“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ…” (1 Corinthians 1:4)
Logging roads crisscross tropical jungle where there used to only be rivers for travel. Mountainous terrain still surrounds the headwater streams of the Manday River. Steamy days make the river-baths feel good. In fact, its the only way to cool off. By night, fog rises from these same rivers and streams. Nestled along the riverbanks are the villages of Da’an people. They have lived here for unknown generations. Over these centuries, life has changed little. Living in animism until Jesus and the Gospel were first introduced in the 1980’s, some Da’an in several villages believed in Christ. They were set free from lifelong bondage to animistic fears. The Da’an Church was born! It was a fledgling church; nevertheless, a body of believers beginning to follow Jesus.
No one could have predicted what would come next. It had been on the way long before the Gospel arrived. But in this generation the fast-paced acceleration of modern civilization and technology has ushered in major lifestyle changes. No longer exclusively agrarian, life now requires cash. Instead of life being focused on how to plant and harvest enough rice to feed one’s family (subsistence farming), a family must now find ways to make money to maintain these ever-changing and increasingly-costly lifestyle ‘upgrades’. Motorcycles have replaced canoes, cell phones are considered a necessity, higher education is sought after, electric generators and television are desirable. The list goes on and on.
All this has become a bit of a mixed-bag for the Da’an Church. Along with the benefit of modernization comes many challenges and sometimes evil consequences of the very things thought to help. Needless to say, this ever-changing, fast-paced technical expansion is there to stay.
In this context the Da’an church must find ways to thrive, to grow, and to move on to maturity in Christ. This can only take place by God’s grace. Last month, it was my privilege to visit Da’an believers in three villages. It is a joy to see firsthand the progress of the Gospel among them. At the same time, the challenges they face and the numerous obstacles are obvious.
At their request we studied what God’s Word has to say about ‘shepherding’. The precious hours spent in fellowship and discussion were encouraging, and we trust helpful, as these church leaders seek to carry on ministry that instructs and builds up, rebukes and corrects, as well as nurtures and guides local churches on the journey to maturity.
Thank you for praying for the Da’an believers and for God’s grace to continue its good work among them.