In the documentary series Dispatches from the Front, director Tim Keesee tells the story of David, a gospel worker in the Southeastern European nation of Albania. Though the challenges for missions in Albania are immense, David persists with a simple approach: “Pray. Meet people. Tell them about Jesus.” And, little by little, people are coming to Christ and churches are being established.
The church today might appear to be faltering. Many pews are empty, younger members seem to be scattering, and enthusiasm is dwindling. From local communities to foreign countries, people barely acknowledge that the church exists, even if they drive past a building. Evangelistic outreach seems to bear no fruit at all. Baptisms of new converts are unusual. We can understand Isaiah’s descriptions: deserted, desolate, plundered by her enemies (vv. 4, 8).
This may be the church’s momentary condition. But it is not our promised future. At the end of time, God’s people will have glory, splendor, and praise (vv. 2, 3, 7). When people speak out—refusing to be silent—about the gospel, God will vindicate their message and make it winsome to its hearers. When people pray—persisting in their petitions to God—God will answer by ensuring that His people receive “the praise of the earth” (v. 7). When God’s people do diligent kingdom work, God promises to reward the Son with a redeemed people (vv. 11–12).
Through the simple work of prayer, meeting people, and telling them about Jesus, God promises to build up those who follow Him. The image that Jesus gives us is encouragement indeed: “The good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it” (Luke 16:16). As we press on, people will press in.
APPLY THE WORD
God has in the past poured out a spirit of revival in which many people have come to saving faith. Reading the historical accounts of these great spiritual revivals can encourage our hearts today, and one excellent resource is the book A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir by Collin Hansen and John D. Woodbridge.