This coming Sunday, Lord willing, we plan to have a special service that will mark the official founding of the church in Izcuchaca. Esmeralda wanted to know what that means or why it’s necessary, which was hard to explain.
The best explanation I could give is the human need for ceremony and monuments, something that God Himself seems to have used a lot throughout the Bible. It is useful for us to make a stand, to mark a position, to commemorate victories and even losses.
This is partly because we are forgetful creatures. Without our Ebenezers, we are likely not to remember that it was the Lord who led us to this point by His power and in His time and for His glory.
We have been looking forward to this for quite a while, and finally it seems to be near reality. But rather than living on a mountain-top experience, we are all facing some of our toughest discouragement and disillusionment in recent times.
I had noted the deteriorating climate of the church and made plans for a members’ meeting to try to discuss some things, but one conflict after another has kept us from getting together. Unexpected visitors, running out of water, sudden sickness, a friend needing a run to the hospital, a family death–all sorts of things. It became very apparent to me that this meeting was being blocked.
But we did manage to meet last night, and I’m glad we did because it revealed what I had been sensing. All of the members noted a marked increase in spiritual oppression since the mission Board’s visit one month ago. Here are some things that came up in the meeting:
- I have lost my desire to pray.
- I don’t enjoy reading the Bible.
- I feel angry all the time.
- I am facing more severe temptations than I have in years.
- I’ve had severe nightmares in which I choose grave sins and reject Jesus.
- I feel I’m not a real Christian.
- I have been on the verge of panic attacks for days on end.
- I am considering leaving the church and going to the States because I’m only a burden here.
- I feel without purpose.
- I am tired of fighting and have thought it would be easier to give up altogether.
If this feels alarming and strange to you, it should. These are not the radiant testimonies of the group from a month ago. It is truly like talking to completely different people.
We have faced numerous setbacks from chronic sickness, no water, three flat tires, a small fire in the house, a couple of medical emergencies, a change in the mission administration, to some things too personal to share here. All of this while the whole group was plagued with a sense of defeat and malaise that kept us in the dark and unable to pray.
The cause is obvious to me. We are under attack. Why? Because the gates of hell have opened up to resist the founding of a church being built on the Rock of Jesus. But even the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church of Jesus!
As I encouraged the group, we should rejoice that we are under attack and that we are counted worthy of attack because it means the enemy sees the Light in us as a threat that will be effective. If we can endure these hard times and fight through with patience and faith, we will grow stronger. And we have the promise of a crown of life from God. James Chapter 1 has been an encouragement to me in thinking through this.
We have decided to set aside the day today as a special time of spiritual battle. We plan to spend the day as a group, reading the Bible aloud, singing, confessing any sins the Lord shows us, and praying together.
We invite any of our brothers and sisters from other places to join us in any amount of time you are led to do. We are but dust. We are not strong enough for this fight. This is an impossible situation. But we praise God that Jesus is our Lord! He is in us and far more powerful than anything brought against us, and there is nothing impossible with Him.
The plan for the next couple of days is to carry on in special prayer. We’re thinking to try a schedule of prayer that allows us to have someone praying around the clock, each person taking an hour. If you would like to commit to join us in prayer where you are for a specific hour, just send me a note.
Lord willing, the new GCM Board chairman and another pastor from the Advisory Board with his wife will be arriving Friday morning. Our goal is to have the church ceremony on Sunday morning with the anticipation of observing the Lord’s Supper Sunday evening.
Here we raise our Ebenezer. God has brought us to this place, and we cannot go on without Him. It is His work. It is the Lord’s church.