Can you think of a time when your heart overflowed with songs of praise for the Lord? For our family, that happens whenever we think about the small but growing church in the Caspian region. In the past fifteen years, our family has been privileged to be a part of the remarkable work God is doing in this unreached people group.
But has our love for them been unwavering? You might assume so, given our deep involvement in the country; after all we’ve moved there three separate times, have led Vision Trips and monthly Barnabas Team prayer meetings, and attended conferences about the Caspian people. And yet, even we have discovered that we needed to return to have our hearts revived with a fresh vision for the people we have labored with, prayed for, and loved for so long.
A New Song
Back in 2015, we were heartbroken when health issues made it impossible for us to continue our ministry work there. Abruptly, we had to return to the U.S. But this fall, we rejoiced at the opportunity to be a part of a Vision Trip to the Caspian. Being there again made us want to join the prophet Isaiah when he wrote, “Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise goes out to the ends of the earth”(Isa. 42:10).
It’s a perfect verse and a perfect prayer—that the people living in this troubled spot on the earth would come to know the One who’s worthy of all our songs of praise.
We love many things about these people and this country located on the Caspian Sea, but one particular place in the city captures our hearts every time. Without being too specific, and endangering the believers there, I can say it is a sobering memorial that commemorates a grave injustice against the people—an estimated 100 innocent civilians—mowed down in a futile attempt to maintain Communism.
Why There’s Still Hope
As we walked around this place and remembered the terrible violence, the senseless suffering, and the death of so many people, we couldn’t help but mourn over the likelihood that none of these Caspian people knew our Lord Jesus. We walked silently, winding up a hill, and looked over the city. We reminded ourselves that while we can’t doing anything for those who have perished, there is still a chance for those who walk the streets of this city and in the remote regions of this unreached country. These people still have a chance to sing a song of praise to the Lord.
Our heart in sharing this is to remind us all: the Lord is reviving; his praise still goes out to ends of the earth. Sometimes, we forget that. Despite fifteen years of ministry, our family found that to be true. We needed refreshing—fresh hope and courage to continue believing that his heart is greater than the darkness that the people of the nations experience.
Whether you’ve never been on a Vision Trip, or consider yourself an “old timer” in church and missions life, know that there is always a new song to sing. A Vision Trip might spark a fire in you—either for the first time, or perhaps to experience the reviving of something that needs to be fanned into flame! His song is ringing clear over his world and reviving hearts! He loves all his people and is worthy of praise in all the corners of the earth.
Singer and songwriter, Chris Rice puts it well in his song “And Your Praise Goes On,”
“Now rise up everything that lives!
Flap your wings and leap for joy!
Oh forest lift your arms and sway!
Clap your hands you ocean waves!
And your praise goes on, rising to your throne!
Where you bless our toil and play.
Through the clouds they rise, your praises fill the skies!
Till the setting of the sun.
And your praise goes on.”