Be Joyful. Be Prayerful. Be Thankful.
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thess. 5:16-18
“Even if they jail us, we will preach… Even though it’s illegal, who can stop the mouth of Christ.”
These were the words out of our National Director's mouth while visiting Japan leading a seminar in Kumamoto. She and her husband shared that week powerfully about church multiplication and prayer and her teaching about prayer was convicting. About the husband and wife team, one Japanese pastor said, “He’s passion and she’s authority.”
Such is the power of this couple. He pastors a church in South Asia, and she leads a Bible College. Together they co-lead the work of Asian Access in their nation. As he taught principles of church planting, she complimented his teaching by sharing about the power of prayer. What struck me though was her teaching about “being joyful” even in the worst of circumstances.
She shared story after story of persecution: stories of imprisonment, threats against their lives, threats against their children yet she reminded us that day that God calls us to be joyful in all circumstances, even when we face the worst of situations.
Take some time and reflect on the primary passage she shared that day: 2 Corinthians 4. You’ll see what she means!
"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you." (vv. 8-12 but there is more to be mined in this passage)
She shared how in 1956 there were very few believers, but because of what Christ has done, even in the midst of tremendous pressure and persecution, today nearly 15% of their country is Christian. And, they have a vision to plant 75,000 churches in their nation by 2050 seeing a church planted every 3km.
Persisting in Prayer
She implored the Japanese leaders to pray and mentioned the widow praying before the unjust judge. Because of her perseverance, the judge relented. Read Luke 18:1-8 to get a sense of how important prayer is in the face of persecution. She said, “Unless God answers our prayer, we keep on praying!”
She shared the story of one widow who had lost everything. She made her way to their city to find a job and came to the church. Upon hearing about Christ, she prayed, “Lord, take care of me and my son.” She became a believer despite her strong religious background in the main religion of her area and she developed a passion for her home town. Eventually, she moved back to that town, built a business and a church to share the Gospel in that area: a completely unreached area. Her business success ended up being so fruitful that she donated land for a church to be built. From absolute poverty and loss of everything, her earnest prayer was rewarded by God and today her area has a church reaching her community.
We must persist in prayer: even when we face the worst of circumstances. God calls us to be joyful in the midst of all things and as we pray, we will see breakthroughs. As she said, “Unless God answers our prayer, we keep on praying!”
Do you find joy in the midst of the trials you are facing? And, will you join me in praying for the persecuted church?
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” — Psalm 107:1
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28
Joe Handley, President