MOBILIZING MISSIONARIES FOR PIONEER CHURCH PLANTING
Earlier this year as I was in prayer asking what to do about a false apostle who had come to hinder our work on a certain island, Jesus anchored my soul to a verse in Jeremiah that has held me steady in the midst of this tumultuous season:
“The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream;
And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.
What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the LORD.
“Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD,
“And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
Last week in Kamesse, Buvu Island for our regional island event, we chose a good spot at the center of the little village that was already occupied by a local shoe salesman. We politely took over his area while giving him room to sell his shoes just behind our makeshift pulpit. In these open-air meetings, people typically gather all around the stage area and having people behind our speakers usually isn’t a problem. This night the shoe salesman was the problem. He is a believer in “Jesus Only” a unitarian cult that has a smattering of followers throughout our islands and holds strictly to some of the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament while denying the three-fold nature of God. Since he didn’t have a microphone his lively gush of false doctrine (“chaff”) was confined to a small group of people on and behind a bench near his shoe shop and a couple of my team who had gone to engage him in conversation.
Towards the end of Pastor John’s message (that spoke directly to false religions in the area), a nominal Catholic man walked up to my friend Solomon and I, decidedly removed his rosary and handed it to Solomon stating emphatically, “I’m getting saved.” He then walked back to his place on the bench in front of the still contradicting shoe seller of Jesus Only. Moments later when Pastor John gave an invitation for people to come to Jesus this man was the first to boldly walk to the front to be prayed for and publicly declare his faith in Jesus. The next day he was in our church service, eagerly receiving more “wheat” from the word of God.
Two days later we were in the village of Lujjaabwa where we’ve planted a new church just two months ago. In this fishing community the villagers cannot figure out the unconditional love of God. Because they have come from other places to seek money in fishing and personal pleasure in sin they have no context for people who give sacrificially with no strings attached. With lots of time on their hands and plenty of people to chatter with, the gossip about our fledgling church is widespread. I’ve heard all kinds of wild ideas of the reasons why we would want to build a church in this village since they just can’t believe anyone would give and love and bless without any expectation of return.
On Saturday we had a meeting of all the core members of the church. Everyone went around the circle and shared his/her testimony, and the stories of transformation from the past two months made me cry with joy. One young man sat down in our circle and listened attentively to the testimonies, to my vision casting, and witnessed some great authentic fellowship as we shared and laughed with each other. As we finished the meeting, we asked him to introduce himself and after saying his name he explained, “I’m a catholic. I’ve heard all the rumors about you guys coming to take over the island so I came to see for myself. Now that I know the truth I want to be saved and join you guys!” We all rejoiced and prayed with our new brother and I was once again reminded of the power of the living word of God to convict – it’s the truth that sets people free!
More and more I don’t mind when people say all kinds of evil against us falsely. Many times the slander, false teaching, and misrepresentation only serve as springboards to propel people towards the truth while revealing the evil in our enemies’ hearts. Since there is no rival against the Word of God, we will faithfully feed the people He brings our way believing for fire to consume chaff and hardened hearts to be broken before our merciful Savior.