The partnership had been born several years earlier. It was focused on a previously unreached people group and was still working on initiatives together. In the midst of the partnership’s annual working meeting on a Sunday, we decided to go to one of the churches that had emerged in the last 2-3 years in this “unreached” people group. Six years ago these people had not even heard of Christ. What would it be like? Probably selfishly based on my own spiritual journey, I wondered how would these people be experiencing Christ?
We traveled through town…business as usual. We arrive at the church, a dilapidated old theater which becomes church on Sunday. As we gathered downstairs and waited for the service to begin, I was standing on the outside edge of the crowd. As I gazed at the unfamiliar surroundings, trying to soak all of it in, I became aware of a group of four young boys who were staring at me about ten feet away. They looked very uncomfortable. One of them stepped toward me and with a strained expression began to speak broken English. He told me that they had never been to a church before and wondered what it was like. They had come to try to figure out what Christians were all about. I was a little intimidated at this opportunity to witness to these boys. But I did my best, with God’s help, to tell them about Christ. I was thankful that they stayed for church. What a contrast to church in the US. Imagine having people come to church so open and so uncontaminated with the media’s image of western Christianity.
The doors finally opened and the anxious crowd began filing in. And then it happened. I was not prepared. This was a church filled with mostly brand new believers, how could they know God like this? With lively joyous music they began clapping their hands, lifting their voices and praising their God. There was a good “sermon”, but the powerful elements were unfettered praise and prayer. I had the overwhelming sense that these people had been in spiritual bondage for so long, but now were awakened to the Lord and they were filled to overflowing with His joy! Joy poured out of their hearts in song and dance. They could not keep still. I guess that is why they have named this place Joy Church…I can think of no better name!
Partnership…God’s people working together — bringing the church to the unreached. There is untold joy in being one voice and one heart in a growing fellowship of praising Him. There is untold joy in seeing His lost sheep being brought into His fold. We are blessed to be a part of His work and to witness His people coming together.