A missionary report from Gaius in China.
July went by very quickly. This month of ministry has been both a pleasure and also painful. A great joy was seeing the brethren’s growth in the Word and their commitment to it. The pain came from seeing the church in W_____ suffering under increasingly heavy pressure from the government. The government is forcefully repressing some brethren, going so far in some cases that several brethren have been beaten so severely they had to go to the hospital. Seeing God’s saints suffering such hardships has weighed me down.
In July we had an addition of 2 more attendees, but we also lost one of the seekers who had been attending. She left because she thought we were too strict. She was born in a Christian home and grew up in church and so had a rich background in church life. When she first came to us she liked it a lot. But after a few months she felt our church was exhausting and wanted some space to relax. After I talked with her several times, she decided to come just when she has time and not all the time. So right now we have 12 people in regular attendance (including 1 seeker). The number of occasional attendees has grown to 9 (they come occasionally on Sundays). We are preparing to rent a meeting place as where we are meeting now is not great for our group. For one it is a little small. Second, the air conditioning system there doesn’t work well and with the hot weather, it’s quite stuffy there.
A major ministry in July was two “out of church” events on the 5th and 12th. The event on the 5th was directed towards all the brothers and sisters, even those who are not attending regularly. The event was meant to tighten everyone’s relationships by getting to know each other better. We especially wanted the irregular attendees to be able to integrate more into our body so we can have a community of love. The event on the 12th was focused on our regular attendees. We first had some outdoor activities and then went to a brother’s house and made and ate a meal. We then had a time of sharing and encouragement. The purpose of this event was to deepen everyone’s commitment to the group and further establish relationships.
To help the overall growth of the group we started doing two new things. The first is we started on a devotional reading schedule together. I am responsible for planning this. Everyone reads the same passages each day and we also memorize a few verses or a passage together. After trying this for four weeks we discussed how it was going. Overall their response was pretty good and they asked to continue doing it to the end of this year. This plan has helped some of the brethren develop a habit of devotions and Scripture memorization who had never done it before. It has deepened our understanding of the Bible.
The other thing we began to do was an early prayer time. Every morning between 6:00 and 6:30 all the brothers and sisters in their own homes rise to pray at the same time. We pray for W______’s current situation, for the growth of our group, and for the sick among us. Our purpose for this was to help everyone establish a habit of prayer and learn to exercise this discipline. This has been going for only two weeks, but we will continue to maintain such practices.
Our other activities have been the same as June. I preach three Sunday’s a month and we are still going through Mark. Sunday afternoons we still have a prayer meeting preceded by some sharing. Every Thursday evening I still am leading a study on the 1689 Confession of Faith. Also, at least once a week I carry out oversight of the brothers and sisters. I also visited several sick people. One of the brothers’ father is in the hospital, another brother’s father had severe accident, and another brother’s wife had a baby. I visited them to give comfort and exhortations. I continued discipleship with one of the brothers.
We are reading “The Gospel’s Power and Message” by Paul Washer and discussing it. I also am reading “Church Membership” by Jonathan Leeman. We are looking at starting a ladies meeting in the form of a small group. The group will be led by a sister from the group and will focus on sharing and study. This month I only counseled the brother with depression three times. He gave up on the counseling and returned to his original church. The premarital counseling has continued but is less often. I also preached three Saturdays in another church. Because of the unusual state W______ is in presently I was asked to go and give some encouragement to this group. This has been my ministry for this month.