Mothers and Fathers Part Two
Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 amp
Easter Sunday, 2019, Amanda and I found ourselves sitting on a rickety bench, outside a ramshackle church, listening to snippets of a sermon. I caught as much of the preaching as my limited command of Bislama allowed. We were hot and sticky from doing our laundry by hand and the bench felt a little less comfortable by the minute. We were in the Solomon Islands, in a little village nobody’s probably heard of, and only those who had the pleasure of manual labour in the tropics would appreciate the level of discomfort our systems, used to air conditioning and icy drinks, were suffering.
As my friend Sereili was preaching, I was having a moment of (spiritual) motherly pride. I was in awe of the power and passion with which she was preaching as I reminisced about our first meeting. The shy and quiet girl developed into a formidable woman of God, able to hold her own in any circumstance.
I heard her invite aunty Esther up to share a testimony. Aunty Esther was our hostess…a lovely, much older lady who was usually dripping with sweat and smelling of wood smoke from slaving over an open fire all day to feed and care for us. For two weeks aunty Esther slept on a mat in a store room as we were given the honour of sleeping in her bedrooms. What a woman of God!
It was when I heard her say “in 1977” that my heart dropped. I whispered to Amanda to get comfortable, for I expected we were going to be on the bench for a long time yet. I caught very little of the testimony as Solomon’s Bislama is a little different to the Vanuatu version I am more familiar with. The roar and applause of the people didn’t help either. They were so excited and we had no idea why.
Later that evening, after they day’s sessions were done and dusted and we settled in for our customary recap of the day, we learned what the ruckus was about. As it turned out, in 1977 two Australian men came to the village to preach and teach for a few days. Aunty Esther was a teenager at the time and it was the story of what transpired in those days that had everyone so excited. As these men preached and taught, a revival broke out in the village and many people, also from surrounding villages came to the Lord.
The church had organised themselves in ministry teams. There was the evangelists, who would go around the area and tell people about Jesus, there was the healing team who would see to the physical needs. Once people accepted Jesus, they were referred to the deliverance team and from there the discipling would start until they were ready to join a ministry team.
We were blown away. One evening, as Aunty Esther played her weathered ukulele, singing the old revival songs which still carried the fire of God I asked her one of the smartest questions I have ever asked of anyone. I wanted to know how the revival died. How did they get from that place to where we found them…a church with no power.
The answer was so simple, yet so profound. Aunty Esther said that the old people refused to teach the young people how to do the work. The children were ministered to, but never taught how to do it themselves. When the old people died, she said, the revival died with them. What a terrible, terrible shame. What a loss.
It got me wondering how much of what the Lord is depositing in us is going to die with us when our time comes. What holds us back from passing on what the Lord is teaching us? For some, I believe, it’s insecurity. When you don’t believe that you have anything of value to impart the body misses out on the benefit of your unique gifts, talents and anointing. For other I believe it’s fear. The “what if” is so much louder than the “what if I don’t”. Nobody likes to be in the receiving end of rejection but I have learned from much experience that rejection is not fatal. Giving up is though.
The last group would be those who are protective of their platform, of their “territory”. It’s only when we give up on the notion of “my” ministry, “my” gift, “my” whatever and recognise that we are all but small parts of a large body and Christ is the head. We are to be about our Father’s business, not building our own platforms, extending His kingdom, not ours.
I believe during this trying season, the Lord is doing some deep work in many people. He is depositing wisdom and revelation in us as He is preparing His church for the coming harvest. He is exposing everything in us that will cause us to abort what He is wanting to birth. Let us have a posture of “I do me, and you do you”. Allow the fire of affliction to purify you and leave the rest to the Lord. Jesus is more than able to prepare His bride. There is purpose to what God is doing…it is so that we will be ready for our Bridegroom’s return and so that we are prepared and equipped to help others get ready.
“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will prepare and clear the way before Me. And the Lord [the Messiah], whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s soap [which removes impurities and uncleanness]. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi [the priests], and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord [grain] offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in ancient years. Malachi 3: 1-4 AMP