I get a real kick sometimes when I try and visualize our home church in Michigan operating in the same way as church in the village does. Trying to combine the two distinctly different atmospheres always leaves me in inward stitches! I can just imagine for instance, people arriving and choosing to sit on the floor all the way up the aisle’s instead of in the chairs. Then I imagine kids, dogs, and chickens roaming freely through out the auditorium and making noises when they please and of course the central air is out so everyone is sweltering and keeping their eye out for flies and mosquitos. Then to my favorite imaginary picture of all. I cannot help but get a big grin imagining our Pastor picking his nose unashamedly and spitting on the floor when he pleases as he explains spiritual truth. Funny! Well, enough of talking about the differences between the US and here, this blog will actually be about a recent change that made something in common between the two!
For many years now the Tigak believers have been meeting outside for church. This has not been all bad. There has been plenty of room for people to spread out and flexibility to change locations for whatever reason. There were though, downsides as well to the whole meeting outside plan. Rain. Weather caused many problems considering we had no shelter to meet under. Because we live in the tropics and rain is a very common occurrence, there were some Sundays when down pours would keep us from meeting altogether- not so good.
As a missionary team we have prayed a lot about the need for a building to meet in and asked the Lord to convince the believers of the need for it as well and help them feel motivation to build one. It was not our heart to come down on them like we are the bosses and order them to make a church but rather to plant seeds of thought in their minds and try to gently guide them in the right direction. After all, we will not be here forever, they will. This church cannot be dependent upon us. It is and will be the Tigak believers job, as they rely on the Lord, to carry on this ministry for years to come and look out for the needs of the body.
We were also careful to help them understand that the practical need for a building does not mean that they need a building to be a church. As believers in Christ, they are the church, whether they meet under a roof or not.
In any case, God was faithful to use several things in the life of the little Tigak church to help them see the need for and get excited about the idea of building a “church building”, in the Tigak’s case that would be a traditional village style hut made from jungle materials just like all their houses. We continued to pray for them and offer our encouragement and help when possible. It took about three months from start to getting the roof on, but it happened! The Tigak church now has a roof over it’s head! 🙂 We are very encouraged by this little step of change and growth for the body here!
As the building was being built it was very exciting to see the church do exactly what God wants it to do- work together as one body. (I am not claiming that the work was totally dispersed evenly but it was a stretching and growing experience for the believers :D). It was great to see the ladies coming together to spend hours preparing the leaves for the roof and most people contributing in some way to the final product that we would all benefit from. Serving one another for the benefit of all. Even Tom got in on the nail pounding. 🙂
Since having our building to meet in, called the “Siva ina Kuvulai” = “Place to Meet”, it has been a blessing to see the excitement in the believers to have a place of our own. A place we can always use and care for together. It’s great to start in on these little steps of growth, learning how to serve one another in the body, sharing the responsibilities of caring for the building, weaving matts to sit on, keeping it swept and tidy and sometimes providing small snacks and drinks for the people attending evangelistic teaching on Sunday mornings.
The “Place to Meet” building is not done yet totally, partially because the two master minds behind it’s design are rethinking it’s size as they (and we) trust God for some new believers very soon who will be added to the church. It is thrilling to trust God together and to watch as He works in the lives of every believer to grow them. God is the builder of the church, the true church (not a building). He is the One who cares deeply, far more than we ever will, about bringing people to himself and graciously leading, loving and growing them as part of his holy family and bride! It is such a privilege be a small part in what He is doing!
Please PRAISE the Lord along with us for the new building we have to meet in and PRAY along with us for the Lord to use it to continue to grow the church in maturity in many ways.