Then Jesus told them this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders  and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.Luke 15:3-7 (New International Version)
In February 2015, Austin Brown joined a team of Charis Bible College students on a missions trip to Russia. Feeding his spirit with the testimonies of other students involved in the missions program at Charis, Austin expected to see God do amazing things in Russia. But he was unprepared for the life-altering revelation he would receive about God’s unfailing love for people.
“I went to Russia expecting to see great miracles,” Austin recalled. “And I did see amazing instantaneous healings. A lady with a broken wrist came for prayer and left with her mobility. A Muslim man allowed us to pray for his sore knees while waiting for the train. The pain left, and he literally began jumping and dancing. Another man brought his child to us for prayer. He had been struggling to breathe with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We prayed, and the child was healed. But it wasn’t the physical healings that impacted me; it was the revelation of God’s love.”
When the team arrived in Izhevsk in central Russia, they were told to prepare to minister in a hospital for special-needs children. “I was really looking forward to the opportunity to minister to these kids, however, when we arrived at the hospital, it was under quarantine. We were not allowed in.”
While the hospital dealt with the flu outbreak, the team began ministering to the mother of one of the children. She’d been wrestling with the misunderstanding that she had done something wrong and that God was punishing her child because of it. “I told her that God does not hold our sins against us—that He is a good God. And the healing for her daughter was provided through Jesus.” The life in Austin’s words set the woman free from guilt. She surrendered her life to Christ and was baptized in the Holy Spirit at that moment!
Later that night as Austin lay in bed reviewing his day, he found himself wishing he had been able to minister in the hospital. God spoke to his heart and said, “I sent you over 12,500 miles by plane to minister to that woman. And if she were the only woman you were able to personally touch, this trip was a success in My eyes!” At that moment, Austin realized what an unrelenting love God has for people. Not only has He given His Son, but as a Good Shepherd, He left the ninety-nine to find the one missing sheep from His pasture. “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18:11).