“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:9).
Faith and joy are rare commodities among us, but valuable and precious beyond words. How extraordinary that we chase after other things in our meetings, at the expense of these. Our salvation is complete in Him, and we honor our God by not detracting from the all-sufficiency of the Gospel. In faith our desperation gives way to righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit—without measure! Our total trust in our Savior is the substance of our intimacy with Him, and no self-condemnation or weakness can diminish our fiery love affair with our God.
We trust Jesus to save us from ourselves. We trust Him to take initiative in and through us. All bright ideas come from Him, and He has no lack of them! We are set completely free from all pressure. There is no compulsion in His Kingdom.
But if we are so totally helpless without Him, how does He still enjoy our company? In Jesus we are the crowning achievement of all His creative power. We find our greatest liberty at the point of His most complete control, where we are set free by His Spirit to do what is most spectacularly, ravishingly perfect. We and our lives are the field of the activity of His mind, which we must never underestimate. We are the outcome and substance of His joy. By His Spirit we partake of His pleasure, tasting the perfection of relationship that could rise only from His infinite imagination. He delights in His own handiwork, which is our delight in Him. How perfect is our God!
We pass through repentance and tears again and again on our journey to our heavenly home, but these are not our destination. We endure for the joy set before us, the very motivation of Jesus Himself (Heb. 12:2). We are destined for the home of righteousness, where every tear is wiped away.
So in Africa we miraculously maintain a positive outlook in the face of the worst Satan can do. We lower ourselves in broken humility, only to rise in the joy of the Lord, more than conquerors through Him who loved us. By taking pleasure in our God, we rout the enemy. By pursuing the free gift of holiness and refusing condemnation, we find every reason to be light-hearted.
There is still so much work to be done among the poor and lost. So much suffering and disease remain. But faltering faith will not help us face reality. We much prefer to “live in denial,” reveling in what Jesus will do next among us. Hardly passive, we run the race in Him, taking hold of the promise of the Gospel in all its glory. We stay connected to the Head, carefully keeping our balance, learning to distinguish good from evil.
When down and tired, we strengthen ourselves and regain our joy by putting all our faith back in Him alone. We retreat into His heart, that safe place under His wings, that fortress in the Rock. We cannot lose. We will not be ashamed. We will see the salvation of the Lord spread through the most unstable, violent and out-of-control areas of Africa. Jesus knows how to glorify Himself and look out for His own reputation. We are unspeakably graced to participate in His work. And then we awake to new mercies and fresh motivation, never stepping away from Him and the life that flows from the vine into the branches.
In newsletter after newsletter we have issued an invitation to join us in missions. We do that not out of desperation, but in faith and love. It is to your advantage to obey the Gospel, freely and with great joy, bearing tremendous fruit. May you hear His voice clearly and respond with His energy. In our world here in Africa, we have great needs of every kind, but we look forward with huge anticipation to what Jesus will do through His Body… We are already overwhelmed by what He has been doing through all of you who have helped us in so many ways.
Heidi and I are now returning to our bases in Africa after another round-the-world speaking trip. And we will be confronting a fresh onslaught of pressures and crises from multiple directions. Here in Africa what we preach to the outside world is tested to the uttermost. In this this crucible we become more than conquerors. There is no shortcut to heaven. We are here to glorify our God through every quality of His divine nature: faith, patience, endurance, boldness, fearlessness, sometimes experiencing miraculous deliverance, and sometimes enduring suffering according to the will and power of God.
Incessant flooding this year in our part of Africa has left many tens of thousands of people homeless and destitute. The rains have cut off whole towns from electricity and basic supplies as power lines, bridges and roads have been heavily damaged. At our main base in Pemba our staff is turning to wood and charcoal to cook for thousands of people every day. Propane, gasoline and diesel fuel are running out. Food supplies in town are going down. A few ships are helping with the situation, but not nearly enough.
In nearby Malawi our Iris base is located in a low-lying flood plain that has just been ravaged by the worst flooding in its history, and still more cyclones are forecast at this start of another rainy season. Our Iris missionaries and their staff are doing all they can to cooperate with the efforts of all aid agencies involved.
But we are more than an aid agency. We are ambassadors of Jesus the King, pointing souls to their utter need of a perfect Savior, capable of being all and everything they need anywhere in any arena. In 2000 massive flooding in the south of Mozambique triggered a national cry for God that resulted in unheard-of church growth. People demanded churches, Bibles and pastors more than food and clothes. Signs and wonders exploded. Life is more than stuff. We set our hearts on what is unseen and eternal. We trust the purposes of God, which far exceed ours in breadth, length and depth.
And so now we pray for a continuation and acceleration of all that our God has accomplished in Mozambique in our corner of Africa. Mozambique, once the poorest nation on earth, has in recent years experienced the discovery of extensive deposits of natural resources — in fulfillment of amazing prophecies. But for such natural wealth to trickle down to the countryside and the “bush-bush” where most of the people live, and for greed and corruption to be kept subdued, the word of the Lord must spread in the fear of God. Through the pressures we now face we are clinging to Jesus, who is our wisdom and holiness. He knows how to balance discipline with blessing, training with abundance, perspective with short-term ease. Through experience we are always learning to distinguish good from evil. We are after the outcome of His dealings with us.
We thank you for the joy and privilege of sharing our lives with you as in all our unique ways we together serve the Lord. May joy crown your lives as we press forward to what lies ahead!
Huge love in Jesus, always, Rolland