Twenty-two of our church brothers and sisters attended the Houston House Church (at BHC a.k.a Small Church) Seminar for Lay Leaders from Oct 11-14. We were eager to learn how new disciples are made in the context of the Small Church. Below is a testimony from sister Winnie Lee.
The Sacrificial Service
Last weekend I had the privilege to attend a Small Church Seminar to learn why traditional churches need to return to the practice of the New Testament churches (aka: the small church), and how it works. It was truly a humbling yet blessed experience for me.
Why small church? “He appointed 12 – designated them apostles- that they might be with him…” (Mk 3:13-14). This scripture verse really opened my eyes. Here Jesus had the apostles live with Him so they could see how Jesus lived and ministered. The apostles didn’t learn by simply listening to His words, they learned by watching Jesus in action and getting to know His character, will and power. In the New Testament new believers met at home. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. They ate, prayed, praised God and fellowshipped with one another. In other words, they are watching and learning from the apostles just as the apostles from Jesus.
Today the small church has more advantages of making disciples by emulating the New Testament house churches. The speaker of this seminar, when answering the question of what works the best with nonbelievers, has carefully said that usually there are Two Things to bring a nonbeliever to Christ:
1. Sacrificial Service (our part)
2. Prayer answered (God’s part)
In the entire 3 days of the seminar my husband and I stayed at a small church shepherd’s home. It gave me a close look on how and why the small church can effectively make disciples. Our host family has 4 young children. They meet with the two other families in the same small church every Friday night, and take turn to provide dinner. Although they are Vietnamese, the shepherd and his wife have been inviting a Mandarin speaking nonbeliever couple who lived in the same community to join their gathering. Last Friday, they prepared a bountiful hot pot dinner which was the nonbelievers’ favorite food. Our host family has been friends with and included this Chinese couple in their small church meeting for 3 years. After dinner the group sang praise songs, shared something they were thankful for during the week and their prayer requests, then the children were dismissed to their own group. The adults continued on a 15-minute Bible study. Then came the most intimate and genuine sharing time!
A brother who has an unbelieving wife shared his physical, emotional and spiritual struggles and sufferings. It was so difficult for him, yet he continued to show love and kindness to his wife. His desire to do the right thing to please the Lord and to love his wife brought tears to my eyes. This group is small yet very close and trusting. Everyone had plenty of time to talk, including the VIP couple who frankly shared their struggles at work during the week, and even their expectations for their children’s future. They wanted their children to be very successful and able to make a lot of money. Although this may not be what Christians believe, yet I was really touched and impressed to see that this small church shepherd has created such a friendly and trusting environment for everyone to pour out their deepest thoughts and feelings without the fear of being judged or criticized. Here I saw a real family! A family that is intimately close in heart and spirit.
This trust and closeness did not come without a price. Our host, the shepherd couple, spent a lot of time, money, energy, and support on their group members as well as their VIP friends for many years. Many of their shepherds have been serving for decades.
It is through such sacrificial service:
– Believers learn to love and to be kind, to care for each other, to give and forgive, to be patient yet joyful. They in turn grow and mature in living out the Biblical principle and teaching.
– Nonbelievers are reached to join this loving family, getting to see and experience who Christians are and how they live their lives. After accepting the Lord they continue to have a place to receive nourishment, to serve, and grow.
When our host immediately ran back home to pick up our seminar binder which we forgot to bring to the class, when they graciously insisted us on using their own bed for my back pain, when they overwhelmed us by their unbelievable hospitality and thoughtfulness, when I witnessed first hand how they cried and prayed for their suffering sheep, I have humbly learned what “sacrificial service” is.