-A Brief Testimony of My Experience in the Church Life-
I am happy for this opportunity to share a brief testimony of my overwhelmingly positive experience in the church life.
I was born and raised in California and met the church when I was 18 years old as a freshman in college. At first, I didn’t understand why the saints in the church were so involved. I was accustomed to simply waiting for the Lord to come back, speaking to people about Him here and there, and otherwise enjoying my life as best I could in the meantime. The saints, on the other hand, seemed to be entirely focused on the Bible, on meeting together, praying, preaching the gospel, caring for each other and for new believers, learning and speaking truths from the Bible, etc. Notwithstanding our differences in pursuit, I stuck around to join weekly Bible studies and home meetings on Friday night. Overall, I could tell that the saints genuinely loved me, regardless of how much I participated in various church meetings.
It wasn’t until I began reading the Life-Study of Ephesians with some other students my age that I began to grasp why the saints in the church were so serious about their Christian life and church life. In message after message, the words, verses, and chapters of this deep book were opened to me so that I saw what is God’s economy and how I can participate in it. What I remember most vividly from those messages is that God needs the church for His expression and representation, the church is Christ constituted into His believers, and every day and every moment we should redeem the time to be filled with Christ until we are overflowing with Christ to be the fullness of the One who fills all in all. This is God’s economy and this is the meaning of life, my Christian life and the church life.
Upon this realization, I was no longer around the church life, I was in it, happy beyond expression, and desirous to live my whole life in the center of God’s heart’s desire. It’s been almost 14 years since I met the saints on my campus, and almost 13 since I came into the church life. These years have been the best of my now almost 33, and although trials have come, they are only getting brighter and brighter.
Soon after coming into the church life, I decided to finish college as quickly as possible and join the Full-Time Training in Anaheim. I did so, and can testify that this was one of the best decisions of my life, and probably the most difficult and rewarding. It was difficult because the Lord honored my decision to attend and did a deep work in me. It was rewarding for the very same reason, and because I gained Christ, was saturated with His word, and learned many lessons in church and gospel service. The training also helped me improve my skills in folding, cleaning, punctuality, etc. After graduating from the extension of the FTTA in Boston in 2012, I was received back in my sending locality and spent a year serving on the campus, working part time, and preparing for graduate school. In 2013, I moved to Dublin, Ireland to finish my studies, and began meeting in the church there. The saints in Dublin have loved me, supported me in many ways, and fed me with the riches of Christ to keep me healthy in my walk with the Lord. In every locality in which I’ve met, I’ve been taken care of and fostered both humanly and spiritually.
It’s difficult for me to communicate in writing the care I’ve received in the church life, partly due to the volume of care I’ve received. There are too many instances to enumerate. It seems that every day, or at least every week, the saints in my locality or abroad, find a way to shepherd me and meet my particular need at a particular time. Also, the care I’ve received has been so timely, so detailed, so genuine, and so self-sacrificing that to try to explain it would take away from it, would minimize it in some way. So, it’s impossible for me to adequately convey the love, supply, encouragement, support, conviction, instruction, covering, blessing, and building up, that I’ve received in the church life; and if I could, this letter wouldn’t be brief as promised. What I can say is that although the church life is not perfect–because those of us who compose it are still in the old creation and also because we are not immune from the wolves coming in among us spoken of by Paul in Acts 20:29–all the localities in which I’ve spent time have been “hospitals”, “schools”, and “gardens.” In the churches, I’ve found refuge from the storms of life, light to direct my path, and food to feed my spirit so I can grow, and so that the Body of Christ can be built up. I am so happy to be in the church life. It is my home wherever I go and there is nowhere else for me.
I pray that the Lord would have mercy on me and on all the saints to stand strong in the church until we meet Him face to face.