Note: Names altered for purposes of security
Dear all, I wanted to share a very special weekend T. and I had last weekend.
Our dear brother and sister, R. & N., got married. The marriage of these two was very very special. Special as always because of the pure love that was displayed by them during their dating relationship in honor of God. Special also because a native of Washington married a native of a very traditional Chinese family from ____. It is only by God's power that two people of such different backgrounds were so deeply transformed and matured that they could connect at such deep level and commit their lives in faithful covenant to each other until death do them part.
Every brother and sister of this, just over 3 year old church, was serving their hearts out. The sense of love, family, and deep bonding electrified the air. Even the manager at the hall said she had never seen a wedding with so much love throughout all the guests. It was also special when, during the photo shoot the MC asked, 'Anyone who has spent the night at Rob's come on up!' it was about twenty different friends and brothers!
Later that night after some dates and parties, the single brothers had planned to go out for an all night prayer. I have been to several myself, but none like this one. The brothers decided that they would walk past each others job and pray over their workplaces. To my surprise that was about 29 km!! Almost a marathon distance. In disbelief I asked them 'do u really think you can finish in one night?' they said yes. They faithfully left at 9pm. We expected them to be back by 7am. But the first brother didn't show up until around 8:45am. He shared: 'We made it, but we had to run the last six kilometers.' then he added, the sisters came out to meet us around 6am to bring us warm food. When I reflected on that I was tremendously encouraged and upwards called.
After the walk you'd think they'd go to bed, but no, they cleaned up and went straight out to service. Service is always special. We usually meet in house churches and the service lasts several hours. The service begins reminding everyone that we meet every first day of the week just like the early Christians (Acts 20:7) and like Christians have done every week for the last two thousand years across the entire world.
The worship is heartfelt and powerful. The disciples have been ably trained to appreciate the worship of their God and their mutual encouragement. The faithful sing song after song. Maybe 10 or more. The last one before communion was a powerful song. And we were all so excited that after the end odd the song we sang it again! Our hearts were stirred.
The sermon began. A continuation of the series 'Letters to young Churches'. The focus of the class was 1 Cor 9. The expository preaching was deep and nurturing. But there was something towards the end that brought me to tears.
As 1 Cor. 9:19-23 was being studied, the brother who spoke, shared about the surrounding cities -- smaller and poorer. 'Do we look down on them?' Are we too good to take a step down to a smaller city, or do we only think about going to a richer city? They are challenging questions to all. And then...
The brother, a foreigner, shows a map of the region. Of the state. He begins to share the name and some details of several of the surrounding cities sounding as if he were a native of those places. He talked about how the infrastructure being developed there is a gift of God that will simplify the work of God. Perhaps, for some it may have sounded like nice facts but I couldn't help but to recognize that before me was a brother with a deep love and passion to evangelize that area of the world. He was setting an example for all of us. For me. That one day I would share the same love, passion, vision, and conviction to see a remote place of the earth saved.
He didn't stop there. He then laid out the vision and mission of this young church. They would get ready to send out their first church planting, hopefully, by the fall of next year! He said that this was not just a nice idea but that they would get ready to go out. I began to cry. What I was witnessing was God's mighty hand at work in this very unorthodox group. Just over 3 years ago, about six faithful foreigners gathered in a remote place and now God has multiplied the group to over 40 and continuing to add their group and blessing them in every way. Now they were about to set out to plant a new church by faith.
To my dear sister churches. May this piece of news uplift your soul. May it remind you that God is alive. May it state loudly that loving, committed, and wise discipleship, has been, is, and always will be the Father's plan; may it inspire young and old alike, to lift up the wings of faith and go out to do His work: to make disciples of all nations, to raise a new generation of leaders, and to bring hope and love to a hurting world. All of this was written with humility, to share God's work.
Just a day-and-a-half trip to see my bro and sis to get married. But, 'oh what a trip it was!' -- J.