(Thanks to Ross for inspiration on this one, and you'll find a link at the end that reports on a wonderful ministry to which the Lord has called he and his wife.)
"Where We Least Expect Him"
Many years ago, we participated in an English language school for internationals. My responsibility involved sharing the Gospel with the participants in short services conducted between classes. We were greatly blessed by meeting and getting to know people from all over the world. More importantly, we hope that we were able to faithfully communicate the Lord Jesus Christ with the students, many of whom returned to their home country after spending time in the United States.
One day, a young lady from Japan came up to me after class. It was her last time with us, and she wanted to say goodbye. More importantly, she shared her testimony of faith in the Lord Jesus. This blessed me greatly, of course, and led to a discussion about Christianity in Japan. I indicated my understanding that few Japanese trust Christ as Savior and Lord. Politely, but firmly, the young lady responded, "Oh, that's not actually true. There are more Christians than you think in Japan." She proceeded to tell me that while Japan has relatively few Christian churches, many people know the Lord and gather together in homes for fellowship and ministry to one another. "The culture doesn't allow for a great deal of public Christianity" said the young lady, "but there are there still many Japanese believers who meet in home churches."
"The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).
It's easy to think of countries where it may seem the Gospel has little foothold. In the outward sense, this may be true. However, just as the early church experienced persecution that drove much of its practice underground, the same is often is often the case in contemporary cultures dominated by pagan religions or modernism. Indeed, look hard enough, and you'll find believers even in the United States! :):) Seriously, the Gospel shines forth with a Light that penetrates cultural and national opposition that may hinder, but cannot ultimately thwart the saving purposes of God in the world. Genuine Christianity seems to thrive not where it finds open acceptance, but rather where it faces great challenge, hindrance, and even persecution. Our very faith began with a political and religious cultural persecution that killed our Founder. This led to His resurrection and our hope. Thus, we should expect to find the risen Lord Jesus mightily at work where we least expect Him to be. Or perhaps we won't "find" Him, but rather know by faith that in venues where it seems that God's hand is stilled, it may be far more active in His loving redemption than we can imagine…
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
"Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew."
Weekly Memory Verse
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.