In the midst of a world gripped by the fear of COVID-19, despondency over widespread political unrest and military coups, plus panic due to societal upheaval, I am constantly receiving reports from Empower’s national partners, describing the incredible and deep joy that encapsulates their ministries. Many of these believers are facing intense persecution, suffering and a lack of the bare necessities of life. And yet they are ecstatic about the growth of the Body of Christ in their countries. Therefore, the question that I am continually left with is this: Where are these feelings of joy and fulfillment, under such circumstances, emanating from?
To understand the answer to this question, we must comprehend the meaning of “missions.” The definition of this term that Empower embraces is this:
Missions is when Spirit-empowered believers lead people to a saving, born-again encounter with Christ and establish them in groupings of faithful disciples, while prioritizing those who have no or limited access to the Gospel message.
Therefore, the focal point of missions, and for that matter life and human existence in general, is that people turn to God through Jesus. As I have pointed out to you in previous writings, today we are witnessing widespread and massive spiritual awakenings in dozens of countries. Missions has never been so successful on a global scale, and it appears that even better days lie before us.
In the midst of this great outpouring of the Spirit, we are observing an undeniable, yet for some, a totally overlooked truth. When lost souls discover salvation in Jesus (in large numbers or small), those existing members of the Body of Christ (i.e. older Christians) are automatically experiencing a surge of joy, exhilaration, and excitement. This is because, when we are born again, God builds into a believer’s spiritual DNA the capacity to greatly rejoice when the lost find salvation. This also means that when those of us who are saved look back into our own personal history, we can only imagine what life would have been like without Jesus. And when we do this, immediately we sense a bubbling up of the Holy Spirit within us, sparking an eruption of joy and thanksgiving to God for saving us. This explains why so many of you comment to me that as you read these reports of success in missions today, you are almost bursting inside with joy and excitement at what God is accomplishing through His Church. New, baby Christians are being born into the Family of God and “spiritual parents” like you and me, are ecstatic.
This is exactly what transpires in the hearts of national believers when the lost souls around them turn to Christ. They are spiritually mature enough to realize that life needs to be viewed from an eternal perspective, regardless of the current, difficult life conditions they are experiencing. Therefore, they agree with the Apostle Paul when he states, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 NASB). So, when someone accepts Christ in their midst, all their attention is immediately transferred to the most important thing in life—the miracle of a soul being saved—causing an explosion of relief and thanksgiving in those present.
These newly discovered “Christian emotions of joy” are all the more intense because in most areas of revival large numbers have accepted Christ within a short span of time. Most have recently come out of intense spiritual darkness and discovered the relief of salvation. The reality of walking out of judgement into grace is not based upon what they experienced 30 years ago, but more likely it is 30 days ago, or 30 minutes ago. The immediacy of salvation to them brings forth these emotions of joy and exhilaration, which leads them to increase their commitment and participation in missions and evangelism instantly.
With this in mind, look at these verses of Scripture through the eyes of newly born-again national believers and just envision how they would shout “Hallelujah” when they read them for the first time.
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come… Now the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!” … And He said to them, …Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” (Luke 10:1,17,18,20 NASB)
I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance… In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:7,10 NASB)
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4 NASB)
It is both normal and spiritually healthy to rejoice over missions and the advancement of the Kingdom of God on earth. When we gather as believers, to encourage each other with “success stories” in missions (as Empower is endeavouring to do), this only deepens our faith and passion for ministry opportunities. This confirms to us as believers who are living in a time of potential discouragement, that WE ARE WINNING this spiritual war we are engaged in, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the commitment of believers such as yourselves. This proves that participation in missions—and the joy it spawns—is one of the greatest rewards we believers will experience while we are still upon this earth.
In closing, a famous hymn written in the late 1800s is entitled, “Bringing in the Sheaves.” I sang it in church when I was growing up, not fully realizing the depth of meaning or significance it contained. The first verse goes like this:
Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
In so many countries of the world today, this is the song of victory that is on the lips of the national Church. It is a time for shouts of joy, renewed enthusiasm and energy, and sacrificial hours of labour, as we bring in the greatest harvest of souls in human history.