Hope and Joy share from Oaksia, a country in Asia, celebrating God’s goodness through a brother-in-Christ.
(Editor: Hope, Joy, and Oaksia are pseudonymns for the two missionaries and the country that they serve in.)
Way past midnight, Hope and Joy arrived at their destination. It was the largest province in this country, yet the commune was so deep inside the province that there was no mobile coverage! They were getting off the bus when the bus conductor asked them “Oh, you are not from here. Who will you be meeting?”
When Hope and Joy told him the name of their brother-in-Christ, the bus conductor exclaimed, “Oh! Everyone knows him! He was so notorious. All he did was drink and drink and was a good-for-nothing fellow!” The bus conductor went on to explain, “But you know, something really strange happened to him. He’s no longer the village drunkard. Instead, he’s going around telling people spiritual stories! He’s really a changed man. Everyone now calls him Teacher.”
P, a Brother-in-Christ
The family had sent this problematic alcoholic son to be a labourer in Malaysia, hoping to get some good out of him. Out of boredom in a strange land, P decided to join the church activities. After a year or so, by God’s grace and by faith, he accepted Christ into his life. P then experienced a miraculous deliverance from his alcohol addiction. He just had no desire to drink anymore. The transformation was stark.
When he returned home, P’s wife was the first person he shared the Gospel with. P’s wife knew then that this must be a work of God. Her husband was a completely new person! Who was this God who could turn her husband around and rescue their family in this way? She put her faith in Jesus Christ.
Holy Spirit at Work
The next morning after Hope and Joy arrived, they gathered for prayer at dawn with P and his wife, seeking a new season for this commune. It had been some years now, but the ground was still hard. They asked the Holy Spirit to empower the couple afresh. Both are simple farmers, unschooled in Christian education like the apostles in Acts 4:13, but clearly they had been with Jesus.
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”Acts 4:13
Hope and Joy testify to what happened next: P’s wife began to weep. She said that God told her that she needed to read the Word of God and share the good news with all her relatives in the area. P’s wife prayed out loud, a prayer so deep and powerful that even mature church planters would not be able to utter so fluently. Hope and Joy were amazed. Surely the Holy Spirit was doing something in this province.
P’s Testimony to the Church
“Greetings to you. Our church is so glad to be a part of God’s church. In the time that I have been a follower of Jesus, I have experienced the grace of God, and am filled with much joy. Before knowing God, I have had much sorrow in my life.
But God has chosen us, dear brothers and sisters; not that we are many, in fact we are very few; but God has chosen us to carry out an extraordinary work. The crowds are always interested in the pleasures of life, but we are not like that. We are not like them. And so, there are times when we are ridiculed by the crowds. Ridiculed for not participating in the revelry of drinking. Ridiculed for being fools. But even when we are scorned, our hearts are filled with joy, my brothers and sisters. We are joyful because we are doing the work of heaven. The work of heaven!
When we serve God, we must have the word of God to respond to them. Many times, they sneer at us, but we are not lacking in any way. They continue to sneer and speak against us in their arrogance, but we continue to be joyful. Why? Because we have God in our hearts, dear brothers and sisters. We have God in us. God is the one who blesses us with His peace.
In the time that we live on this earth, when we give thanks to God, we shall experience the joy of the Lord. No matter what is going around us or done against us, we can see. And why can we truly see? Because God has opened our eyes to see why people are like this and why we are different.
We must answer this question, dear brothers and sisters, why is it that we are always smiling and joyful? Why is it that we can be joyful and refreshed every new day? Because every day we can fellowship with God, we can surrender everything to God, and we don’t need to be sad anymore.
As the song goes, “When we have Jesus, we have everything.” This is so true. When we obey God, we have the peace of God. The peace that God blesses us with, not the peace that the world gives.
We have experienced this here. We are but three persons in this church, but we can really sense the joy of the Lord. It is a real joy. There is always laughter amidst the scorn. In the time when we have been serving God, the more intense the sneers, the greater the joy because we can worship our Creator God. And God has chosen us, we who have no standing whatsoever, that our families can live in joy, peace, and harmony.
I want to testify to you that this is what God gives to us, when we persevere like our Lord Jesus persevered. We must press on, and then we will have the true peace of God that comes only from Him. Only from God, and God alone, my brothers and sisters.
And it will increase as we choose to walk with God. The more we walk with Him, the more we will see His goodness. The greater the surrender, the greater the joy, the greater the peace.
I thank God for opening our eyes to see this. Though we are few, we will continue to sing praise to God because our hearts are so joyful. Only God. I hope these words will encourage you to keep walking and following Jesus. No matter what our circumstances are, our reward of following Jesus is in heaven. There, there are no sounds of crying.
Where Jesus is, we have His peace. Where the Spirit of God is, we have true joy.
Praise God for delivering P from his addiction, and giving him much joy. Would you pray with P and the church as they persevere in sharing Christ with their community in Oaksia?
Photos courtesy of Hope and Joy.