Rejoicing in Heaven!

This week started off in the BEST way!  I got a call last Sunday night from Julie and I could tell by the excitement in her voice that something good had happened.

“Anastasia got saved tonight!”  Julie was bubbling over with joy.

“Oh, praise the Lord!  Tell me how it came about!”  I exclaimed.  We had been praying for this since the day Julie and David had made the decision to adopt her.

The Sanchez family had just moved to California and this was their first Sunday there.  They visited one church in the morning and a second one that evening.  It just so happened that the church they attended that night was having the Lord’s Supper (Communion.)  The service had already started by the time they discovered that, however, and Julie and David whispered between themselves.  We believe Communion is only for those who are born-again believers, and then after they have confessed to the Lord whatever sins might be standing between them and Him.  They knew Benjamin, Joshua and Hannah had been saved and baptized, but were unsure about James and Anastasia.

Since they had brought them home from the Ukraine, David and Julie, and even the other three kids, had been faithful witnesses to the two newest members of the family.  They had not failed to have family devotions every night with them, and Anastasia and James had quickly taken up daily reading their Bibles when they saw how important it was to their American siblings.  There was a language barrier at first, though, and even when they could get across what was necessary for daily living or fun and games, talking about spiritual things or deeper concepts was more difficult.  Julie and David were very careful not to push James and Anastasia, as well.  When they finally came to accepting Jesus as their Savior, it had to be totally their decision, not because they wanted to please their new parents, but because they saw their need for salvation and truly wanted to be saved.

Now Hannah, who was sitting next to Julie, whispered.  “What should we do, Mommy?”  She had taken communion back in Alabama at their old church, but now in this church they were visiting for the first time, she was unsure.  The other kids were looking to David and Julie as well for direction.

Julie whispered back, “Well, if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you can take communion.  Pass it on!”  Anastasia and James were sitting at the far end of the pew and though it seemed a little silly to say pass it on, as if it were a game of Chinese Telephone, it was the only way Julie could think of to get the message to them.

Anastasia took communion.  James did not take the bread, but took the juice.  The experience opened a floodgate of questions when they got in the car to go home and afterwards while they ate supper.  What was communion all about, anyway?  How does someone get saved?  What about baptism?  Their understanding of English was so much better now so it was easier to have this conversation.

When they were done, Anastasia took Julie aside and said, “Can I talk to you Mama?  I have some other questions.”  They went into her bedroom and it was there that Anastasia accepted Jesus as her Savior!  She prayed in Ukrainian, so Julie couldn’t understand what she was saying to the Lord, but when she was done the joy on her face was genuine and she was ready to run off and tell James he needed to get saved, too!

“No, no!  Wait!” Julie told her.  “Don’t push him!  He needs to do this on his own when he is ready.”

Anastasia agreed and went off to get ready for bed.  A moment later she came running after Julie.  “Mama!  Mama!  Now that I am saved, when we find a church, can I get baptized?”  This newborn baby believer was eager to bring others to Jesus and tell the world that she is a Christian!

They could see that James was under conviction.  He was unusually quiet and something was bothering him.  Before he went to bed David asked him if he wanted to talk.  “I have questions,” James admitted, “but I don’t want to talk about it tonight.”

In the morning, David had gone to work and James and Joshua were the only ones up.  “I prayed and prayed last night,” James confessed to his brother, “and I cried and cried.  Why did I cry?”

“Maybe because you know you need to be saved?” twelve-year-old Joshua suggested.  “Why don’t you talk to Mama when she wakes up?”

Julie was barely awake when James came in to talk to her.  He was concerned about the bad things he had done, and that if he got saved he would still do bad things.  Julie answered his questions and quietly encouraged him.  A few minutes later James, too, confessed his sins and accepted Jesus as his personal Savior!  Julie said the joy and relief was written all over his face.  He went around beaming all day!

Our prayers had been answered!  These two precious kids from a distant country had been rescued from what would have surely been a dismal, hopeless life, and now they were saved from an eternity without Christ, as well.  Their lives were changed, here on earth and forevermore in Heaven.  They were rejoicing, we, their family are rejoicing, and the Bible tells us there is rejoicing in Heaven as well.  Even the angels rejoice when a lost one comes to Jesus!  See what Luke 15:1-10 has to say:

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.  And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.  And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?  And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.  I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.  Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?  And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.   Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

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