I want to thank the 333 prayer partners for praying for me and our church last year.
The prayer request for 2005 was: let there be many house churches settled all over the world, and grant our pastor a gentle heart. I think that the first part was answered. As I wrote in a previous Pastor’s Corner, house churches are taking root all over the world and I don’t need to be anxious any longer. I used to feel like a farmer who planted seeds but was not sure if they would bear fruit. Now I feel like a farmer who has just planted seeds and is expectantly waiting for the harvest.
Regarding the second part of the prayer request, I am not sure whether it has been answered or not; it’s hard for me to judge myself. People close to me may be better able to answer that.
There is, however, one thing I can say for myself. I am aware now more than ever how ungentle I am. I’ve noticed how easily I get upset when things are not done the way I want, how impatient I get when someone spends a long time talking about something that can be said in a short sentence, how irritated I get when people drive slowly in the fast lanes. Being more sensitive to these feelings, I am now able to direct my attention to God for help when such negative feelings arise.
Another change I experienced is that I am more convinced of the need for gentleness. The book “The Politics of Jesus”, written by John Howard Yoder, helped convince me of this. In the book, he argues convincingly that the cross is more powerful than the sword because it is God’s way. Sinful people resort to violence and brute force to win over opponents, but God works through gentleness and self-sacrifice to secure victory. The prime example is Jesus and his death on the cross. When his enemy nailed him to the cross, they seemed triumphant and he seemed defeated. But through his death and subsequent resurrection, God conquered Satan and death.
I think that this principle also works on a personal level. God’s power becomes perfected in weakness. So in death we live. And in gentleness we become strong. This book and others convinced me intellectually that the meek will inherit the earth. So I need to continue to become a gentler person in order to become a leader God can use.
Starting this Sunday, we will invite people to sign up to be 333 prayer partners for 2006. The prayer request this year is related to my Sabbatical. Before I take it, I want to diagnose our churches and find ways to strengthen them so that we continue to be a model house church. After I finish this task, I will visit churches that have potential to be future leaders of the house church movement and help them through seminars, consultation and preaching. The 333 prayer request for 2006 is: “Help our church continue to grow to be a leader in the house church movement, and help Pastor Chai have a fruitful sabbatical.”
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