Sharing Laughter And Tears

I just came back from the 43rd House Church Conference for Pastors, which was held in San Jose. It was the first time in North America that the conference was sponsored by not one church but several churches in the area. Eleven churches participated as sponsors. Interestingly, most of them had either just implemented the house church or were preparing for it. It warmed my heart to see churches of different denominations become one, taking turns preparing meals and providing rides for seminar attendees in one accord.

A highlight of every conference is the testimonies given by pastors who implemented the house church. They’re always moving but were particularly so at this conference. Let me briefly share some of them.

Pastor Kook-chul Ahn was an SAT instructor in Chongju, South Korea. He found that many students in his class were from broken homes. Many of their parents were alcoholics who constantly fought. He and his wife were drawn to their lives. Sometimes people would call them at 3 AM, in the middle of fighting. He and his wife would occasionally listen to drunken monologues for hours. Instead of judging them, they tried to be their friends, and people started to change. And they formed a church which now has a Sunday worship attendance of 50. I feel that he is a true Christian pastor, and that next to him I don’t look like one.

Pastor Sam Yoon of Northern California Mission Church shared his experience in implementing the house church with youth. He let the students become shepherds, rather than having adult youth leaders, and let students choose their own shepherds like adult house churches do. He reported that many young people came to Christ as a result and are becoming disciples of Jesus.

Pastor Nam Soo Cho – the pastor of a Japanese church in a Tokyo suburb – shared his experience in implementing the house church in Japan. His church had just sponsored a House Church Seminar for Japanese lay leaders before he flew to the US for this conference. Many who had registered for the seminar canceled their registration when the tsunami hit. He considered canceling the seminar but decided against it, feeling that doing so would be like capitulating to Satan. Eventually 28 of the 35 people who had originally registered came.

There were many other moving testimonies. One pastor shared his experience of being one of the few who implemented the house church early, failed, and started again after 10 years. One pastor related his experience of three key lay leaders leaving the church within a year, struggling to understand why God let that happen, finally realizing that he had never loved those leaders, and repenting. One pastors’ shepherd from Korea shared honestly about the troubles of pastors who have just started mission churches, including financial difficulties, deteriorating marriages, and depression in their wives.

At these conferences, we share a lot of laughter and tears.

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