with the team. We read the prayer of Jesus right before He was arrested: I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” (17:11).

I wonder what you would pray right before your death. It’d probably be the most important prayer you’d ever pray. This moment is no different; Jesus prays a heart-felt prayer that God’s children would be one. He pours His whole soul into this prayer as He longs for His disciples to be united.

Jesus then prays for all believers: My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity” (17:20 – 23a).

The Lord is longing for us to be united to reflect His glory, to show His love to the world. We are called to reflect the unity in the godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – so that the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (17:23b). Jesus prays for real unity that would lead to hearts, minds, actions and desires that instinctively align and work together. He’s praying that God would do it, not us. You can’t force unity.

We prayed together as we began the mission, asking that the Lord would help us. We committed to speak well of each other, to affirm one another, to cheer each other on, to seek to be one in heart and mind, to be encouraging, and to show compassion to one another and every person we met. It was incredible to be in such a loving environment where the Holy Spirit was clearly empowering us to serve together in unity.

By the end of the week all the young people we’d journeyed with had heard the gospel and many had surrendered their life to Jesus. It was fascinating that several said in their feedback that our unity helped draw them to Christ. Unity and mission certainly go together.

By the end of the week all the young people we’d journeyed with had heard the gospel and many had surrendered their life to Jesus. It was fascinating that several said in their feedback that our unity helped draw them to Christ.

I’ve always longed to see revival in the UK. It’d take a mighty move of God but also a heart that says, I’m choosing to love no matter what; Lord, will you fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me?” Imagine if we did this together— our love might supernaturally spill out onto the streets in a way that transformed society both socially and spiritually.

The challenge of Jesus’ prayer is inescapable. He envisages and petitions His Father for a unity among His followers that’s visible to the world so that those outside the church are drawn towards it. Jesus’ cry in John 17 is deeply evangelistic; the whole world doesn’t yet know God, but those of us who do need to share Him with the world, and we need to do it together. Oh Lord, for the sake of the world, please make us one.

the whole world doesn’t yet know God, but those of us who do need to share Him with the world, and we need to do it together.