In the summer of 2015, I had a particular experience that left a lasting impression on me. That summer, there was a National College Training in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. The speaking brother had just given a message on consecration, and hundreds of college students had lined up to consecrate themselves to the Lord. At the very end, a group of 10 or so leading brothers lined up to pray for the younger generation as a whole.
I can still remember vividly the atmosphere in the room and the spirit of the brothers’ prayers. They prayed strong, desperate prayers. Some were even on the verge of tears. They prayed desperately for our growth in the divine life, for us to go on in the Lord, and for us to advance further than their generation. Some even admitted their failures as a generation and prayed that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes. They prayed that we would be the generation to bring the Lord back.
As they prayed one after another, I was touched to the point of tears. Having been born and raised in the church life, I knew I had spiritual fathers, but it wasn’t until I heard their prayers that I realized what kind of heart my spiritual fathers had toward me and the rest of my generation. Their hearts are absolutely for us. Their hearts are to pour out everything on us.
This sentiment was confirmed again and again throughout my years in the church life, especially during my time in the Full-Time Training in Anaheim, a Bible Truth and Church Service postgraduate program. In this program I had closer and more frequent interaction with the leading brothers.
These brothers would pour out their whole being on all of us – not only in our classes where they would faithfully minister the Word of God to us, but also in our group fellowships and personal appointments, which they offered willingly, making themselves readily available to us.
They served us as slaves and cared for us as shepherds and as fathers.
In class, they would often share their own personal experiences of Christ, even if it would expose a past failure they had, usually so we could learn from their mistakes.
They never claimed to be perfect or superior. Rather, they recognized that they were all imperfect sinners saved eternally and daily by the mercy and grace of God, the precious blood of Christ, and the life-giving Spirit.
Outside of class, I had the opportunity to have personal appointments with some of the leading brothers, and in those times I never felt condemned or judged.
I never felt that I was being forced or coerced to do anything, or to not do anything. I never felt like I was being discriminated in any way for any reason. Rather, I always received love, life, and light. I was always shepherded back to Christ, and I was always encouraged to pray.
I was treated fairly and equally, and I received respect and support. I was encouraged to never despise my portion of Christ, but rather to develop the healthy practice of functioning in the meetings of the church life (e.g. praying, speaking, serving, etc.) in a normal way to minister what I had received and enjoyed of Christ into the other members of the Body of Christ.
During my time in the Full-Time Training, I also came across a quote that reminded me very much of my experience in 2015:
“What the older ones experienced was very effective in building up the younger ones; therefore, God could prepare from the second generation more than six hundred thousand men with a rich inheritance and strong background who were qualified to be formed into an army to fight for God’s kingdom” (Raising Up the Next Generation for the Church Life).
I’m extremely grateful for my rich inheritance and strong background that has been (and is continually being) passed down to me from all the saints of the older generation. I’m thankful that the leading brothers have been so faithful in pouring out all that they have on the next generation. There is no doubt within me concerning these ones because I know the loving heart of my spiritual fathers.
In fact, this impression was reaffirmed at the 2019 North America College Training this past summer when several leading brothers prayed again for this current generation of young people. Their hearts haven’t changed. They are fighting for us and they are fighting along with us to bring the Lord back and to bring in His kingdom.
Sharing by a sister from her appreciation of how our spiritual fathers care for us, shepherd us, and serve us.