Immediately upon his conversion, Carey became an ardent student of the Scriptures. Eager to know exactly and fully what the Scriptures taught, he began an earnest study of the original languages of Scripture, Hebrew and Greek. His aptness and earnestness in discourse soon became known, and he was asked at various times and places to expound the Word. Having transferred his residence to Moulton, where he opened a school, he was asked by the small company of Baptists to be their pastor. The salary was about $50.00 a year. His chief support for his family came from his earnings as a cobbler and as a school teacher. Several years later (1789) he moved to Leicester, to serve as pastor of the Harvey Lane Baptist Church. He found the church in a state of disunion, dishonor and spiritual impotence, due largely to worldliness and resultant evils among the members. He prayed and preached most fervently, but conversions were impossible in such an atmosphere and the pastor was heartbroken. Eventually, in September of 1790, he determined upon a bold course of procedure — one that many churches in the twentieth century could doubtless follow to great advantage. He proposed that the church membership be dissolved, that a solemn covenant embodying New Testament faith, life and discipline be prepared, and that only those accepting this covenant be accepted as members of the newly-constituted church. This was done, the church was revived, worldly nettles gave place to the fruitage of the Spirit, and, in response to the preaching from the pulpit and witnessing in the homes, there were many blessed conversions. He led his own sisters, then his wife, and many others into the sublime experience of redemption. In his zeal for souls, he frequently made preaching trips to surrounding villages and laid the foundations of a number of churches.
DO NOT MIX
2 TIMOTHY 2:20-21
In a large house there are not only vessels of gold or silver, but also of wood and clay,
some for special purposes and some for common use.
If anyone cleanses himself from these (common vessels),
he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
DO NOT BE UNEQUALLY YOKED WITH UNBELIEVERS
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-17
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
What partnership can righteousness have with wickedness?
What fellowship does light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Satan?
What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God.
As God has said:
I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be My people.
Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.
THE CHURCH IS MADE JOYFUL BY THE INFLOWING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
THE CHURCH IS THOSE WHO HERE ON EARTH HAVE THEIR CONVERSATION IN HEAVEN
CHRISTIANS ARE CHILDREN BROUGHT FORTH THROUGH APOSTOLIC PREACHING
FAITH COMES BY HEARING AND HEARING THROUGH THE WORD OF CHRIST
ST BASIL TAUGHT THE CORPORATE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN PERFECTION IN HIS RULES
ST BASIL WROTE:
WHILE SOME OF THE GENTILES HAVE DECLARED THAT THE END IS THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE, OTHERS, PRACTICAL ACTIVITY, OTHERS, SOME PROFITABLE USE OF LIFE AND BODY, AND OTHERS SIMPLY PLEASURE, CHRISTIANITY TRANSCENDS THEM ALL BY PLACING MAN’S END IN THE BLESSED LIFE IN THE WORLD TO COME WHICH WILL CONSIST IN BEING RULED BY GOD. UP TO THIS TIME, NOTHING BETTER THAN LIFE UNDER THE RULE OF GOD HAS BEEN FOUND IN RATIONAL NATURE.
PERFECTION CONSISTS IN OBEYING THE LORD’S COMMANDS TO US AS HE REVEALS THEM TO US IN OUR MINDS:
I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.
1 CORINTHIANS 2:16
WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST
1 CORINTHIANS 2:10
EVEN THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD, GOD REVEALS TO US BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
ST BASIL WRITES:
We must strive after a quiet mind. As well might the eye ascertain an object put before it while it is wandering restless up and down and sideways, without fixing a steady gaze upon it, as a mind, distracted by a thousand worldly cares, be able clearly to apprehend the truth. He who is not yet yoked in the bonds of matrimony is harassed by frenzied cravings, and rebellious impulses, and hopeless attachments; he who has found his mate is encompassed with his own tumult of cares; if he is childless, there is desire for children; has he children? Anxiety about their education, attention to his wife, care of his house, oversight of his servants, misfortunes in trade, quarrels with his neighbors, lawsuits, the risks of the merchant, the toil of the farmer. Each day, as it comes, darkens the soul in its own way; and night after night takes up the day’s anxieties, and cheats the mind with illusions in accordance.
1 JOHN 3:21-22
IF WE OBEY THE LORD’S COMMANDS WE HAVE CONFIDENCE AND BOLDNESS
OUR HEART DOES NOT CONDEMN US
ANYTHING WE ASK OF GOD WE RECEIVE BECAUSE WE DO THE THINGS THAT ARE PLEASING TO HIM
1 JOHN 1:9
IF WE SIN WE CAN CONFESS OUR SINS AND THE LORD IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE US AND CLEANSE US
PERFECTION IS WALKING IN THE LIGHT OF OBEDIENCE TO WHAT WE KNOW HOLY SPIRIT IS SHOWING US
THAT IS CHRISTIAN PERFECTION
IT IS THE SAME FOR EVERY BELIEVER
JESUS TEACHES EVERY BELIEVER THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
1 JOHN 2:27
THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES ALL THINGS TO EVERY BELIEVER AND THEY DO NOT NEED ANYONE TO TEACH THEM BECAUSE THE ANOINTING, THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES THEM ALL THINGS
THAT IS THE BLESSED SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE
LIFE OF LOVE
LIFE OF FAITH
LIFE OF POWER
1 JOHN 5:2
By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and obey His commands
IN THE INTERROGATIONS 1-3 OF THE SMALL RULE AND THE LONGER QUESTIONS 1-7 IN THE GREATER RULE TWO QUESTIONS ARE INVOLVED:
1) SHOULD CHRISTIANS CONVERTED TO THE GOSPEL CONTINUE TO LIVE AMONG THOSE WHO HOLD IN CONTEMPT THE DIVINE COMMANDS AND IF NOT
2) SHOULD THEY LIVE BY THEMSELVES IN SOLITUDE OR SHOULD THEY COME TOGETHER WITH LIKE-MINDED BRETHREN AND FORM COMMUNITIES OF THEIR OWN
BASIL’S RULE UNDERSTANDS THE CHURCH AS A COMMUNITY OF BAPTIZED PEOPLE TRYING TO LIVE A PERFECT (TELEIOS IN SCRIPTURE, MATURE, SPIRITUAL) LIFE
BASIL INSISTS IT IS THE QUALITY RATHER THAN THE FORM OF CHRISTIAN LIFE THAT IS IMPORTANT
HE MAINTAINS THAT TO BE A PERFECT (MATURE/SPIRITUAL) CHRISTIAN IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO FOLLOW SOME MORE CONVENIENT RULES / COMMANDS OF CHRIST AND IGNORE THE REST
THIS IS TO PROTECT THE CHURCH’S DISTINCTIVENESS AND SACREDNESS WHICH CHARACTERIZED THE EARLY CHURCH
THE FOURTH CENTURY SAW CROWDS OF PEOPLE FLOCKING INTO THE CHURCH NOT FOR THE SAKE OF IMPROVING THE SPIRITUAL CHARACTER OF THEIR LIVES BUT OFTEN FOR THE CONVENIENCE OF BECOMING ELIGIBLE FOR PUBLIC OFFICES AND CAREERS. IN CAPADOCIA, MANY TRIED TO JOIN THE ASCETIC COMMUNITIES ONLY TO AVOID TAXES AND MILITARY SERVICE
WITH THIS INDISCRIMINATION, THE CHURCH’S EXISTENCE AS A SACRED COMMUNITY DISTINCT FROM EARTHLY SOCIETY WAS IN JEOPARDY
BASIL AS A PASTOR, FOLLOWING A SERVICE IN THE CHURCH, WOULD BE READY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS FROM THOSE WHO WERE WILLING TO INQUIRE FURTHER CONCERNING THAT WHICH BELONGS TO SOUND FAITH AND THE TRUE METHOD OF RIGHT CONDUCT ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BY MEANS OF WHICH THE MAN OF GOD IS PERFECTED.
IF THEY ARE SINCERELY DETERMINED TO CORRECT THEIR MORALS, TO TAKE UP THEIR CROSS AS TRUE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD AND TO DENY THEMSELVES COMPLETELY, HE ASKS THESE PEOPLE:
DO NOT MIX WITH THOSE WHO ARE SCORNFUL TO FOLLOWING AND OBEYING THE COMMANDS OF CHRIST
LIFE IN THE WORLD AMONG PEOPLE WHO DESPISE THE TEACHING OF CHRIST IS FULL OF OVERT AND HIDDEN DANGERS.
IN A LETTER WRITTEN FROM HIS PONTIC RETREAT WHERE BASIL RETIRED TO AMMEND HIS WAY OF LIFE LONG PERVERTED BY THE INTIMACY WITH WICKED PEOPLE, BASIL WRITES:
ONE WAY OF ESCAPING ALL THIS, THE CARES OF LIFE, IS SEPARATION FROM THE WHOLE WORLD. HOWEVER, SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD NOT THROUGH BODILY WITHDRAWAL FROM IT, BUT THROUGH SEVERANCE OF THE SOUL’S SYMPATHY WITH THE BODY, SO AS TO LIVE WITHOUT CITY, HOME, GOODS, SOCIETY, POSSESSIONS, MEANS OF LIFE, BUSINESS, CONVERSATIONS, HUMAN LEARNING, THAT THE HEART MAY READILY RECEIVE EVERY IMPRESSION OF DIVINE DOCTRINE.
FROM LETTER 2
BASIL WROTE, WE ARE ACCUSED BECAUSE WE KEEP MEN IN THE PRACTICE OF TRUE RELIGION WHO HAVE RENOUNCED THE WORLD AND ALL THE CARES OF THIS LIFE WHICH THE LORD LIKENS TO THORNS THAT DO NOT ALLOW THE WORD TO BRING FORTH FRUIT. MANY OF THIS KIND CARRY ABOUT IN THE BODY THE DEATH OF JESUS, THEY HAVE TAKEN UP THEIR OWN CROSS AND ARE FOLLOWERS OF GOD.
WOMEN ALSO HAVE CHOSEN TO LIVE THE GOSPEL LIFE, THEY HAVE CRUCIFIED THE FLESH WITH ITS AFFECTIONS AND LUSTS, THEY TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR FOOD OR CLOTHING, BUT REMAIN UNDISTURBED BESIDE THEIR LORD, CONTINUING NIGHT AND DAY IN PRAYER. THEIR LIPS SPEAK NOT OF THE DEEDS OF MEN, THEY SING HYMNS TO GOD CONTINUALLY, WORKING WITH THEIR OWN HANDS THAT THEY MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO DISTRIBUTE TO THEM THAT HAVE NEED.
FROM LETTER 207
BASIL IN HIS WRITINGS URGES ALL CHRISTIANS TO CONSECRATE THEIR POSSESSIONS TO THE CHURCHES PRESIDED OVER BY THE LOCAL BISHOPS IN ORDER THAT WHAT IS ABOVE NECESSITY MIGHT BE SHARED WITH THE POOR AND NEEDY. THE CONSECRATION OF PRIVATE POSSESSION TO THE LORD AND HIS CHURCH IS A COMITTMENT THAT IS DEMANDED OF EVERY CHRISTIAN.
THE CHURCH LEADERS ARE THE ONES ENTRUSTED WITH THE INSTRUCTION OF THE ASCETICS AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE GOODS TO THE POOR
ALL CHRISTIANS ARE TO SHOW UNCONDITIONAL OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST, SEEKING ALWAYS WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS.
When Sundar Singh was asked about the training of theological students, he said: There should be more practical work. The professors themselves should go about the country for two or three months with their students to preach the gospel.
The person-to-person contact in evangelism today is very much a missing dimension. This was very prominent in the ministry of Sundar Singh who made friendly contacts with various kinds of people including farmers in the fields, travellers in train compartments, sanyasis at Rishikesh and warders in Tibetan prison houses. He was accessible to them.
Sundar said, Preachers ought to get their message from God. If they get it from books instead, they do not preach their own gospel; they preach the gospel of others. They sit on other people’s eggs and hatch them and think they are their own.
We are tired of doctrines. We need the living Christ, people who will not only preach and teach, but workers whose whole life and temper is a revelation of Jesus Christ.
A few weeks before the Sadhu left Sabathu for Tibet on his final journey he spoke in a meeting at Okara on 12th March 1929, which was attended by several Hindus along with Christians in the area. Sundar Singh’s advice to a young Sadhu on that day was as follows: Read your Bible daily with prayer, do not flee from the Cross and do not become proud when some good people give you any honor. Remember the colt had the honor of walking on the garments which were spread by men in the way while Christ was entering Jerusalem and people were saying, Hosanna, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. The colt had this honor because Christ was seated on it.
In 1922 he made a proposal to the National Missionary Society (NMS) for starting missionary work on the border of Tibet. In 1924 the NMS of India had asked Sundar Singh to collaborate with them in the evangelization of Tibet. He agreed to train two workers every year who would go with him to preach the gospel in Tibet. In 1927 the NMS reported that some of its work was in Tibet and Himalayan States under the direction of Sadhu Sundar Singh.
The Sadhu in his last published book, With and Without Christ, gives interesting incidents taken from the life of Christians and non-Christians, which illustrate the difference in lives lived with Christ and without Christ. Sundar writes: The quickening work of the living Christ is not confined to our organized churches, but is going on among non-Christians far in excess of what is commonly known or of any estimate we can make.
The Sadhu had a burden for the places where the gospel had not reached. Tibet became his mission field. During his visits he set up small congregations in some places in Tibet and also started a school. He preached the gospel alike to the Lamas and the Hindu Sanyasis at Rishikesh, to philosophers such as Henri Bergson and Rabindranath Tagore and to villagers whom he met in corn fields or jungles and to the Christian congregations in various parts of the world. His was a characteristic personal approach through which he shared the joy and peace he received from his Master.
A report which appeared in Morning Star of Jaffna, Sri Lanka gives in nutshell the typical manner in which the Sadhu preached to mixed audience “Sundar Singh has also a message for non-Christians. He has not attacked their religion. He has not scolded nor used harsh terms of reproach, but has fearlessly testified to his own failure after long and painful search to find peace and joy and satisfaction apart from God’s great revelation Christ.
The mystical experiences of Sundar Singh include visions seen in the state of ecstasy. Although these were precious for him he did not glorify in them. Nor did he allude to them in his sermons but had only narrated some of them to his close friends. He felt an inner urge to put them in writing and was greatly relieved after publishing his visions of the Spiritual world in 1926. In the Preface Sadhu speaks about his first experience at Kotgarh, in his eyes were opened to heavenly vision. During the years that followed the visions have continued to enrich his life. He had them sometimes as often as eight or ten times in a month when his spiritual eyes were opened to see the glory of heavenly sphere and walk there with Jesus and hold conversations with angels and spirits. Several of them are recorded in his books. These experiences created in him a longing to enter in permanently to the bliss and fellowship of the redeemed.
The visions become meaningful only in the Christ centric character of the Sadhu’s mysticism. “Christ on his throne is always in the centre… The face of Christ seen by the Sadhu in ecstasy with his spiritual eyes is the same that he saw at his conversion with bodily eyes. The scars of Jesus are not ugly; but beautiful.” Sundar Singh felt that he understood more about God in a single moment of ecstasy than he could have had many years of study in a Theological College. Apart from his experience of “the communion of the Saints the Sadhu also learnt through them that ‘the Saints help in the work of saving souls in hell, because there can be no idleness in heaven.’ Those in hell will ultimately be brought to heaven…” Very few will be lost but many will he saved.
This universalism or hope in ultimate salvation perhaps remained as a concealed foundation of his evangelistic preaching in which he stressed the need for repentance and the certainty of immediate judgement.
Christ is my life. He is everything to me in heaven and earth. For the love of his Master he accepted the cross and called it the key of heaven. He wrote: Outwardly the cross may appear full of nails, but in its nature, it is sweet and peaceful.
Christ spoke to him in ecstasy that His crucifixion should not be viewed as an isolated incident in His life, which lasted only for a few hours, but as a continuous experience in His life on earth. Christ also taught him that he who accepts the cross and lives his life in his Lord, dies not once for all, but daily.
Service for him is unthinkable apart from suffering and sacrifice. He took delight in bearing the cross through physical suffering and mental agonies and learnt to be humble. The offers to accept the headship of training centre, which was to be started for Christian Sadhus, was politely turned down by the Sadhu. He was not interested in the post of the “Bishop of Indian Church” when the indigenous minded Christian community in Lahore offered the same to him. Sundar did not want to be addressed as “Sadhuji” by his friends. He would request them to call him “Little brother”. He compared the little honour he accepted at times to the honour received by the donkey, which had to walk on the cloaks spread on the road when the master rode on it. Sundar Singh refused to bless or baptize people including his father who accepted Christ during the last years of his life because Sundar felt himself unworthy for doing the same with the hands which tore the bible into pieces and burnt them; the blessing could be received only from the pierced hands of Jesus. There were occasions when the Sadhu’s humility was expressed with remarkable humour. When a friend brought a fine rug as a present to him, the Sadhu took the rug graciously and then asked the friend to accept it from him as a present. While in London, he wore a red raincoat on his saffron robe. When he stood in a street corner in thick fog he was mistaken for a post pillar by an old lady. She was taken aback when the pillar-box said: “Give me the letter, I will post it for you.”
Like his Master Sundar Singh lived for others. He engaged himself in the service of others in places like the leper Asylum in Sabathu. Evangelism, service and prayer were all important to him. When asked what he would do if he had a week all to himself, would he spend it in prayer or in active evangelism, Sundar replied: Can we drink only water or eat only food for a week? We require both drink and food.
Sundar Singh’s appearance and presence always reminded his audience of Jesus Christ. A friend of the Sadhu observed his face becoming radiant and like the face of Jesus, whenever he returned from his solitary meditation and prayer. A Hindu Saint at first sight of Sundar was able to see that Sundar has realised the bliss, which he was struggling after.
Prayer and meditation are described by Sadhu as the opening of our hearts to God when “the rays of the Sun of righteousness will heal the wounds of our sins and give us perfect health.” Speaking about his prayers the Sadhu says: “I use no words. I think only of those things that I have been reading, of the things I have been doing or intend to do, of the people I know, of myself and of Jesus-such thought is prayer, God speaks not man.
Sundar Singh organized his devotional life of prayer and meditation along the pattern set by Jesus. Prayer for him was the hidden root for the life lived in constant fellowship with Christ. He firmly believed that prayer could never alter the will of God. This he illustrates with a parable about the bird, which sits brooding over her eggs. As she continues to sit on them the change does not take place in the mother but in the eggs. So also through our prayer God is not changed but we are changed so as to know his plans for us.
In February 1913 he attempted a forty-day fast in a jungle near Rishikesh. When his strength was altogether gone after about two weeks, he was carried to Rishikesh railway station by woodcutters who were passing through the jungle. The experience of the fast brought to him a notable expansion of his spiritual life. From that time on his life was one of real and unbroken fellowship with his Lord.
Since the day of his conversion Sundar Singh endeavored to follow Christ and made every effort to imitate his master, particularly his life of prayer and meditation. He would spend long hours in solitude communion with God. He had a number of visions in which he would be seated at the feet of his master and converse with him. Great truths were revealed to him during these sessions of dialogue. While speaking about the intimate relationship with his master, he says that “He (Christ) opened his heart with the key of love. . . filled it with his presence.”
Sit at the Master’s feet in prayer – Sundar Singh
When we have really encountered the Master and experienced
release from sin, then sheer joy impels us to share it with
others. We cannot sit silent about what God has done;
we must give witness to it. Anyone who has experienced the
Master’s peace – whether man or woman, boy or girl, rich or
poor, laborer or farmer, writer or priest, judge or official,
doctor or lawyer, teacher or pupil, government official or
missionary– he or she is only a follower of the Master to
the extent that they witness to the truth. But bearing
witness does not necessarily mean preaching in the
market or from a pulpit. We have opportunities of
giving witness to the Master wherever we are. We can
do this through an upright life, a blameless character,
through integrity of behavior, by our enthusiasm, and by
our love for the Master, sharing with others what he has
done for us. Every person, not only with words but with
his life, can be a witness for the Master.
A Sufi mystic was on a journey. He had with him a
quantity of wheat. After being on the road for several
days he opened his bags and found a number of ants
in them. He sat down and pondered over their plight.
Being overcome with pity for the little lost creatures,
he retraced his steps and returned them safely to their
original home. It is amazing how we humans can show so much
sympathy to such little creatures. How then is it possible
to lack sympathy and fellow feeling in our dealing with
one another? Many have gone very far astray and do not
know the way back. Surely it is our duty to guide the
lost back to the way of righteousness and to help them
find their eternal home.
There are many people in India and around the
world who would like to hear about the Master. These
people need witnesses to the truth but not Western
culture. Indians desperately need the Water of Life,
but they do not want it in European vessels! The Master
chose simple fisherman as his followers because he
had a simple message, not a philosophy. The world
has enough of teaching and philosophy.
What homesickness I had in Europe! I felt
like a bird in a cage. The whole atmosphere was heavy
for me. Many people thought I suffered from the
cold climate, but this was not so. I have experienced
far greater cold in the Himalayas. It was not the physical
atmosphere that oppressed me, but the spiritual
In India, one feels everywhere – even through
idols and altars, pilgrims and penitents, temples and
tanks – that there is a desire for higher things. In the
West, however, everything points to armed force,
great power, and material things. It is this power of
evil that makes me so sad. India is more and more
seeking the Master’s truth. The West is in danger of
becoming more and more indifferent. And yet the
West owes so many of its blessings to Christianity. At
one time the ostrich could fly, but because the ostrich
stopped using its wings, it became unable to fly. So are
the people of Europe and America – they do not appreciate
the faith of their forebears and are fast losing it.
The West is like Judas Iscariot, who ate with Yesu,
only to later deny him. The West ought to fear the
fate of Judas, lest it hang itself on the tree of learning.
You have so many privileges. We in the East have to
give up many things when we become Christians. For
you, it is not so. Therefore be careful that you don’t
lose your only possibility for eternal happiness. I am
reminded of the hunter who was pursued by a tiger.
He had no fear because his hut was nearby and he was
sure that he had the key in his pocket. On reaching it,
however, the key was gone, and although there was
only the thickness of the door between him and
safety, he was lost.
Once when I was in the Himalayas, I was sitting
upon the bank of a river; I drew out of the water a
beautiful, hard, round stone and smashed it. The inside
was quite dry. The stone had been lying a long
time in the water, but the water had not penetrated the
stone. It is just like that with the “Christian” people of
the West. They have for centuries been surrounded by
Christianity, entirely steeped in its blessings, but the
Master’s truth has not penetrated them. Christianity is
not at fault; the reason lies rather in the hardness of
their hearts. Materialism and intellectualism have
made their hearts hard. So I am not surprised that
many people in the West do not understand what
Christianity really is.
Many modern thinkers in the West do not believe in
the miracles of our Master. To my mind, it’s already a
miracle that there are still spiritual people in the West
at all. In America, for example, one sees a good deal
of Christianity, but it does not address the spiritual
needs of the people. Just as salty seawater cannot
quench thirst, much of American religion cannot satisfy
a spiritually thirsty person because it is saturated
with materialism. The Master’s words, “Come unto
me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest,”
are true as regards the East, but I think that for
America, he would say, “Come unto me all who are
heavy gold-laden and I will give you rest.”
Looking at the motto “In God We Trust” on the
American dollar one might think the Americans are
very religious people, but the motto should read, “In the
dollar we trust.” Americans are seeking the almighty
dollar, not the Almighty God.
Although America is a “Christian” nation and there
are many sincere Christians in America, the majority
of the people there have no faith. There, where it is
so easy to have religion, where religion is offered on
every side and no one is persecuted for their beliefs,
life should be peaceful. Instead, there is a mad rush
and hustle and bustle after money and comfort and
pleasure. In India, many Christians suffer bitter
persecution but continue to find happiness in their
new faith. Because it is so easy to have faith in
America, people do not appreciate what a comfort
there is in faith.
A scientist had a bird in his hand. He wanted
to find out in what part of the bird’s body its life was
and what the life itself was. So he began dissecting the
bird. The result was that the very life of which he was
in search mysteriously vanished. Those who try to
understand the inner life merely intellectually will
meet with a similar failure. The life they are looking
for will only vanish.
When I returned from Europe, I began reading the
writings of the German mystic Jakob Boehme and
was attracted to him as soon as I had read the first two
or three pages. This simple, uneducated shoemaker
had an experience of God that has influenced millions
of people. I may be wrong, but I am more and more
convinced that simple people like Boehme have a pure
intuition and grasp easily and readily the Master’s
profound spiritual truths. Educated people, especially
those I met in the West, repress their native intuition
and substitute in its place a kind of artificial
rationalism. That is why the Master called simple fishermen
as his disciples.
I studied theology in a theological seminary. I
learned many useful and interesting things no doubt,
but they were not of much spiritual profit. There
were discussions about sects, about Yesu Christ and
many other interesting things, but I found the reality,
the spirit of all these things, only at the Master’s feet.
When I spent hours at his feet in prayer, then I found
enlightenment, and God taught me so many things that
I cannot express them even in my own language. Sit at
the Master’s feet in prayer; it is the greatest theological
college in this world. We know about theology, but he
is the source of theology itself. He explains in a few
seconds a truth that has taken years to understand.
Whatever I have learned has been learned only at his
feet. Not only learning, but life, I have found at his
feet in prayer.
I do not condemn theologians wholesale, but it is
unfortunately the fashion in Western thinking to
doubt and deny everything. I protest this tendency. I
never advise anyone to consult theologians, because
all too often they have completely lost all sense of
spiritual reality. They can explain Greek words and all
that, but they spend too much time among their books
and not enough time with the Master in prayer. It is
not that I oppose all education, but education without
life is certainly dangerous. You must stop examining
spiritual truths like dry bones! You must break open
the bones and take in the life-giving marrow.
When he was thirty-three in 1922 he wanted to die at that age like his master. Owing to hectic travels and crowded programmes continuously for sixteen years the Sadhu began to lose his health. He had heart attacks, trouble in eyesight, ulcers and several other complications, which compelled him to confine himself to his residence in Sabathu. Apart from his regular correspondence with friends all over the world, he was able to devote considerable time to write several thin volumes:
At the masters feet (1922)
Reality and religion (1923)
Search after Reality (1924)
Spiritual Life (1925)
Spiritual World (1926)
Real Life (1927)
With and Without Christ (1928)
In 1920 he visited Britain, America and Australia. His father who by this time had accepted Christ paid for his voyage. Sundar challenged the churches in the West to come out of their materialistic outlook. He made bold prophetic statements such as the following: Europe has failed to understand Christ. They have failed to understand His mind because they do not live with Him. There are many people nowadays in the churches in Christian lands who admire Christ and His teachings and have the privilege of being near the kingdom of God, but they will beat their breasts like the five foolish virgins, for they are near but not in the kingdom of God. It is observed that he was as fearless in his denunciation as he was tender in his pleading. Sundar Singh made a second trip to Europe in 1922. En route he visited the Holy Land and fulfilled his heart’s desire.
Between 1918-1919 he made visits to South India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Malaysia. Although Sundar was endowed with the gift of healing, he, like Paul, used it sparingly. He once prayed that the gift be withdrawn since he was aware of the pitfalls of popularity. When left for Tibet on his twelfth trip in 1919, he told his friends that he never expected to return. Sundar had the zeal to die as a martyr.
Sundar Singh was a born adventurer and had a burden to take the gospel to places like Tibet, which were closed for missionary activities. At the tender age of nineteen he was bold enough to venture into the land of the Lamas. Between 1908-1929 he is said to have made no less than twenty risky trips to that country. During 1914-1918 Sundar Singh experienced severe hardships, including imprisonment in a den with leeches and, using very painful torturing methods to stop him preaching.This he gladly accepted with the remark that it was very sweet to suffer for Christ. He wrote in his Urdu New Testament: Christ’s presence had turned my prison into a blessed heaven. What will it be like in heaven itself?
After visiting a few villages Sundar began his first winter tour and covered many parts of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, then proceeded further to Baluchistan and Afghanistan. Very soon Sundar Singh came to be known as the Apostle of the bleeding feet in several Parts of North India. During one of his visits to Europe he was asked whether the stones had cut his feet, Sundar replied that they were strong enough to cut the stones. Sundar carried with him only a blanket and an Urdu New Testament. Within two years he had covered almost the whole of North India. Meanwhile he spent a year (1909-10) in St. John’s Divinity School in Lahore. Although he was offered a license to preach in the Anglican Church, he did not want to confine his ministry to any particular denomination. He chose to continue his ministry as a wandering Sadhu and carry the message of Jesus Christ to all churches and also to people of other faiths. He was a frequent visitor to Rishikesh, where he made friends with a number of Hindu Sadhus with whom he shared the joy of his experience in following Jesus Christ, his guru.
Speaking about his Sadhu-life Sundar says: I am not worthy to follow in the footsteps of my Lord. But like him, I want no home, no possessions. Like him I will belong to the road; sharing the suffering of my people, eating and staying with those who will give me shelter, and telling all men of the love of God.
Sundar Singh received baptism on his sixteenth birthday (3.9.1905) at St. Thomas Church, Simla. For a month Sundar pondered over his future mission and on (October Sixth, 33 days after his baptism he left Sabathu in Simla hills clad with a saffron robe and a turban. The Sadhu ideal implanted in his heart by his mother got itself entwined with the mission of the wandering Christian Friar.
Having committed his life, Sundar chose the path of the cross and decided to bear the cross at all costs. This meant severe opposition from family circles and, leaving his father’s house who poisoned him when he had his last meal at his house, he thus chose to become a wandering preacher. He states this in one of his sermons as follows, I had to leave home and people, I lost everything, but I found everything in Christ. All through his ministry of twenty-four years he joyfully proclaimed that the cross would bear those who bear the cross. He wrote: To follow Christ and bear His cross is so sweet and precious that if I find no cross to bear in heaven I shall plead Him to send me as a missionary, if need be to hell.
Sundar Singh: The Lover of the Cross
JUST FOLLOWING JESUS (DECEMBER 10, 2017)
SEE HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKrkAIXipVk
GO OUT TO NEIGHBORHOODS
TALK WITH PEOPLE AND PRAY FOR PEOPLE AND SERVE PEOPLE
WE CAN ONLY PREACH CHRIST WHEN WE ARE FOLLOWING CHRIST IN THE CONDITIONS THAT CHRIST SAID: FOLLOW ME
THE CONDITIONS OF FOLLOWING JESUS REMAIN UNCHANGED
READ ST BASIL
LISTEN TO K.P.
READ D.L. MOODY
READ CHRISTIAN DEVOTEDNESS
READ WILLIAM AND CATHERINE BOOTH
SALVATION ARMY FOLLOWED THE LORD
POPULAR CHRISTIANITY: THE COWARDLY SERVICE VERSUS THE REAL WARFARE
TWO BY TWO
SUPPORT EACH OTHER
1 THESSALONIANS 1
SELF CONTROL IN EVERYTHING
2 TIMOTHY 2
WE COMMEND OURSELVES IN EVERY WAY
1 THESSALONIANS 2:4-6
WE ARE NOT TRYING TO PLEASE PEOPLE BUT GOD
WE WERE NOT LOOKING FOR PRAISE FROM PEOPLE, NOT FROM YOU OR ANYONE
THE BODY OF CHRIST MADE UP OF ALL THOSE WHO HEAR JESUS SAY FOLLOW ME
AND LEAVE EVERYTHING AND FOLLOW JESUS
READ ST. BASIL
FOLLOW ME, IS AN INVITATION TO EMBRACE THE LIFE OF JESUS
HAVE YOU HEARD JESUS CALLING YOU?
TO BE HIS?
TO FOLLOW HIM?
ONE OF THE SAD THINGS IS THAT OUR PULPITS, OUR TEACHERS, OFTEN HAVE BECOME HIERLINGS (A PERSON WHO WORKS FOR MATERIAL REWARD)
THEY SPEAK NOT AS SHEPHERDS
BUT AS ENTERTAINERS
HENCE THE SHEEP, INNOCENT SHEEP, HAVE LOST THEIR WAY
JESUS LAID DOWN THE RULES FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO FOLLOW HIM
THINK ABOUT THE SCRIPTURE, MATTHEW CHAPTER 16 VERSE 24
JESUS SAID, IF ANYONE, ANY MAN, ANY WOMAN WANT TO FOLLOW ME, THEY MUST DENY THEMSELF, PICK UP THEIR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST DEFINATELY MADE STRINGENT DEMANDS ON THOSE WHO WOULD BE HIS DISCIPLES, DEMANDS THAT OFTEN CHRISTIANS OVERLOOK, BUT THE WORD OF GOD REMAINS STILL INTACT, AND THE MEANING, STILL THE SAME
Athanasius (c. 328 – 373)
The persecution under which the Alexandrian Church suffered at this time and his intimacy with Antony had their effect upon his character and nurtured in him that undaunted fortitude and high spirit of faith by which he became distinguished.
Before the outbreak of the Arian controversy, which began in 319, Athanasius had made himself known as the author of two essays addressed to a convert from heathenism, one of them entitled Against the Gentiles, and the other On the Incarnation of the Word.
Athanasius’s two-part work of apologetics, Against the Heathen and The Incarnation of the Word of God, completed about 335, was the first great classic of developed Greek Orthodox theology. In Athanasius’s system, the Son of God, the eternal Word through whom God made the world, entered the world in human form to lead men back to the harmony from which they had fallen away. Athanasius reacted vigorously against Arianism, for which the Son was a lesser being, and welcomed the definition of the Son formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325: consubstantial with the Father.
Introduction: The purpose of the book a vindication of Christian doctrine, and especially of the Cross, against the scoffing objection of Gentiles. The effects of this doctrine its main vindication.
Athanasius’s other important works are The Letters on the divinity of the Holy Spirit and The Life of St. Antony, which was soon translated into Latin and did much to spread the ascetic ideal in East and West.
Several briefer treatises are preserved and a number of letters. Of special interest are the letter to Epictetus, bishop of Corinth and the letter to Dracontius, which urges a monk to leave the desert for the active labors of the episcopate.
Perhaps his most notable letter was his Festal Letter, written to his Church in Alexandria when he was in exile, as he could not be in their presence:
I know moreover that not only this thing saddens you, but also the fact that while others have obtained the churches by violence, you are meanwhile cast out from your places. For they hold the places, but you the Apostolic Faith. They are, it is true, in the places, but outside of the true Faith; while you are outside the places indeed, but the Faith, within you. Let us consider whether is the greater, the place or the Faith. Clearly the true Faith. Who then has lost more, or who possesses more? He who holds the place, or he who holds the Faith?
The first few years of the episcopate of Athanasius were tranquil; but the storms in which the remainder of his life was passed soon began to gather around him. The Council of Nicaea had settled the creed of Christendom, but had by no means composed the divisions in the church which the Arian controversy had provoked. Arius himself still lived, and his friend Eusebius of Nicomedia rapidly regained influence over the Emperor Constantine. The result of this was a demand made by the emperor that Arius should be re-admitted to communion. Athanasius stood firm, and refused to have any communion with the advocates of a “heresy that was fighting against Christ.” Constantine was baffled for the moment; but many accusers soon rose up against one who was known to be under the frown of imperial displeasure. The archbishop of Alexandria was charged with cruelty, even with sorcery and murder. It was reported that a Meletian bishop in the Thebaid, of the name of Arsenius, had been unlawfully put to death by him. He was easily able to clear himself of such charges, but the hatred of his enemies was not relaxed, and in the summer of 335 he was peremptorily ordered to appear at Tyre, where a council had been summoned to sit in judgment upon his conduct. He did not venture to disobey the imperial order, and a commission was appointed to inquire into an alleged instance of cruelty urged against him, notwithstanding the explanations which he had made. There appeared plainly a predetermination to condemn him, and he fled from Tyre to Constantinople to appeal to the emperor himself. “He resolved,” says Gibbon, “to make a bold and dangerous experiment, whether the throne was inaccessible to the voice of truth.” He presented himself suddenly with five of his suffragans before the emperor, while riding into his new capital. Refused at first a hearing, his perseverance was at length rewarded by the emperor’s consent to his reasonable request–that his accusers should be brought face to face with him in the imperial presence. The leaders of the Tyrian council, amongst the most conspicuous of whom were the two Eusebii, were accordingly summoned to Constantinople just after they had celebrated, at a great dedication festival at Jerusalem, the condemnation of Athanasius and the restoration of Arius to church communion. In confronting the former before Constantine they did not attempt to repeat the charge of cruelty, but found a more ready and effective weapon to their hands in a new charge of a political kind–that Athanasius had threatened to stop the Alexandrian corn-ships bound for Constantinople. Here, as in other matters, it is very difficult to understand how far there was any truth in the persistent accusations made against the prince-bishop of Alexandria. Probably there was in the very greatness of his character and the extent of his popular influence a certain species of dominance which lent a colour of truth to some of the things said against him. On the present occasion his accusers succeeded in at once arousing the imperial jealousy; and the consequence was, that, notwithstanding his earnest denial of the act attributed to him, he was banished to Trier, or Treves, the capital of Gaul.
This was the first banishment of Athanasius, which lasted about two years and a half. It was only brought to a close by the death of Constantine, and the accession of Constantine II. as emperor of the West. It is recorded by himself (Apol. 7) that, on his return to Alexandria, “the people ran in crowds to see his face; the churches were full of rejoicing; thanksgivings were offered up everywhere; the ministers and clergy thought the day the happiest in their lives.” But this period of happiness was destined to be short-lived. His position as patriarch of Alexandria placed him, not under his friend Constantine II., but under Constantius, another son of the elder Constantine, who had succeeded to the throne of the East. He in his turn fell, as his father had done, more and more under the influence of the Nicomedian Eusebius, now transferred to the see of Constantinople. A second expulsion of Athanasius was accordingly resolved upon. The old charges against him were revived, with the addition of his having set at naught the decision of a council. It was further resolved on this occasion to put another bishop in his place. Accordingly, in the beginning of the year 340, a Cappadocian named Gregory, said to be an Arian, was installed by military force on the throne of the great defender of the faith, who, to save his followers from outrage, withdrew to a place of concealment.
As soon as it was possible he repaired to Rome, to “lay his case before the church.” He was declared innocent at a council held there in 342, and in another held at Sardica some years later. Julius, the bishop of Rome, warmly espoused his cause, and, generally, it may be said that the Western Church was Athanasian in its sympathies and its creed, while the majority of the Eastern bishops sided with the Eusebian party. This severance was clearly shown at the Council of Sardica, where the Orientals refused to meet with the representation of the Western Church, because the latter insisted on recognising the right of Athanasius and his friends to attend the council as regular bishops.
Constantius continued for some time implacable, and the bold action of the Western bishops only incited the Arian party in Alexandria to fresh severities. Gradually, however, the excesses of the Arian party brought their own revenge, while the death of the intruded bishop Gregory, in the beginning of 345, opened up the way for a reconciliation betwixt the Eastern emporor and the banished prelate. The result was the restoration of Athanasius for the second time, amidst the enthusiastic demonstrations of the Alexandrian populace, which is represented by his panegyrist, Gregory Nazianzen, as streaming forth ” like another Nile ” to meet him in the distance as he approached the city.
For ten years at this time Athanasius held his ground in Alexandria. But the intrigues of the Arian or court party were soon renewed against him, and the feeble emperor, who had protested that he would never again listen to their accusations, was gradually stimulated to new hostilities. A large council was held at Milan in the spring of the year 356, and here, notwithstanding the vigorous opposition of a few faithful men amongst the Western bishops, a renewed condemnation of Athanasius was procured. This was followed up by the banishment of the faithful prelates, even of Hosius of Cordova, whose conciliatory character and intimate connection with the imperial family had not prevented him from addressing to Constantius a pathetic remonstrance against the tyranny of the Arian party. When his friends were thus scattered in exile, their great leader could not long escape; and on the night of the 8th of February 356, while he was engaged in service in the church of St Thomas, a band of armed men burst into the sacred building. He has himself described the scene (Apol. de fuga, 24). Here for a time he maintained his composure, and desired the deacon to read the psalm, and the people to respond–” For His mercy endureth for ever; ” and how, as the soldiers rushed forward with fierce shouts towards the altar, he at length made his escape in the crowd, and sought once more a place of safe retirement. The solitudes of Upper Egypt, where numerous monasteries and hermitages had been planted, appear to have been his chief shelter at this time. Here, protected from pursuit, he spent his time in literary labors in behalf of his cause; and to this period, accordingly, belong some of his most important writings, above all the great Orations or Discourses against the Arians, which furnish the best exposition of his theological position and principles.
For six years at this time Athanasius continued in exile, till the death of Constantius in November 361 opened once more the way for his return to his episcopate. Julian, the successor to the imperial throne, professed indifference to the contentions of the church, and granted permission to the bishops exiled in the late reign to return home. Amongst others, Athanasius took advantage of this permission, and seated himself once more upon his throne, amidst the jubilations of the people. He had begun his episcopal labours with renewed ardour, and summoned a council to Alexandria to decide various important questions, when an imperial mandate yet again drove him from his place of power. The faithful gathered around him weeping. ” Be of good heart,” he said, ” it is but a cloud it will soon pass.” His forecast proved true; for within a few months Julian had closed his brief career of Pagan revival, and Athanasius “returned by night to Alexandria.” He received a letter from the new emperor, Jovian, praising his Christian fidelity, and encouraging him to resume his work. With the emperor he continued to maintain friendly relations, and even drew out for him a synodal letter embodying the Nicene Creed, which was graciously received. During the brief reign of this bluff soldier-prince, comparative quiet prevailed in the church. But the repose was of short duration. In the spring of 365, after the accession of Valens, troubles reappeared. An order was issued for the expulsion of all bishops who had been expelled by Constantius, and Athanasius was once more forced to take refuge in concealment from his persecutors. His concealment, however, only lasted for four months, when an order came for his return; and from this time (Feb. 366) he was left undisturbed to pursue his episcopal labors.
Those labous were unceasing in refuting heretics, in building churches, in rebuking rapacious governors, in comforting faithful bishops, and in strengthening the orthodox everywhere, till at length, in the spring of 373, “in a good old age,” he ceased from all his work. Having consecrated one of his presbyters his successor, he died quietly in his own house. His “many struggles,” according to his panegyrists, won him “many a crown.” He was gathered to his fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, who had contended for the truth. Even those who fail to sympathize with the cause which Athanasius steadfastly maintained, cannot refuse their tribute of admiration to his magnanimous and heroic character. The cynic eloquence of Gibbon grows warm in recounting his adventurous career, and the language of Hooker breaks into stately fervor in celebrating his faith and fortitude. ” The whole world against Athanasius, and Athanasius against it; half a hundred of years spent in doubtful trial which of the two in the end should prevail –the side which had all, or else the part which had no friends but God and death–the one a defender of his innocency, the other a finisher of all his troubles.” If imperious in temper and inflexible in dogmatic determination, Athanasius had yet a great heart and intellect, enthusiastic in their devotion to Christ, and in work for the good of the church and of mankind.
His chief distinction as a theologian was his zealous advocacy of the essential divinity of Christ as co-equal in substance with the Father. This was the doctrine of the Homoousion, proclaimed by the Nicene Creed, and elaborately defended by his life and writings. Whether or not Athanasius first suggested the use of this expression, he was its greatest defender; and the catholic doctrine of the Trinity has ever since been more identified with his “immortal” name than with any other in the history of the church and of Christian theology.
Once in a while I return to the thoughts, Lord where is your power? And He always brings me back to the cross.
1 Corinthians 1:18
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
In order for me to have a relationship with Him, the cross was necessary. For me to have all that I want in life, family, relatives, love, friends, I need the cross.
Christian, believer, I think we have to remind ourselves from who and where do we get this power.
My sister called me and told me she was getting ready for divorce. I told her, both of you need to return to the cross. There is the power that will save your marriage. Not good feelings, the cross. There is the power that will save you. Save you from your sins. I need to turn away from myself. I need to turn away from my will to God’s will.
I reminded them of the promise they made in marriage, to be with each other through the trials. That is not possible without the cross. Because you have to be crucified. Crucified with Christ so that you can be united with His will.
I think there is nothing more amazing that the creation of a family and church. And I think the Holy Spirit always participates in that creation! The Holy Spirit always leads us to that cross, whatever relationship. whatever you may be doing, this you need to remember.
The world is too fast. Too many events. The need to think about many things. You do not realize how much you slip away from a person. You do not even realize how you slip away from relationship with God. How your heart hardens. Indifference. Doubts. Lack of trust. Resentment. No desire to deal with problems.
But I believe God sees it all. I believe His heart is with every one of those people whom He has called into intimate fellowship with Himself.
I come for prayer and in my room there hangs a clock. And it is ticking…It is bringing new. Powerful news. It is reminding the church, it is reminding me, that time is short.
We received the greatest news from God. He sent His Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish! but have eternal life!
He gives the best that He has. So that the person would turn away, turn away from himself, from life for himself, look at His Son, and discover himself, discover himself in that relationship. Because your life will change, it will change because it cannot be that this news would come to your life and it would not change anything. That does not happen.
That news comes with a purpose. Either you repent and accept God’s will, like a guidepost in your life, or you harden yourself and go towards destruction. There is no other road.
Thank God when those thoughts awaken us. Thank God that God wakens us, saying, Wake up! Wake up sleeper! And I think, what message can wake up the church today? What message wakens me? What message softens me? I find in Scripture the message. Jesus is returning.
Jesus Christ will return. All prophecies about His coming were fulfilled. To think differently that He will not return is no longer an option.
And it seems, you sit in the room and hear the clock. What do you find in yourself? What does the running time tell you? What do you think about? What desires do you find in yourself? And I think every one of us would find endless many things. Because this world in these days is endlessly wicked, endlessly deceiving, and to recognize wickedness is hard. Really hard.
That is why God has left us His word. When it turns dark that you can turn on the lights and look realistically at your future. Realistically at your life. The fact is that you will not understand everything. But the light will help you. Help you realize things that are dangerous in your life. Realize things that are good, things to practice, improve, use.
Speaking about that longing. Prayerful longing. If you are truly longing for His appearing. We see in the New Testament it is a central theme, theme of the apostles, who lived with that longing. You get a sense that they were waiting for him today. A sense that, if not today then look, look, look, He is returning.
I often ask myself a question, if Jesus return here and now, you are sitting in this church, you came to a meeting of the saints, and Jesus returns, what will He find in you? What is in your heart? To whom does your heart belong? To whom does your strength belong? To whom does all your motives belong? Where are they moving? And I believe, awakening a person, Jesus has something to say to us.
He knows where to lead us! Because He is the Shepherd. He is the Leader. He leads your heart. He leads you to the things that are important to Him!
I will read a few places in Scripture. This is Acts 1, about Jesus Christ’s leaving to heaven…
I can imagine it. You are standing watching such a miracle. I can’t even imagine it, sorry. I can’t even imagine it. I’m standing and watching such a miracle. I see that which I will never in my life be able to explain.
As they strained to see Him rising into heaven, two white-robed men stood among them. Men of Galilee, they said, why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday He will return from heaven in the same way you saw Him go.
I think longing is that true expression of love. When you are waiting. You find out how important that is to you. When you are sitting and waiting. Are you really waiting? Does your heart know this longing? Realized love.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on, the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day–and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing.
And I think when you are sitting in prayer and you examine yourself, Jesus, am I waiting for You? And sometimes that clock appears to be louder, when your worries shrink away and you hear His footsteps clearer and clearer.
I will read Matthew 25:13, So stay awake, because you do not know the day or the hour, when the Son of man comes.
His Master said to him, Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Enter into the joy of your Master.
And I think, Lord, You as our Master, what have You given us to do? We are your followers. What do you want to teach us? And I think He Himself is the answer. He came to this earth and He taught people the gospel. And so His purpose is that we, either by one or two or three or a hundred gathered, would bring the same news that He has passed on to us.
He doesn’t want us to be silent. Why do we stay silent? Because we don’ t believe.
Will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long to help them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?
To desire to give your life for Jesus, there is no more. Because there is no faith. Because there is no seeking Christ. No discipleship. There is no more. People don’t want to learn from Him! People don’t want to do what He did. They no longer want to!
We all want to receive and bring back to our homes and sit. That is what we want! And it feels good. And then we wonder why nothing is happening in my life? Why don’t I see God’s power? Why don’t I see people coming to repentance? Because you don’t do nothing. You received and you sit. I’m also in that danger. The better I live, the greater the chance I will close myself up at home. It feels so good. So much do I want to close myself up. And the better it is, the more you want to.
But if we look at who did the Holy Spirit come upon in Scripture, we see that there is something important to God on this earth. And that answer is so simple! So blessed! It works in all circumstances everywhere.
Turn away from yourself, see who has it worse, and do good to them. Turn away from yourself. For the gospel! For love for the person. And the Holy Spirit will lead you. You will see miracles. You will see people weeping. How amazing it is to feel the Holy Spirit working through you! When you feel your lips overflowing with the love of God! When you see His word restoring a family. When a prisoner becomes a preacher. How good is it to rejoice in these fruits. When an alcoholic who has been drinking for 30 years is raised to new life! And you are a part of that, a small little part.
But not a single person can do that alone. How good is it that we can meet together to remind ourselves of this. That we have been taken out of this world! We are no longer part of this world!
I will read some of Pete’s thoughts.
2 Peter 3:10-13
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. On that day the heavens will be set on fire, and the elements will melt away with intense heat. But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these things, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
The Scripture says before you start teaching others, examine yourself. Who are you? What controls you? What desires control you? 1 Timothy 4:!6 says, Pay close attention to yourself! and your teaching. As you do this, you will save both yourself and your hearers!
First is yourself. Are you living for yourself? Or are you controlled by the gospel?
Second is the family. The man must pay attention to his family. He must turn away from himself and be the priest of his family. The woman must turn away from herself and together with her husband learn to reflect the glory of God. But that requires the cross! That requires death. Death to self. Your desires, your lusts, your will. But having found this, do we forget about those who are perishing?
When things don’t work I have the opportunity to kneel before my Lord and ask Him to fix me by His Spirit. To strengthen me by His Spirit that my heart would walk in the right path. When things don’t work I can go to the brothers and say, brothers, pray for me, I’m finding it hard to stand in my choices I have made in my life for God.
When we come to be baptized, we also make a promise like in marriage. I give my promise in my life with Him. Often that promise is broken. But God has grace to restore me. That is why we can rejoice church. That is how important and needed we are to one another.
So in Christ, we who are many are one body, and each member belongs to one another.
If you look at the history of the Church, you will see, those who went ahead have their lives for Christ. All were killed for their faith. Today, the most you can expect is getting hit in the head. Maybe no one will kill you. But do you believe? Do you believe the word of the cross is the power to save every person who believes?
I pray for all of us including myself that each one of us would examine ourselves. Who do you belong to? Do you obey your will, or His will? Are you living for yourself or is the gospel in your heart? And you are united knowing that the Lord through His church is proclaiming the gospel.
I think about how there are so many available places. The city is so big. How big is Lithuania. Ask yourself a question, when was the last time you prayed that someone through your witness would come to repentance? When was the last time you prayed for a person when witnessing to them? When was the last time you called a sinner to repentance? When was the last time you joined yourself to God’s work for the gospel? When was the last time you hurried to help someone? When was the last time you repented before a loved one and Christ in your family?
These are questions. The answers are in you and in me.
Remember He is returning. Maybe today. Many people are perishing. Going to hell. We allow ourselves many sins, some we know, some we don’t. We simply allow them. But is this how it should be?
Thank you for listening. Let us pray. Let us pray the Holy Spirit will help us examine ourselves. Let us pray for this city, our country. If you believe He is the answer, this hall will always be full, you will always have people coming with you, you will not be able to keep quiet. You simply will not be able. You will see a person and you will take him along with you and say, I know the answer! Come with me! You will see how Jesus changes lives! You will see how Jesus answers prayer.
But take part. Fan into flame the fire of the Holy Spirit. Offer your body as a living and holy sacrifice. Offer your body in service to God. Sacrifice. Do not fear.
Our Dear Father, we thank You for Your Son Jesus, we thank You that You have declared through Him, the forgiveness of sins. That we can turn to Him at any moment and confess to You our wrongdoing and restore our lives. I thank You for the brothers and sisters, who can help me return to the way. I thank You for the Holy Spirit, who shows us our wrongdoings. May Your Holy name be blessed Lord. I believe you desire salvation for all of Lithuania. Every person. I believe this Father. That Your Son died for the sins of the whole world. That Your blood can raise to repentance the entire world Jesus. I believe this Jesus. I believe You chose us to carry Your message Lord, I pray this believing Lord. I pray that the Holy Spirit would distribute gifts, Jesus I ask You, I desire gifts, I long to see how the Holy Spirit works Lord, I long to see people coming to repentance, I long for repentance in my heart Lord. I long to see people healed Lord, freed, raised from the dead. I long to see this. And if it be Your will Lord, Please use us.
(Miesto Baznycia 2017-10-29)
Sanjushree can’t easily hide the fact that she once had leprosy. Her gnarled hands and toes display the effects of a 40-year battle with the disease. The 100-year-old woman remembers the day it began.
Sanjushree was 9 when she first noticed her fingers had started to curl inward. She didn’t understand why—neither did her parents or the doctors or the witch doctors they visited in search of the answer.
Years passed, and the young girl’s fingers didn’t straighten out. Embarrassed by her disfigurement, Sanjushree kept to herself, interacting only when necessary.
There were times when she traveled with the village midwife, watching and learning how to help pregnant women deliver their babies. But beyond that, she tried to separate herself from the community, afraid others might catch whatever it was that was crippling her fingers.
When Sanjushree was 22, she married and eventually had two daughters. Five years after her marriage, skin lesions appeared on Sanjushree’s body. That’s when she knew it was leprosy.
Her husband stood by her, continuing to love her; so did her children. There were some in her community who became fearful and cut off all contact with the young woman. But others didn’t let the stigma of leprosy interfere with their friendship, choosing instead to see Sanjushree as the kind woman who had once helped them deliver their children.
As Sanjushree’s body suffered with the lesions, her heart ached with the emotional pain the leprosy caused. She wasn’t sure what to do, but she was determined to continue on with her life. While her husband worked as a carpenter, she worked by making brooms and cane baskets, catching and selling fish, and farming. She didn’t let her gnarled fingers or the other symptoms of leprosy keep her from helping provide for her family.
One day, a carpenter friend told her about a nearby church that had a small hospital where people with all sorts of health problems were treated.
For the first time in years, Sanjushree found a reason to hope and began to believe she might actually find healing.
It was here where 30-year-old Sanjushree first heard about Jesus. Doctors treated her and then sent her to another small hospital that was connected to a church. As Sanjushree attended the church, she learned more and more about Jesus. She discovered He could heal people afflicted with leprosy—and a deep faith took root in her heart. She knew, without a doubt, Jesus could heal her, and she depended on it.
Throughout the following year, she grew in intimacy with the Lord as the pastor taught her from God’s Word. Even though she was illiterate and couldn’t read the Word herself, she engraved what she heard in her mind.
When her husband died a year later, her trust in Jesus sustained her.
Sanjushree continued to trust and wait on God to heal her for 20 more years. Finally, when she was 50 years old, she experienced the healing she had prayed and longed for! Filled with overflowing joy, Sanjushree decided she wanted to spend the rest of her life helping others who were suffering with sickness.
Able to understand their affliction and heartache like few others could, Sanjushree spent the next 50 years praying for those who were ill. She’d share with them about her own struggle with leprosy and about God’s miraculous healing and love in her life—and the Lord used her.
God freed people suffering from spiritual oppression or various sicknesses after Sanjushree prayed for them.
She eventually joined a church led by a GFA-supported pastor where the pastor and the Women’s Fellowship have been a source of encouragement and help to her. It was here, too, where she learned more about sharing the Good News with others.
“I was touched by [Sanjushree’s] love for the Lord,” says Julia, the regional Women’s Fellowship leader. “Our pastor . . . said that every week when she comes to church, she will bring at least one person to the church. That is her passion for the Lord! I am so amazed by the boldness she has. She doesn’t fear anyone. … When we asked [her] how she is able to do all these things, she replied, ‘I am like a lion. When Jesus is with me, why should I fear anything?'”
Through her boldness, God has used 100-year-old Sanjushree to show people His saving grace as she travels to different places, praying for people, helping with childbirth deliveries and proclaiming the excellencies of Him who healed her.
Tertullian (c. 155 – 240)
One of the most noteworthy personages belonging to the early Church. Born at Carthage (Tunisia) his father being a Roman centurion in the service of the proconsul of Africa. His natural endowments were great, and they were supplemented by a comprehensive course of studies whose fruit appears in the wealth of historical, legal, philosophical, physical, and antiquarian elements contained in his writings. He was destined for the civil service of the empire, and was accordingly trained in Roman jurisprudence and the art of forensic eloquence. His mode of argumentation and terminology everywhere reveal the legal turn of his mind, and his writings in many places throw light on disputed points of the Roman civil law.
Tertullian was converted to Christianity between thirty and forty years of age, and he immediately became its fearless champion against pagans, Jews, and heretics, especially Gnostics. He was the first religious teacher after the apostles who attained to a clear recognition of the mighty contrast between sin and grace, and who presented it in all it force to the mind of the Church. He was married but nevertheless entered the ranks of the clergy. Jerome, says that he was a presbyter of the Catholic Church, but his own writings do not determine whether he was a member prior to his transition into Montanism or not.
The transition to Montanism occurred a few years after Tertullian’s conversion, and about A.D. 202. The act doubtless had its origin in his eccentric disposition and rigorous moral views, which predisposed him to regard that heresy with favor and to dislike the Roman Church. Jerome attributes it to personal motives excited by the jealousy and envy of the Roman clergy, and modern writers have ascribed it to disappointed ambition. We know, however, that the penitential discipline of the Church was administered at Rome with exceeding laxity, and that such indifference was an abomination in the eyes of Tertullian.
Assuredly he did not regard Montanus as the Paraclete. He recognized in the latter simply an inspired organ of the Spirit. He, rather than Montanus, became the head of the Montanistic party in Africa, giving to their undefined views a theological character and a conceded influence over the life of the Church, and establishing it on foundations sufficiently firm to enable it to protract its being down to the 5th century. He died in old age, between A.D. 220 and 240. The assertion that he returned to the Catholic Church before he died is sometimes made, but cannot be substantiated, and the continued existence of the sect of Tertullianists would seem to contradict the assumption.
It is a significant fact that it was precisely this great defender of Catholic orthodoxy against Gnostic heresy who was a schismatic to such a degree that he has never been included by the Church of Rome among the number of her saints, or among that of the patres (Church Fathers).
As a writer, Tertullian was exceedingly fresh and vigorous, but also angular, abrupt, and impetuous. He possessed a lively imagination, a fund of wit and satire, as well as of acquired knowledge, and considerable depth and keenness; but he was deficient in point of logical clearness and self- possession, as well as of moderation, and of a thorough and harmonious culture. He was a speculative thinker, though the bitter opponent of philosophy. His aspiring mind sought in vain for adequate language in which to express itself, and struggled constantly to force the ideas of Christianity within the forms of the Latin tongue. His style thus became exceedingly forcible, nervous, vivid, concise, and pregnant.
His adversaries were assailed without mercy and with all the weapons of truth and of art, and nearly always appear in his writings in ridiculous plight. He was the direct opposite to Origen, holding the extreme position of realism on the borders of materialism. He was, furthermore, the pioneer of orthodox anthropology and soteriology, the teacher of Cyprian, and forerunner of Augustine, in the latter of whom his spirit was reproduced in twofold measure, though without its eccentricities and angularities. It is possible, also, to trace resemblances between him and Luther with respect to native vigor of mind, profound earnestness, unregulated passion, polemical relentlessness, etc.; but the father lacked the childlike amiability of the Reformer, who was both a lion and a lamb.
Tertullian’s writings are usually of brief extent, but they traverse nearly all fields of the religious life, and they constitute the most prolific source for the history of the Church and of doctrines in his time. No satisfactory classification of them can be executed, because but few of them afford the necessary data on which to base a scheme. The classification here presented rests upon the nature of the several writings as being either Catholic or Anti-Catholic, in which light the former are considerably more numerous than the latter.
(I.) Catholic Writings, or such as Defend Orthodox Christianity against Unbelievers and Heretics. — Most of these works date from the Montanist era of the author’s life.
1. Apologies against Pagans and Jews. — First of all, the Apologeticus, addressed to the Roman magistracy, A.D. 198 or 204, and forming one of the best rebuttals of the charges raised by the heathen of the time against Christianity. Similar in character are the Ad Nationes Libri II. In De Testimonio Animae the author develops an argument for the unity of God and the reality of a future state from the innate perceptions and feelings of the soul. In the work Ad Scapulam he remonstrates with the African governor of that name, who was bitterly persecuting the Christians. The Adversus Judmeos Liber draws from the Old-Testament prophets the proof that the Messiah has appeared in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Particular Gnostical doctrines are, assailed in De Baptismo, a defense of water-baptism against the Cainites and their peculiar theory of a mystical spiritual baptism: — De Anima, an inquiry into the nature, etc., of the soul: — De Carne Christi, a defense of the true humanity of Christ: — and De Resurrectione Carnis, a confutation of the heresy which denied the resurrection of the body. The tract Adversus Praxeam assails the Phrygian Antimontanist Praxeas, and confutes his patri-passionist errors in the interest of the orthodox view of the Trinity.
3. Ethical and Ascetical Writings. — This class is composed of works of small size, but of considerable value to the regulation of practical life and the administration of ecclesiastical discipline. The list includes, De Oratione, an exposition of the Lord’s Prayer and rules for prayer and fasting: — De Spectaculis, a warning against theatrical exhibitions: — De Idololatria: — Ad Uxorem Libri I., advice to his wife to govern her action in case she should outlive him: — De Paenitentia, a Catholic and Anti- montanistic presentation of the doctrine of repentance, dating from the earlier period of his Christian life: De Patientia, a commendation of the virtue of patience, accompanied with a lamentation because of his own lack of that virtue: — Ad Martyros, an exhortation addressed to the confessors who in the time of Septimius Severus awaited. in prison the martyr’s death.
The life of Tertullian has been written by: Neander (1825; 2d ed. 1849).
1 Corinthians 2:13-15
We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And this is what we speak, not in words taught to us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing / combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words / comparing spiritual things with spiritual things / explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? (Isaiah 40:13) But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Korintiečiams 2:12-15
Mes gavome ne pasaulio dvasią, bet Dvasią iš Dievo, kad suvoktume, kas mums Dievo dovanota. Apie tai ir kalbame ne žodžiais, kurių moko žmogiškoji išmintis, bet tais, kurių moko Šventoji Dvasia, – dvasinius dalykus gretindami su dvasiniais. Bet sielinis žmogus nepriima to, kas yra iš Dievo Dvasios, nes jam tai kvailystė; ir negali suprasti, nes tai dvasiškai vertinama. O dvasinis žmogus gali spręsti apie viską, bet niekas negali spręsti apie jį. „Kas gi suvokė Viešpaties mintį, kad galėtų Jį pamokyti?“ O mes turime Kristaus protą.
1 Corinthians 3:1-8
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
1 Korintiečiams 3:1-8
Aš, broliai, negalėjau kalbėti jums kaip dvasiniams, bet kaip kūniškiems, kaip kūdikiams Kristuje. Maitinau jus pienu, ne tvirtu maistu, kurio jūs negalėjote priimti. Net ir dabar negalite, nes tebesate kūniški. Jeigu tarp jūsų pavydas, nesantaika ir susiskaldymai, – argi nesate kūniški? Argi nesielgiate grynai žmogiškai? Kol vienas sako: „Aš – Pauliaus“, kitas: „Aš – Apolo“, – argi nesate kūniški? Kas yra Paulius? Kas yra Apolas? Tarnai, kurių dėka įtikėjote ir kurie tarnavo, kiek Viešpats kiekvienam skyrė. Aš sodinau, Apolas laistė, o Dievas augino. Todėl nieko nereiškia nei sodintojas, nei laistytojas, bet Dievas – augintojas. Kas sodina ir kas laisto, yra viena, ir kiekvienas gaus savąjį užmokestį pagal savo triūsą.
When unbelievers come to the church, they look at the church as if it’s all one: it is all Christian.
God says in the church there are various categories of people. Scripture says there are 1) spiritual 2) fleshly 3) infants.
There are those who are fleshly. They cannot understand what the Holy Spirit says. They do not have the Holy Spirit in their heart (mind). They have not yet been born. When they hear what the Holy Spirit is saying, they consider it foolishness. For them it is very hard to understand that Jesus died on the cross. They are so proud that they do not accept the gift of salvation. They trust in their own strength and righteousness. They say, I will build my life. Tomorrow is up to me. There is no room for God in their lives. And they do good works to be accepted by God. Holy Spirit tells us in the Bible that God has given us salvation as a gift. We need to receive it.
The second category of people are infants. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3, I was unable to speak to you with solid food, because you are still infants. I remember when I was an infant. I remember when I first believed, I began to understand God. Like a sponge I began to drink up everything, all teaching, whatever anyone said, I accepted it all. It did not matter to me where the teaching was coming from, from who, for me it was only important that it’s about Christ. I loved to read the Bible. I loved to listen to sermons. I had the desire to give my life to the Lord completely. I was ready to serve the Lord completely. I was ready to do everything. It is that time when you first come to know the Lord and His love and God begins to answer your prayers. I asked for everything and God showed me everything. God was caring for me like a little child. Because I was a little spiritual child! God answered all my prayers. I loved God. Holy Spirit was in me. But unfortunately not many people wanted to be friends with me! Because my character was still the same as it was before! It had not yet been changed. I was a Christian but at the same time the old nature was still there. The old character, the sinful tendencies. And often I would have to repent so that I would change.
There are also spiritual people, those who have the mind of Christ. They are able to appraise all things. But no one is able to appraise them. Why are others not able to appraise them? It is because they resemble Christ. The spiritual person thinks like Jesus, acts like Jesus, even their motives are like Jesus. It is often difficult to understand them because of their behaviour! Sometimes it is difficult to appraise others by their behaviour. All of us come to church. All of us serve in some kind of ministry. But what kind of motive lies behind it? Who is leading us? How are we living? In 1 Corinthians 1:2 Paul writes that we are called to be holy people. In another place Paul writes that God has chosen us that we would be transformed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3). This is a spiritual person. This is the person in whom lives the Lord Jesus Christ. And people see in him/her the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a fourth category, the carnal person. The carnal person is also a Christian. Scripture says he has the Holy Spirit. He has been born of God. He was an infant. But he has remained that way. In Uzbekistan there is a church that runs an orphanage. Our church would visit the orphanage to share the good news. There was a man there who was 40 years old. His head was that of a man who is 40 years old. His hands and body and feet were like that of a child. Imagine. Head like 40 year-old, but body like a child. And the sisters and others would feed him. He could speak. He listened to the teaching. But it so happened that his head grew but his body didn’t. The carnal person is similar to this person. He came to God. Grows older, but spiritually he does not grow! When other people meet these carnal people they may say, if Christianity is like this, I do not want to be like that. If a spiritual person, a person with the Holy Spirit is like that, then I don’t want to be a Christian. Sometimes we do not see our own growth. But to others it is visible. How fearful it is to be in the church for 20 years and have these various inconsistencies. To come to Christ and be full of joy like a child, to enjoy being fed, but not to grow to maturity (Matthew 5:48, Matthew 19:21, 1 Corinthians 2:6, 1 Corinthians 14:20, Ephesians 4:13, Philippians 3:15, Colossians 1:28, Colossians 4:12, Hebrews 5:14, James 1:4)
1 Corinthians 11:29-31
For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weakand sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. Now if we judged ourselves properly, we would not come under judgment.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (Deut. 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7)
A fire burned inside Myo Zaw. It was lit the day the Lord redeemed him, and it grew hotter and more intense every single day. He was like the prophet Jeremiah, unable to keep the love of Christ hidden within himself. If he tried, he felt restless, he felt sick.
Weary of holding it in, Myo Zaw shouted from the roadsides and in market places, “Christ [redeemed] me, and He will [redeem] you also!”
People thought he had gone mad. Those in his community already knew him as a hot-blooded drunkard who fought with people and beat his wife and children, and now he proved his insanity.
“But I knew I was not mad,” Myo Zaw says. “The love of God just would not simply keep [quiet] in my heart. I wanted to pour it out and share it.”
Consumed by a fire that could not be put out, Myo Zaw traveled throughout his region, walking from place to place, sharing the Word of God. He told people “how a sinner like me was found by God.” In three years, he visited 100 communities. His wife, Shway, sent him letters while he was away to encourage him.
“If your life can change by Christ, there is no one who cannot be changed by Christ,” she’d say. “So wherever you are going and sharing the Word of God, we are here to pray for you. I believe people will be changed by the love of Christ.”
And people were—350 of them. They heard of His great love and saw it lived out in His child, and it changed them.
Following Like Jesus
Not long after, a man visited Myo Zaw’s village and shared about the different places in their country and how Jesus went to a foreign land, though heaven was His home.
The fire inside Myo Zaw intensified. He knew without any doubt that his life needed to be about sharing the Lord’s love with others. It was a powerful love that transformed him, and he knew others needed it, too.
He told himself, “It is better that I go and give my life for the people in foreign lands.” So he and his wife prayed and prepared themselves to live in an area where people were unfamiliar with the Lamb of God.
Nearly 10 years later, God sent them to the southern region of their country as GFA-supported missionaries.
Forced Out of Community
In their new community, people quickly realized Myo Zaw and his family were Christians and decided they would have nothing to do with the new arrivals.
“We were [forced] out of community,” Pastor Myo Zaw says, “and it is very difficult to live without community.”
People threw stones at Myo Zaw’s home and threatened to penalize others if they spoke to the Christians. Even Myo Zaw’s young children faced discrimination at school because of their faith.
“Sometimes, when we would go to the market,” Pastor Myo Zaw recalls, “they’d look at us as if we were enemies. All these things we faced, but the Lord showed His grace upon us through which we are still OK now.”
Turning of Hearts
Myo Zaw, Shway and their children trusted Christ throughout the hardships, and with the Spirit’s fiery love pulsating within them, they learned how to love the people in their new community.
The pastor started with film ministry, showing people movies they enjoyed and also the film of Jesus’ life. The local children felt Myo Zaw’s and his wife’s warmth and began visiting them. Myo Zaw and Shway would give the young boys and girls treats, teach them songs and bathe the ones that came looking haggard.
The community watched how they cared for their children and wondered why this man and his wife loved them so much. Soon, people talked to them at the market, and Pastor Myo Zaw and Shway were able to reveal Christ’s love to them.
They cared for the sick and took people to the hospital when needed. When floodwaters destroyed homes and livelihoods, they and other GFA-supported workers helped provide relief. Pastor Myo Zaw frequently visited people to encourage them and offer words of life and hope in Christ Jesus. And people visited him as well.
God’s Most Powerful Weapon
The fire God kindled within Myo Zaw on the first day of his redemption continues to burn brighter and hotter as the years pass.
“My love has become deeper for them. I care for them more,” he says of the people who are now his friends. “That’s why I don’t want to go back to my hometown. That is why I would like to sacrifice my whole life for them.”
After 14 years of displaying Christ’s love, people feel and understand Myo Zaw’s love for them and many return it. They’ve come to know that “everything I do is for them,” he says. And he does it because of Christ.
“What I have found in my life,” Myo Zaw says, “is that love is the most powerful weapon we have from God.”
The Galilee Boat
The river was busy. It was always busy during high tide. Boatmen competed with each other to ferry people and belongings from the market to villages and back. Some boats were so weighed down that the tops were only a few inches from the water’s surface.
This was the way of life for people living near the shores, where channels of water sliced through the ground and boats helped people get around from village to village.
But the Galilee Boat was different. It was just Pastor Myo Zaw and his disciple, Nyein Shein, on this boat. They traversed through the river together. Myo Zaw stood toward the front of the boat, a handwoven bag slung across his chest and packets of information about true hope in his left hand. Nyein Shein was at the stern, bending this way and that as he navigated the vessel through the murky waters, careful not to collide into other boats.
For Pastor Myo Zaw and Nyein Shein, traveling through the waters was less about getting around and more about meeting people.
“Galilee Boat is like a second life for us, which is very important for our [ministry],” Myo Zaw said.
The boat was a means to minister. It created opportunities for Pastor Myo Zaw to talk with fishermen or the men waiting to ferry people from the market. He’d also go to villages that could only be visited by boat.
Through the Galilee Boat, people who had never heard about the redemptive love of Christ could finally witness it. They’d see it in the life of the man who traveled in the boat just to see them, and they’d hear it in his voice when he’d speak words of life found in the Word of God. And something would happen inside their hearts. They believed that still, small voice that whispered to them, “I am the living God.”
Three fellowships and 16 other smaller fellowships grew in villages that Pastor Myo Zaw visited via the Galilee Boat.
The boat has become “famous,” Myo Zaw said. But not because it’s constantly traveling through the channels of water, looking to meet new people. It’s become famous because of the timely help it’s provided.
The region where Pastor Myo Zaw and Nyein Shein serve is known to flood during monsoon seasons. When it does, they use the Galilee Boat to bring relief supplies, like food and medicine, to stranded villagers and to rescue people by transferring them to safer regions.
“I believe God gave me this boat to help the community in the times of difficulties,” Myo Zaw said.
And that’s where you’ll find him and Nyein Shein, out on the Galilee Boat, navigating the busy river to help people in their community.