Standing Strong Through the Storm - Thursday, December 5, 2013

FELLOWSHIP FUNCTION OF THE CHURCH

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household. Ephesians 2:19

As Christians we are called to belong—not just believe. We are not meant to be loners but true members of his body—part of Jesus’ family. It is thus important for Christians to spend time together to share their spiritual lives, encourage each other and have fellowship.

Satan brings all his efforts to bear upon Christians to prevent this fellowship. He realizes that believers need to help and strengthen each other, so he will try to prevent it by promoting indifference or by using the force of circumstances (Hebrews 10:24,25). Even informal or casual meetings can be used of the Lord for strengthening Christians, especially when formal meetings and large group fellowships are forbidden. Of course, large meetings can be useful, too. But normally, more help is given one-to-one in small “cell” groups where specific needs can be shared, discussed and ministered to in-depth.

Mona’s story is a good illustration. It wasn’t only that she was raped when she sneaked across the border into Malaysia. It wasn’t simply because she sent her daughter back to Burma and had never seen her since she was a baby. It wasn’t just the violence of those terrifying days in the ‘80’s in Rangoon when students and soldiers clashed in the streets forcing her husband (then a student) and her to flee the country.

It was the thousand nights of loneliness. The trauma of the past haunted her. The papers she needed to stay in Malaysia legally. Papers that she could not acquire. The possibility of arrest and punishment by police.

The nightmares came on leathery wings of fear, dug their claws deeply and took up residence in her psyche. Her mind, once sound and clear, clouded with doubts and delusions: the sound of voices she did not know and horrifying images that would not go away.

But hers was not a life destined for darkness. The clouds were pulled away slowly, partly by the psychiatrist at the General Hospital, secured for her by the volunteers at the free medical clinic. Also by the kindness of strangers who reached out their hands in generosity.

It was the moment Mona was able to tell another woman in her own language of her troubles; this was when the first ray of light cut through the cloud and shone the possibility of hope into her circumstance.

Later, it was the time she spent with other women from Burma at the church. It was the songs they sang, the shared experience and language, the friendship, the food, the games.

Fellowship is life-giving to those who have been deprived of it.

RESPONSE: Today I will seek to experience true fellowship in Christ.

PRAYER: Pray for opportunities to support others who need a listening ear or a word of encouragement.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

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