I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. -Jesus
I do my share of bemoaning the current state of the world. It does seem like our culture is walking, nay, running away from God. My brother in law, who has spent years studying, loving and teaching the Bible, has encouraged me to look at things a little differently. “Well”, he said to me, in his down to earth, calm, confident in Jesus way, “God did say, ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ That doesn’t mean we are going to see it all happen here in America.” The world is, after all, a big place!
It turns out he has a really good point. My husband and I have been helping out for a short time in the small south pacific country we raised our kids in. How much encouragement can God pack into three months? (Spoiler alert- a lot!)
1) In one province here, in the next five weeks there will be four Bible translation dedications. The people of these language groups are happy, delighted, excited and thankful. This is not just another bible translation to put on the shelf. It will be well read, taught and used!
2) A month ago we visited a village up the Guam River. We shared meals with different families each evening and afterward they storied about God’s work in their lives. Freedom from fear, joyous appreciation of the grace of God and the very real anticipation of heaven were what they talked about.
‘By His grace, by his grace, by his grace, we heard God’s talk.’
‘Life or death or anything else cannot separatim yumi from Christ. Nogat!’
‘You can look for your fame and riches down here; I’m holding out for heaven and Jesus.’
‘Suppose you die in America or England and I die here, we will bung (meet) again in heaven.’
3) In the islands to the east, the message of Christ has changed lives in village after village, like wildfire in slow motion. If you could visit all the dots on the map where God’s unfolding story of redemption has been told, you would meet hundreds of faithful believers in Christ. Many of these folks, despite hardship, persecution and opposition are teaching the truth of God’s word to neighboring language groups.
Across the mainland, through the swamps, in the highlands and islands and beach villages of this country Jesus Christ is being made known. In this land of several hundred languages, praise to God is being multiplied.
4) Right now, as we go about our daily lives, a people group in the Ramu valley is hearing for the first time God’s story from creation to Christ. They have waited a long time. ‘It is already so sweet,’ is one response.’ I don’t care how long I have to sit and listen; I want to hear the rest of the story.’ Others cried, ‘It’s true, it’s true, it’s true!’
God so loved the world, says the bible, THE WORLD. From all parts of the earth God is calling people to himself. When Jesus said, ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell are powerless against it’, he did not wonder if this would happen; he said it with absolute certainty.
The inexorable, grace-filled gathering together of the church continues. Amelia, Justina, Kleotus, Dwon, Maria,Thaddeus, Jems, Joshua ……..i go i go i go. One by one, God is lovingly gathering his people.
As a bible teacher from this island country once reminded us, ‘We see just a small spot but God sees the whole bik piksa.’ God is, after all, the creator of the beautiful, huge, amazing, intricate canvas of life. When he deems it finished, he’ll sign his name and take us home.
Take heart! Look and see what God is doing, and rejoice!