The History That Walks Among Us
Pastor Ian reflects on his recent conversation with one of the founding members of GBC.
The week before last, I had the unusual privilege of sitting down with one of the founding members of Grace Baptist Church. This dear brother has endured several weeks in the hospital fighting a robust bacterial infection, … and yet still graciously entertained a visitor.
As we sat together, he spontaneously began to share fond memories of the early days of life and ministry in Grace Baptist Church. He shared of how they had such infectious joy in their newfound faith. He spoke of how they would pack into Miss Laura Clement’s van and drive over to the Queenstown area. No air-con. No problem! He reminisced of how they would tumble out of the van and set loudspeakers on top of the roof, inviting neighbours to come hear the gospel in word and in song. We both shared in the wondrous awareness that through those early cultivation efforts, Queenstown Baptist Church continues to faithfully bear the fruit of gospel obedience.
There was a gentle smile as he spoke. And an obvious, settled joy. In turn, I felt a sudden, overwhelming sense of gratitude.
In Psalm 77, the psalmist writes with a troubled heart. We don’t know exactly what led to his distress, but clearly he wrote in a moment of deep despair. He seemed to have no friend to lend comfort nor therapist to give him counsel. What he did have was his memories: “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” (Ps 77:11-12)
As I listened to the memories of one of our older saints I suddenly began to realise what a treasure he is; in fact, what a gift each of our founding members are. They are living history walking among us. In their memories, we can ponder all of God’s work and meditate on His mighty deeds!
As the psalmist remembered God’s faithful intervention in the past, his sorrow blossomed into resolute praise: “Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?” (Ps 77:13) Essentially, his memories of God past faithfulness began to inform the content of his present expectations, which then led to an overflow of praise.
Five weeks ago, as we expressed gratitude for 60 years of God’s grace, I asked us to recognise the founding members of Grace Baptist Church. Of the original fifty or so founding members, there were eight still present to celebrate God’s faithful ministry among us. How should this impact us?
1. We should recognise that our window of opportunity is closing: The opportunity to hear first hand of God’s past faithfulness during difficult times. The opportunity to be reminded that we now enjoy the fruit of faithful cultivation. The opportunity to visit the faithfulness of God through the memories of those who have experienced it first-hand. And the opportunity to learn from, and perhaps even be humbled by, the resilient joy that continues to faithfully abide in their hearts. Just this week, a group of our ‘mature sisters’ gave great energy to provide a lavish, home-cooked meal to the grateful girls of Gladiolus Place.
I noted that at least one of them was moving with some considerable discomfort. I suspect that all of them were more than a little exhausted the next morning. And yet, there they were, loving and serving in Jesus’ name. And praying for each girl. How humbling to witness such faithful service!
2. The baton of responsibility ought to weigh heavy in our hands. We could easily dismiss the ‘stories of old’ by reminding each other that, “Things are different now, comfort has made the culture more resistant. We can no longer do evangelism in public spaces.” But the question remains: How will we continue the heritage of faithfulness in our day? What does ‘faithful’ look like in our generation? I would like to suggest several opportunities:
- Consider bringing a friend to the YA Outreach Event, “Who Do You Think You Are?” They will meet to discuss this fascinating topic this Saturday and you can still sign up at tinyurl.com/identitygbc
- Prayerfully ask God whether or not He might use you to demonstrate His compassion for those who live around us, and then contact Pastor Ollie at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you might plug in with our Compassion Ministry Team.
- Do you have neighbours? Do they have children? Perhaps you may want to invite them to enroll in our 28-30 November Vacation Bible School? If so you can either register them this Sunday at the VBS booth on L3, or write to email@example.com for more information.
- Our Seek and Discover classes begin again this coming October. If you have a friend who may be open to spiritual things, see this week’s ministry guide for details, or contact Kang Wei at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Ask God for opportunity and courage to invite one or two friends to join us for our Christmas evangelistic service on 25 December.
3. Finally, we will intentionally praise God for the faithful intervention that has been so well preserved and amplified in the hearts of those who have gone before us. Perhaps even now, as you read this eNews, you may want to praise God for our heritage of faith and service, and for the saints who have brought it to us! And maybe, should you spot a group of these older ones sitting together during our fellowship time, you may want to shape your worship by sitting down to hear a story or two!
- Please remember that our venue for our Monthly Elders’ Prayer Meeting will shift this Friday, from L5 to Room 310 C-D. We will start at 8 pm sharp.
- Don’t forget the YA Outreach Event this Saturday at 6:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall.
- Let’s pray that each of us will come with open hearts this Sunday as Pastor Eugene teaches on True Worship from Romans 12:1-2.
- Please be in prayer for the ministry of Grace to Acts Baptist Church through Pastor Ollie this Sunday.