ArticleBible & Theology

Prayer Focus: Counting It All Joy

Missionaries may suffer greatly—and yet are called to rejoice.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds...” (James 1:2 ESV)

Even on a good day, missions is tough.

Trials and difficulties come in various shapes and sizes. Sickness, disabilities, accidents, injuries, job-loss, abuse, injustice, conflict, break-ups, pandemics, and deaths of loved ones can bring deep pain, grief, and sorrow. Just one of these can knock the wind out of us.

In the first century, James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote to a group of dispersed Jewish believers as they faced the trial of persecution. This resulted in them being displaced from their homes and scattered throughout neighboring countries and lands. Although a painful situation, James emphatically told them, Count it all joy.

Count is sometimes translated consider. It means to hold a view or have an opinion. It is the first of over 50 commands used by James. He understood that joy is not typically our first response to trials. So, he gave this command to lead his audience to the correct response. Essentially James said, “adjust your attitude.”

In the current century, James’ words give hope to a group of dispersed believers as they face the trial of cross-cultural ministry. Missionaries are dispersed peoples. They are intentionally displaced from their homes and scattered around the world with the goal of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples. They are not immune from trials. In fact, even on a good day, missions is tough.

Learning a language, adapting to a new culture, buying groceries in outdoor marketplaces that barter for the best all produce levels of stress. But those serving in hard-to-reach places trying to reach people resistant and hostile to the gospel, takes stress to another level. But James’ imperative still give hope, count it all joy.

The Fulani people of West Africa are a dispersed and scattered group. They are the largest nomadic pastoral community living in nearly every country of the West African savanna, between Senegal and Cameroon. Primarily a Muslim people, some factions are heavily armed, militant, and resistant to the gospel. They are unreached because they are hard to reach. But they need to be reached.

Pray with us as we ask God to send teams to reach the Fulani. Pray that they would count it al joy in the midst of difficult ministry.

This week, let’s pray:

“Heavenly Father, show me how I can help send teams to the Fulani people. I ask that you would give joy to these missionaries as they serve.


Prayer requests for the Fulani:

  1. Pray for wisdom in knowing how reach hearts not guarded by guns.
  2. Pray for opportunities to make contacts and have Gospel conversations.
  3. Pray for protection of believers amid militant activity hitting easy targets.
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About the Author

Bobby Hile is ABWE’s Director of Long-Term Mobilization. Prior to that, he served for 9 years as a senior pastor in Ohio and for almost 20 years with ABWE as a missionary in South Africa.

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