This is the message of faith that we proclaim:
- if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:8-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible
THE SIMPLE THINGS – My big brother in Ministry – Rev. G. Vincent Lewis – first fueled my interest in Theology and Systematic Theology, when he was a graduate student at Virginia Union Theological Seminary.
My little brother in Ministry – Bishop Rudolph W. McKissick, Jr., as a teenager used to crack me up with his imitations of some of America’s great preachers of the time. He was such a gifted teenager – with such an awesome voice, and spontaneous wit – until the greatness that has shrouded his life and Ministry was inevitable.
My FATHER in the Ministry – Rev. Rudolph W. McKissick, Sr. – is the greatest mentor to preachers on the PLANET, and will always be as much a father in my own mind as my natural father is.
Thirty-five years ago this month, I accepted Christ, sitting on a bench in a park in Jacksonville, Florida. As a gift He turned my eyes and heart toward a church nearby – a church called Bethel, whose slogan is her legacy: a church “… In the heart of the city for the heats of the people!” Everything that I am in Ministry, I owe to the rock-solid foundation I got as a young preacher, at Bethel. I am sure I am not alone in this … and I have made no secret of this, wherever I have gone through all these years.
I mention this auspicious beginning as a segue to a thought that came to my mind a few days ago, as I was reading some clever and “deep” thought some Saint had posted on the wall on Facebook. As deep as it was it made me ponder what it would mean to the Saints worshipping in one of the many “house churches,” here in China.
It was right after this moment of reflection that I posted the “Tub-tism” pictures to my profile. I took them back in 2006, when we baptized 11 young men and women – seven of whom were on their way to France for a year of sharing the Gospel.
The “caption” that came to mind was simply this: “being behind this wall has taught me that the purest truth of the Gospel can be understood – even by those who do not know how to be deep!”
An Apostolic friend of mine who saw the pictures of the baptism asked me if I’d baptized them in Jesus’ Name – I suppose she wanted to know if they were ‘really’ Saved … but I told her in a place like this I am satisfied to know that these young people have a concept about believing in Christ in the first place. The handfuls of seminaries here – and other resources for systematic Ministry training – are connected to the Government – run “Three Self Movement,” and not available to the “silent majority” of Christians here who refuse to become a part of that movement.
House Church pastors – like Pastor Gan, Pastor Immanuel, and Sister Sara – go into every nook and cranny and talk to every live body about Jesus. They stay a day or two, and leave some Bibles, books, and tracts. From there the locals organize “meetings” – sometimes daily – and “share” with each other, based on what they learned when the preacher was there.
Pastors Immanuel and Sara went to meetings that an American lay Christian held in his apartment for three years. When his contract was finished he left Immanuel and Sara in charge. In 2005 I met this brother in Detroit, and he put me in touch with Immanuel. Our fellowship started from there. Back then Immanuel got up at 5:30 in the morning to pray in a park near his home, and then preached in various houses around the city continuously, until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. This was his schedule – SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.
Periodically, he would travel to villages around our Province, or in nearby Anhui Province – where the police are terribly hostile to Christians who belong to un-registered house churches. Same routine: Hold a meeting for 5, 6 … TEN HOURS … leave somebody in charge … come back in a few months to share, again.
For us … more accustomed to systematic discipling programs … this is no way to do Ministry. But for so much of China, this is the best you can do.
More later …