The Pal church is having its first real test. Since we taught them the message of the Bible in 2014, hundreds of people have professed faith in Jesus and have been baptized. Church attendance has been consistently good, and Bible studies have continued to happen weekly. There hasn’t been any large-scale persecution of believers; in fact, our Bible teachers are often consulted in community matters in the same way that their clan chiefs or “big men” are. Many believers are growing spiritually in ways that are visible — husbands loving their wives, parents disciplining their children, people studying and discussing their Bible books, women praying and singing while they work their gardens, and neighbors banding together to help out when someone has a need. Things looked pretty good.
I have always been a…. realistic person. Cynical? Maybe. For a long time I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. You see, there have always been plenty of people in Pal who exist on “the fringe” — not seeming to really commit to following God or showing any sign of producing fruit, but not completely abandoning church, either. We have been careful to try to practice what we preach and not judge another’s heart while still addressing words and actions that are unbiblical. But now we are dealing with outright, visible sin and idolatry. Men and women from the church invited and then participated in rituals to appease evil spirits. There comes a time when a line needs to be drawn in the sand, and this could be it.
My Jr. high Bible class recently discussed the most important decision that people need to make: to choose between God and not God. I tried to impress on them that there are only two options, and anything other than a choice for God is, by default, to choose not God. I challenged them to put some thought into it because no one can make the choice for them, and being taught Christian things by your parents and knowing all the answers in your Bible class does not necessarily make you a Christian.
I’ve also been thinking about the story of Moses drawing a line in the sand after the people showed their true colors and made themselves a golden calf to worship. Is it time for us to ask the Pal people to publicly pick a side? Or do we just continue to teach and correct and leave it to God to do the sorting?
Our family will spend the month of June in the bush, and then Chris will stay in there another two weeks or so on his own. We are expecting this to be a big topic for the church while we are there. Please pray for us to have wisdom as we listen and teach and advise, and pray that God would bless the faithful believers in Pal with discernment and a greater knowledge of Himself. Pray also for God’s Word to take root in people’s hearts so that troubles and worldly concerns don’t choke it out or otherwise kill it.
In other news, Micah is enjoying his first rugby season, Cole is making awesome things in shop class, and Maisie and Bailey just got to enjoy a middle school retreat with their friends. Chris is leaving on a short trip tomorrow to do some language evaluations for some new tribal missionaries, and I am trying to keep up with everybody else and also finish translating Matthew. Thanks for praying for us. We appreciate you!