This morning I had the privilege of preaching at the first Sunday service of a new church plant. A team of pastors have been hard at work going door to door, sharing the Gospel for the last couple days and informing people of the churches opening.
The area is an old cattle farm that is now defunct. The people are squatters since nobody really seems to know who owns the land. Honestly, when you drive through the area, the place seems largely uninhabited, but as you look around, you can pick out an increasing number of huts scattered around. It is the perfect place to plant a church, but probably the last place that many would want to be.
I love this about the men that I get to work with. They do not seek out the most popular or glamorous places to plant a new church. They go where the need is. So after half a dozen people spent 2 days (not counting the months of planning and praying before hand) moving through the villages sharing God’s Word and inviting people to church, it was time to launch.
To be honest, I wouldn’t have faulted any of the men or women,I who were there from other churches to help with the launch, if they felt disappointed. We had a good turnout, but it was 100% children and 100% of those children were in the school choir which led part of the worship.
The pastor in charge wasn’t fazed one bit. People tend to take a wait and see approach. The important thing for people in the area to see was that we have started and are committed to being a part of the community. It was a great service, but I was still hoping for more.
After church, we drove a short distance to the nearest center to eat lunch together. One of the ladies there, when she found out we were a group of pastors and church leaders, asked the most interesting question, “If an animal has died of natural causes, can you still eat it?”
Now the average American would start thinking in scientific terms. What did the animal die from? Maybe it has a disease. Is the meat fresh or starting to rot? But this was not a scientific question; it was a spiritual one. She wanted to know what the Bible said on the matter.
An interesting conversation ensued. One of the men read a passage of Scripture. I’ve never even thought about the Bible giving guidance on such a topic. The conversation slowly shifted to a discussion on the law vs grace.
You see the lady wasn’t looking for an answer, she was testing to see where we stood. She was saved in a baptist church in another part of the country. Since then, her family and 3 others had relocated to this area. They tried out a local church, but when the pastor preached that they were still subject to the law, she saw that the message was very different from how she was brought up.
The 4 families were churchless and confused by the unusual preaching, that left them feeling in bondage to the law instead of free in Jesus. She was overjoyed to have finally met someone who shares the same faith as her, and one of the pastors has arranged to meet all the families this week to encourage them.
God works in such incredible ways. It was possible to feel disappointed with the turnout of the scheduled service, but our ministry didn’t end with the closing prayer. The Lord had opened the door for 4 lost and desperate families to find a new church home.
This post is for those 4 families who held strong to their faith, even when they struggled to find a new church home, and even when they were being taught with false doctrine.