Monday, May 23, 2005

Fellowship of the Saints

Sunday, 5/22/2005 21:36
I am still on a high. I went to church tonight. It was awesome… and I mean that in the original sense. Before coming to Banda Aceh, I was determined to try to find other Christians to hang out with. Fellowship with the Body in my lifeline in these kinds of environment. Someone has put together a master list of all the NGOs working in this area (over 180) and I was able to pick out several Christian NGOs quickly. The contact sheets have cell phone numbers (only way of communicating here) for several leaders of the groups. I called someone at Samaritan’s Purse, they were currently in the bush, but he referred me to someone who referred me to someone else. Finally I got hold of Sarah who told me where the church would be meeting. They have had some difficulties meeting. They explained that it is illegal in Indonesia to hold church services outside of a church building. The church had been meeting in various NGO offices (which are actually homes), but someone had reported them. I need to stress, this is a church for foreigners in Indonesia, the expats working in NGOs. Christian NGOs go to great length to ensure the government that they are here on a humanitarian mission, not to proselytize. The Islamic Shariah Police are watching them like hawks. So we actually met in a Chinese Methodist church at 4:30 PM. When I got to the building everyone was standing outside. They Someone explained that we couldn’t go in right away because the mosquitoes were so bad. They sent someone to a small store to buy repellent and bug spray. After fumigating for ten minutes and rubbing cream all over our bodies, we went inside.

Inside, I met Betsy, a fiery blond Texan from Houston. We had an instant connection as I mentioned I went to undergrad in Abilene… she did too… about fifteen years earlier. I went to Abilene Christian and she went to Hardin-Simmons. All said and done, we were about forty people, and we really were from everywhere, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada, USA, Gautamala, Singapore, Africa… a mini United Nations, united in Christ. Betsy actually led worship and preached. She spoke on worship and how it is the most powerful weapon in our spiritual arsenal. She had guitar. We sang, and she would talk for a bit, then we would sing some more. The church building reminded me of a black Baptist church… small, white, and ringing acoustics. Once we started singing, it sounded like we were 150 strong. We sang our hearts out and it felt so good. I have really missed the power and the calming/invigorating experience of congregational singing. We sang old songs, and new songs. We sang in English, Arabic, Spanish, and Indonesian (thank God for PowerPoint... yes even in tsunami ravaged Indonesia!). At the end she discussed Isaiah 6, my new favorite chapter in the bible.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. He was sitting on his throne, high and exalted, and his robes filled the whole Temple. Around him flaming creatures were standing, each of which had six wings. Each creature covered its face with two wings, and the body with two, and used the others for flying. They were calling out to each other:
“Holy, Holy, Holy!
The Lord Almighty is holy!
His Glory fills the world.”
The sound of their voices made the foundation of the Temple shake (and on this Sunday after the earthquake it had particular relevance) and the Temple itself became filled with smoke.

I said, “There is no hope for me! I am doomed because every word that passes my lips is sinful and I live among a people whose every word is sinful. And yet with my own eyes I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Then one of the creatures flew down to me, carrying a burning coal that he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with the burning coal and said, “this has touched your lips and now your guilt is gone and your sins are forgiven.

Then I heard the Lord say, “Whom will I send? Who will be our messenger?”
I answered, “I will go! Send me!”

There was so much energy in that room tonight… and it was heavy with His presence. These people in Banda Aceh saw with their own eyes the most powerful and devastating act of nature in at least two centuries, but that power is nothing compared to Christ.

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