Report From China
On January 1st we had our first church members retreat. We split the time into three parts. First was sharing a message. I spoke from Daniel 1 on “The Glory of Separationist” and sought to encourage the brethren to separate from the world, like the saints of old, and live holy lives. Second we did a simple report of all we did in 2015 to help the brethren see all the grace God has given to our church this year. We hoped to encourage them to look with hope towards 2016. The third part was a plan and budget for 2016. The main parts of our plans are focused on evangelism and discipleship. The budget will start to include covering my cost of living. Though the church still doesn’t give much towards this need, yet they are willing to give and to slowly work on increasing the amount. This encouraged me a lot.
This month there were 5 Lord’s Days, and because my co-worker was at the seminary studying, I preached for each of them. I shared 3 times on Philemon. I wanted them to see true friendship and relationships in Christ, and also that Christian relationships are an expression of discipleship. Then I started on Titus. When I got to the part about the qualifications and standards for elders I was again reminded of how clear the Bible is about what is required of elders. As regards character, gifts, and family there are clear expectations. I ask myself if I am disciplining myself to do all this according to Scripture. Are my wife and son truly submissive? Is my character and gifts continuing to grow? If I really am called to serve as an elder am I qualified or becoming more qualified according to the Bible? It made me again think through my calling.
On Thursday evening this month we continued studying “Do Not Fear Man”. When we were halfway through this series I met with some of the brethren in private and they shared with me that this study has addressed some of their heart problems. They didn’t to think that the fear of rejection, or that being passive was a sin previously. They thought this was part of their personality. After this study though they became aware of their own problems and the need to continually be renewed by the gospel.
One other thing that encouraged me this month was one of our sister’s mother started coming to church. The mother is not a Christian but her daughter for the past half year has been growing and changing and sharing the gospel with her mother, which led to her mother finally being willing to come to see what this faith is about. The mother said that we are very different than the church near her house. She thinks that we are very sincere about our faith. Also, she said that her daughter’s unwillingness to marry a nonbeliever surprised her. Who would turn down rich and prestigious suitors for their faith? I see that the effect the gospel is having on the lives of the brethren is drawing others around slowly to Christ.
God bless you,