…the word of the truth, the gospel …it is bearing fruit and increasing (Ephesians 1:5-6)
More than a year ago, when I planted the church that I am pastoring now, a friend of mine introduced his friend, Andy, to me. Since then Andy has been a part of this church. Looking back now I am amazed at the way God has been working in his life towards Christian maturity. I have personally witnessed his spiritual growth and it brings me great joy to see him grow in the grace of God. Let me share with you a few things about Andy, our church member, and a growing Christian.
Quite a while ago, Andy moved from a neighboring Telugu State to settle in a job. While working, he was visiting different churches as his friends led him, but he did not get settled in any. Though he confessed Christ and got baptized long ago, he was not that serious about the local church. Looking at his spiritual state, our common friend thought that I would be able to help him in his spiritual life. So, he brought Andy to me on day one of our church plant! It all began there. Over the next few months, I began to call him and meet with him regularly. Slowly he began to realize that I am truly caring for him and his soul. That moved him and he began to show interest in coming regularly. A lot of things began to change in his life. Observing my life for a while, he said, “the way you behave according to the Word of God (even in your young age), motivates me and encourages me more and more.” The presupposition behind it is that in India most people think religion is for old people!
Understanding the Word
In the early days, Andy saw that the sermons on Sundays are a bit different when compared to other places. Just like it took time for everybody in the church to get used to expository preaching, it took time for Andy as well. But once he got used to it, he started to understand the Bible according to its context. He was amazed at first, and he rejoiced greatly that he now understands the word. He said that he never saw this kind of teaching before, where the Bible is explained clearly from the pulpit. Andy began to develop a deep desire for the word and prayer since then. Every week I witnessed the joy in his face as he grasped the truths of the Scripture.
Growing in the Word
Andy not only started to understand the word, but he was immediately trying to apply it to his life. The clear understanding of the gospel gripped his heart. He took the word of God seriously and began to obey it. When his colleagues at work saw the changes in his life and behavior they asked him the reason for it. Without being shy, Andy took those opportunities to share the gospel truths with them.
However, when everything seems to be going well, things changed suddenly. Once while helping his sick roommate, Andy himself got very sick with Typhoid Fever. Knowing the ramifications of this, he immediately left for home, leaving his previous job. After some weeks, when he recovered from sickness and weakness, he returned and started looking for a job again. However, this time, due to COVID-19 and the lock-down, he could not find any. So, once again he went back home and is waiting for things to get better. He began to use this time to read the word and pray. This set aside devotional time has boosted his spiritual growth and turned out to be a blessing.
Sharing the Word
Though we are nearly 200 miles away from each other, we constantly kept in touch. For a while, with others too, we went through the book of Romans, passage by passage studying and discussing. It really turned out to be a wonderful time in the middle of the pandemic. Whatever Andy was experiencing by studying the word he wanted his family members to experience it too. So, he began to develop a deep burden for his extended family members and wanted to share the gospel with them.
The sad reality of our Telugu states is that we have many nominal Christians who think they are saved but do not even understand the gospel. The same is the case with many of our own family members here. Andy saw that situation in his own family and kept sharing with me about his burden to reach out to them. So, I encouraged him to follow David Helm’s One-to-one Bible reading strategy and start a Bible study with his family members. He pulled up some courage and started a Bible Study via Zoom.
Now, almost every day, nearly 8-10 people meet for an hour to study through the Gospel of John with him. They simply read a passage and try to understand it according to its context. Andy keeps reminding the people of the Gospel daily, and he has begun to see some fruit among his family members. Some, he says, became very serious about their faith. Now, people in his family are really looking up to him for spiritual guidance. Though he acknowledges that he has to grow a lot in the understanding of the Scriptures, yet he has been a blessing to them. It brings me great joy to see God’s work in him and through him.
Andy is definitely a servant-hearted person who truly desires people to come to the saving-knowledge of Christ. Over the last year, I have observed him personally and can testify that he has the passion to serve God, has the ability to understand the Bible and teach it to others, as he is able. He humbly acknowledges his inadequacy and seeks to learn more from the word of God. He is teachable. Andy is like the first fruit of our church plant! Please do pray for him, that the Lord would equip him and use him much more in the Gospel ministry here in India!