Reproduction is a key sign of a healthy Church. Anyone will tell you that out here on the field. It has become Missiology 101. You start a church and if you do it right you empower its members to trust in Jesus, hear the Holy Spirit, and evangelize like crazy. In no time at all a daughter church will be born. I have even read one guy, whom I greatly respect write that if he has not seen a daughter church start within a year he will have considered that church plant a failure. Well, that’s clear. And it is a principle that I think is a good one. But if there is one thing that I am convinced of is that God is all about breaking down our principles, rules, paradigms, and slogans. It is almost as if God believes that if we have a dependable method then we won’t need Him anymore. Trust me, God’s job is secure. We still need Him.
This last week I traveled down to Anfalas with the team. It was great to be traveling with Frodo, Sam, and Merry again. Kili and Fili and their wives were baptized in Anfalas almost three years ago. Since that time they have met daily for prayer, Bible reading, and mutual encouragement. It has been a rough road for them as they have faced persecution but they have stood strong. They are bold and fearless in expressing their faith in Jesus. We went into Kili's house and began to sing and worship together. We arrived around 6:30 in the evening and prayed, sang, and worshiped until just before Midnight. We ate bread and tea with milk in it together and even though it was quite cold outside we were warm and cozy in the small room that they live in. In the morning we got up fairly early- about 5:30am and gathered together for the Lord's Supper and some more encouragement from the Word. It was then that I asked them, 'When is someone else going to have the courage to be baptized?' Their answer surprised me a little. I thought that maybe they did not expect anyone else to join them, maybe they had grown cold in their evangelism. I was wrong. They said that they prayed for the villagers everyday by name. They went to this villager's house and then that villager's house for prayer and Bible study but they didn't like it so they would stop going there and then go to someone else's house. They prayed for the sick often. They served their community every way they could think of. I honestly did not realize how active they had been. We went out of the room and walked down the street. Almost as if to make his point with an exclamation mark Fili invited me into a home where a man had hurt his leg and could not walk. The leg was not broken and there was no sign of injury but he was in pain and could not get up. We invited Merry in as well and we told the man how Jesus came to show us the love of God. We told him that Jesus was the Son of God and that there was healing power in His name if he would believe. We laid hands on him and prayed for him. I don't know what will happen. I just know that Fili had done and said all this before. As we walked and talked to many in the village it was obvious that all the guys had been saying was true. Kili and Fili and their wives are sowing seed with tears in their eyes but to this day there is no fruit. Fili is asking us if they should leave the village and go back to the mountains where they came from. I don't know what he should do. I long for God to move in that region and be glorified by many but after three years I don't know what to say.
And yet, I do know what to say- and we said it. Two years ago Sam had a dream. He woke up in the night while we were out on a project and he woke us up and told us about his dream in a very animated excited voice- especially for 4am. He said that he saw Kili and Fili standing in the barren wasteland that is their village and they were arguing. They were arguing about what to do about the drought and they could not decide whether to go or stay. In frustration Fili hit the ground with his hoe and water burst forth hundreds of feet in the air and rained down on the village, the neighboring villages, and the whole region. Sam was convinced this was a word from God about what He was going to do in Anfalas. We told Kili and Fili to remain faithful and to be patient. God is at work. He does not work by our time-tables or by our measures of success but He works none the less.
I have my own definition for success and it is simply this: Are the men and women with whom I am working obedient to the Word of God and to Jesus? If they are then that is success. It has been three years but even if we wait for three more or if we never see huge numbers of converts I believe that the faithfulness of the two couples in Anfalas has already brought more glory to the Father than many large organizations. Faithfulness and obedience are the key characteristics in the Kingdom of God. May the Lord fill us with both.