Yesterday was a special privilege for me. I and a group of other missionaries were able to join a group of 3-400 believers for church Sunday morning as several area churches met together! Many of these churches began as NTM tribal works. They’re now training others as Bible teachers, pastors, and church leaders. One of the announcements Sunday morning was about an outreach they are planning to a neighboring area where they feel led to take the Gospel! (This would be the second such outreach to this area, building relationships and a good presence as they do!) These same leaders are planning to re-open their Bible Training Center later this year or early next as they have seen a need for training among many pastors and Bible teachers around the area!
So this past Sunday, several churches came together to worship and be taught together. We probably had about 200 people inside the building, sitting packed in on the floor with us. Another 1-200 were outside sitting around the building and on the grass listening via loudspeaker. During a pause in the sermon, somebody started singing and soon all of them were singing! Have you ever heard the power of 200+ voices echoing off a tin roof and walls while being joined by another 1-200+ voices surrounding the building? It gave me such joy and chills to recognize the power and passion in their worship of our One True God!!!
The message was excellent and a challenge to me as he spoke on how God uses “heavies” (difficulties, hard times) to develop our faith. Though it was difficult to follow his constant switching between Tok Pisin and tok ples (language of his “place” or people group), we were able to get the majority of it. Using the story in Exodus 15 of the pait wara (bitter water) that God turned swit (sweet) by asking Moses to drop a diwai (tree) into it, the pastor stated that sometimes the “heavies” we go through turn the water of our hearts bitter. But God, through the death of His Son on a cross/tree can sweeten the water of our hearts. We are not alone in our “heavies”. His very Spirit lives in us, teaching us, comforting us, and making our joy complete! God uses these “heavies” to grow our faith and our joy! And by allowing God to sweeten the water of our hearts with joy and in persevering through the “heavies” in faith, we receive a reward of four crowns found in Scripture—the Crown of life, the Crown of righteousness, the Crown of glory, and the Crown of Salvation. (From what I understood, I believe those are the four!) Thus, “heavies” are not to be feared or dreaded but welcomed. They make our faith stronger and our joy greater! Wow! Quite a challenge, huh?