A report from China missionary Gaius:
Hello! By the grace of Christ your brother in China sends September’s report to you. Praise God, this month has gone by quickly. My family and I greatly enjoyed God’s grace this month through the care the brothers and sisters have shown us. My son was sick early on this month and several brothers and sisters in the church continually asked about him with concern. This made me see God’s grace towards my family and also the love of the brethren for us.
This month I usually had devotions in the morning. My readings are the same as what I’ve planned for the brethren to read. Then I have some time for private prayer. After breakfast if there is nothing out of the ordinary to do, I will prepare my sermon notes, read spiritual books, do my homework for my seminary courses, and take care of other church affairs. Sometimes for lunch I will eat with some of the brethren, talk with them and give them some encouragement. In the afternoon after returning home, I will take care of church matters. This month we need to rent a place for meeting, so a lot of my focus has been this issue. I am very thankful I did not need to do the initial searching for places myself as some of the brothers volunteered to search and then took me to look at possible locations. This showed me their commitment, willingness to give of themselves, willingness to serve, and continual growth. In the evenings I will lead my wife and son in prayer together and I also am teaching my son the Shorter Catechism.
This month I preached on three Lord’s Days. One of these I preached on Mark 4:20-34. In preparing this text, I felt a lot of pressure and difficulty because there were so many parables to fit into one sermon clearly. I felt it was a tough job. But thank God, I was able to complete it with much effort.
This month I taught the Confession of Faith three Thursday evenings. One evening we were studying sanctification and I realized that some of the brothers and sisters who came to study were very unclear about this truth. They thought that righteousness was somehow infused into us, very much like the Catholic understanding of this doctrine. Thankfully, however, after this study, their understanding was corrected. Another Thursday evening was a time for sharing from a book being studied. Last month I had assigned Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to everyone to read. On the fourth Thursday of this month, we shared our thoughts on the book. To start the time off I explained the overall circumstances in the book, then everyone shared how they had benefited from their reading. Then we all discussed two questions: What is the spirit of martyrdom? How do we manifest this spirit of martyrdom in our present circumstances? The brothers and sisters interpreted a martyr’s spirit from a very broad perspective. They thought the essence of the martyr’s spirit is to lay down one’s self for Christ, including time, money, career, and life. In their own situations, they said they were willing for Christ’s sake to be patient, be taken advantage of, work hard, love God, and love others. This was showing a martyr’s spirit. This sharing touched me and encouraged me to continue in serving God and them.
This month, two new people joined our Thursday night meetings. One is a sister and one is a seeker. The seeker was born in a Christian family but doesn’t believe; she just has a good impression of religion. So after the meeting I shared the gospel with her. On the last week of the month she attended our Lord’s Day worship but left as soon as the service was over as she had other things to do.
Since the meeting has moved to this new location I have had some struggles. I’m seeing such a large meeting place with so few people in it. I’ve been feeling that my past eight months of service haven’t born much fruit, and so I’m sometimes downhearted. Also, because the progress has been so slow, I’ve felt some remorse, thinking that I still haven’t put enough energy into the ministry. So I really need God’s grace to support me to continue pressing on.
Lastly there is a wonderful testimony. There is an engaged young man among us who has been meeting with us from the very first time we met. However, he didn’t understand anything but just felt Christianity was different than other religions. He would have a lot of questions about life and faith. After meeting for over seven months, he shared some things in a prayer meeting that made me very thankful. He saw his younger sister had no faith. His sister lives abroad and also attends a church. This time she came back to China he had some time to talk with her. However, he found out that her values were the same as the world’s; he saw that she was chasing the things of the world which wasn’t at all like Christ. So he said his sister had no faith. When he first came he didn’t even know who Jesus was, but now he can distinguish real believers and can tell who is acting according to the Bible. This has been a big encouragement to me.