Sunday, May 4, 2008

The church in action

A few weeks ago I was invited to share a Bible study at a local church. As a way to get to know some of the people I invited them to share some of their faith journey with me. One young man who stood up happened to be an acquaintance already—he works as house help for friends of ours. He told how a friend had shared Jesus with him about two years ago and invited him to church. Though faithful in attendance he said was still growing and felt young in his faith. His wife is not a Christian. This morning we visited the church and were shocked to hear the testimony he shared. This past Thursday evening, he was at home while his wife prepared supper and their infant daughter played on the floor. Their home was a sort of row housing with six mud brick homes attached, and each one having a kind of thatched “front porch” you could say. Suddenly a fire blazed through all the “porches” and swept right into his living room. He’d been saving up for months, and only two weeks ago had bought a new motor scooter. The scooter’s engine exploded and shot flames across the room virtually everything he owned was destroyed. (Our friend that he works for saw the scooter and said that the all that was left was the metal frame—even the dipstick for the oil reservoir had melted away into nothing.) This morning as he recounted the story, he said that he’d heard that the Bible says we should thank God for both the good things and the bad that come into our lives, and so he was thanking God because he and his family were still alive and amazingly their injuries were only minor. A part of me wanted to go over and “fix” everything, being the rich white person, but at the same time I knew that his church family needed to respond. Sometimes throwing money from a distance isn’t nearly so meaningful as watching the spiritual family that a person has been fellowshipping with kick into gear and be the church God created it to be.

Tonight we met with hi s “boss” at the English service. Bryan said he was impressed with the church because when he went over to visit this weekend one of the pastor’s showed up with his wife to mourn the loss and pray with him. Before the pastor left, he pulled an envelope out of his pocket and said, “This is from the church.” Bryan has found him a temporary place to live which is next to our old compound at the Bible school. Jennifer is thinking of visiting his wife with some material and taking her to meet one of the one of the Bible school student’s wives who is a seamstress.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance” James 1:2-3

Please pray for Pele and his young family.

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