Its been about three months since the Tigak church grew a little in number as the conclusion of the chronological, evangelistic Bible teaching took place explaining the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the way of salvation through faith in Him.
After the dust settled on this exciting time, the new believers began being taught some important aspects of their new faith in Christ through the context of Old Testament stories. Shortly we will be heading back into the life of Christ. The purpose of this time of teaching is to encourage the new believers and to ground them in the truth of their security in Christ.
Just as we did during the evangelistic Bible teaching, we continue to meet with the believers throughout the week for encouragement, review, informal instruction and life on life application of what they are being taught. As we walk with the Lord in our personal lives, we hope that His life is being manifested through us towards the Tigak church.
This morning Beth was spending some time with one of our new Tigak sisters who is currently going through a very stressful personal hardship. Beth had shared that she had been praying for her and after asking her how she was doing the woman shared, “This is hard but I have placed this in God’s hands and I know that I can trust Him.” What a privilege and a joy to be able to be a part of seeing the peace of Christ minister to a woman who has only been a child of Christ for three months! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness to His child!
Seeing new believers come to know Christ out here has been an awesome experience. To hear their testimonies of faith in Him and see their clear understanding of the gospel play out in the way they are looking at life around them is incredible. Their lives have been eternally impacted by the finished work of Christ on the cross!
We are challenged in our own lives to hear our brothers and sisters say things like, “I hurt and feel so sorry for all my Tigak friends who do not know the truth. I hear the things they say and see what they are trying to do to make God happy and have a good life and I just see that they do not understand. Before I heard God’s message taught to me I just followed one lie after another, I did just what they are doing! They need to understand God’s word so they can know how to be made right with God. I am so sorry for them because they do not know.”
This is only the beginning, though! We are here for the long haul which we have had in mind since before we came. The Great Commission given by Christ to His disciples, says, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20a)
The scope of the Great Commission is discipleship. Conversion to Christ is just the beginning for these new believers! This is why the Apostle Paul worked hard towards the goal of seeing people brought up into maturity. In his letter to the Colossians he said, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.” (1:28-29)
When I think about our work out here among the Tigak, one thing that the Lord has really used to grow me practically in having the mind-set of a church planter is the concept of “faithfulness.” The apostle Paul said that, “It is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2) This makes sense since Christ Himself puts faithfulness forward as a key characteristic of servants in the parable of the talents. (Mt. 25:14-30) In this story, each servant had the potential to hear from their master, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” but not everyone did.
I have been asking myself, “What is faithfulness according to God’s standard? What does it look like for me to be faithful in my context, with the work He has given me?” Contrasting faithfulness with success, one of our former instructors in the word, Butch Bennet, has wisely said, “We cannot all be successful, but we can all be faithful. God’s standard of success is faithfulness.”
Right now, faithfulness in our work has includes caring for our Tigak brothers and sisters enough to really consider and act upon what we believe is best for their spiritual growth, even if it is hard. This means intentional involvement in their lives, thinking about how we can encourage them, challenge them and even confront them at times. It means identifying sin and destructive behaviors and bringing them to the light of Scriptures in love, not as judges standing over them, but as a brother and sister walking alongside them.
This is challenging for me because my natural tendency is relational passivity. Because I don’t like conflict and I think because of our home culture of blanket tolerance, going to someone in the wrong for the purpose of correction and restoration is really hard. However, if I really care for people and understand that from God’s perspective it is for their good, than faithfulness means going to them and addressing hard issues.
As we are obedient to what God has called us to do in speaking the truth in love for the building up of believers we have the amazing chance to see the power of God at work in individuals’ lives!
Recently, I had to come alongside one of my closest Tigak brothers because of some wrong attitudes and after the difficult conversation and giving him time to think, pray and consider the word, my friend had this to say. “Tom, I want to say thank you for helping me. You don’t have to feel like I will be upset… anytime you see something in my life that needs to be straightened, you can come and tell me because I know it is good for me in my life. I know that God wants me to grow and that this correction is from Him because He loves me. So I am happy that you correct me.” We are in awe of the power of the Holy Spirit in lives who are willing to submit to His authority! God wants nothing but the best for these children of His and by His grace the believers are seeing that and experiencing it!
In any case, we feel very privileged to be part of what God is doing out here among the Tigak. We are trusting Him for big things and seek to be faithful with the time we have here among them.
Please continue to pray for the Tigak church!