Monday, November 7, 2011

Signs of growth

Sesi (see picture) came up early in the morning recently knocking at my door. He'd just returned from several days with the churches in the areas where the Mibu church has done outreaches. Completely on his own initiative, he'd wanted to go there and spend some time evaluating things so that they could help strategize how to keep things going in a positive direction there. He had taken notes and wanted to share them with me.

I was so encouraged to see that he'd just done this without being prompted. He just thought it was a good idea. He was right! But I was also encouraged to see the wisdom he displayed as he went through his observations with me and pinpointed areas of church growth that are positive and areas that may need a little attention. He had individual reports for the church in all three villages that he spent time in (Titirapok, Yongem, Langgane). Here's the boiled down version.

- For example, he noted that the men, when they're talking together, always seem to be talking about Jesus. How great is that?! Evidence of Jesus becoming more and more a real part of their lives!

- Sesi also pointed out that the men there really enjoy making new songs to sing about Jesus.

- The teaching there seems to be going well. The people talk often about how they want to be like the church as they read about it in Acts!

- Sesi observed how people so joyfully talk about the story of how Jesus has been changing their lives, their joy even accompanied by tears at times.

- The workload for bible teaching seems to be shared well between the teachers from the three villages.

- One of the teachers had to be disciplined and removed from a place of responsibility after being caught in adultery. The fact that the church deals with these discipline issues right away and does not follow the cultural norms of covering things up to save face is a really big deal. So while it's not a positive thing that this guy did, the church's reaction is a positive sign that they recognize the importance of the witness of the church!

- Sesi was concerned that many of the women seem like they might not be tracking along with the men. He noted that as they talk about Jesus, many are uncertain of the once-for-allness of his death and resurrection. Many don't seem too sure what that means for them when they die. (Stay tuned for more development on this one...)

- Sesi was also concerned about Bapake, the main teacher/leader there, who has been faithfully directing things over there for a number of years now. The concern had to do with how Bapake's involvement in the ministry is affecting his family. It's hard for them to maintain a garden when they don't live in their home village anymore. Since they don't have much of a garden, they've not done much in the way of cash crops, keeping them from being able to buy new clothes. Their current clothes are falling apart. His family is also really in need of blankets to stay warm during the cold nights that are so typical here. Thankfully, the people in Titirapok where Bapake and his family live have built him a house and given them cooking utensils. Bapake's wife is starting to feel the strain of being away from home so much. (Stay tuned for more exciting development on this one too...)

All in all, the report shows really positive signs of a growing church. I'm still amazed at how Sesi was moved to do an evaluation like this on his own! Praise God!

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