Thursday, September 2, 2010

2 Vital Aspects of Our Christian Ministry

FYI - I decided to combine this entry with the theme of the past 2 day's texts, because they are closely related...

Encourage One Another as the Day Draws Near
(audio link)

The following info (on pgs 14 & 15 of the 1/15/09 Watchtower), mentions a really important point about how Christians have a two-fold commission when it comes to the ministry...we need to continue teaching others and making new disciples, while at the same time, helping to support and assist fellow believers so that they can remain disciples.

Which Is More Important?
God's servants are entrusted not only with a gift to be used in behalf of their fellow believers but also with a message to be shared with their fellow man. The apostle Paul recognized these two aspects of his service to Jehovah. He wrote to the congregation in Ephesus regarding "the stewardship of the undeserved kindness of God" that was given to him for their benefit. (Ephesians 3:2) Yet, he also stated: "We have been proved by God as fit to be entrusted with the good news." (1 Thessalonians 2:4) Like Paul, we too recognize that we are entrusted with the assignment of serving as preachers of God's Kingdom. By sharing zealously in the preaching work, we strive to imitate the example that Paul set as an untiring proclaimer of the good news. (Acts 20:20, 21; 1 Corinthians 11:1) We know that preaching the Kingdom message can save lives. At the same time, however, we also strive to imitate Paul by looking for opportunities to "impart some spiritual gift" to fellow believers. (Romans 1:11, 12; 10:13-15)

Which of these two Christian activities is more important? Asking a question like that is somewhat similar to asking about a bird, Which of his two wings is more important? The answer is obvious. A bird needs to use both wings in order to fly properly. Similarly, we need to share in both aspects of our service to God in order to be complete as Christians. Thus, instead of regarding our assignments to preach the good news and to build up fellow believers as unrelated, we view them just as the apostles Peter and Paul did—as responsibilities that complement each other. In what way?

As evangelizers, we employ whatever teaching skills we may have in trying to touch the hearts of our fellow men with the uplifting message of God's Kingdom. In that way, we hope to help them to become Christ's disciples. However, we also use whatever abilities and other gifts we may have in trying to warm the hearts of our fellow believers with uplifting words and helpful deeds—expressions of God's undeserved kindness. (Proverbs 3:27; 12:25) In that way, we hope to help them remain Christ's disciples. In both activities—preaching to the public and "ministering to one another"—we have the wonderful privilege of serving as an instrument in Jehovah's hand. (Galatians 6:10)

(photo in the 2010 JW Calendar -Sept/Oct)

Ministering to Others
God's Word mentions various ways in which first-century Christians ministered to one another. (Romans 15:25, 26; 2 Timothy 1:16-18) Similarly today, the command to use one's gift in behalf of fellow believers is wholeheartedly carried out by true Christians. Consider some of the ways in which that is being done...

Many brothers spend hours each month preparing meeting parts. At the meetings, when they convey some of the spiritual gems they have found during their Bible study, their insightful words motivate all in the congregation to endure. (1 Timothy 5:17) Numerous brothers and sisters are known for their warmth and compassion toward fellow believers. (Romans 12:15) Some regularly visit those who are depressed and pray with them. (1 Thessalonians 5:14) Others thoughtfully write some heartfelt words of encouragement to fellow Christians who are coping with a trial. Still others kindly help those with physical limitations to attend the congregation meetings. Thousands of Witnesses share in relief work, helping fellow believers rebuild homes that have been struck by disasters. The tender affection and practical assistance rendered by such caring brothers and sisters are all manifestations of "God's undeserved kindness expressed in various ways." (1 Peter 4:11)

The following experience (on pgs 235-236 of the 1997 Yearbook) took place in Micronesia, and really demonstrates the lengths that some of our brothers and sisters have been willing to go to provide *practical* assistance to fellow believers to help them attend meetings, (even in very unconventional ways) lol.

Unusual Ride to the Kingdom Hall
Missionaries throughout Micronesia routinely use their cars or pickup trucks to help people get to meetings, but there is a form of transportation that perhaps only Barak Bowman has tried. When the failing health of a heavyset 70-year-old sister prevented her from walking the two miles [3 km] to the Kingdom Hall, Barak tried to figure out a way to help her. “I would like to pick you up for the meeting,” he said, “but I only have a wheelbarrow that I can use.” To his surprise, she replied, “OK, I don’t mind.”
You can imagine the sight as they rolled along the trail en route to the meeting—also the effort that was required on Barak’s part. He would leave home at 7:00 a.m. with an empty wheelbarrow and arrive back at the hall with our sister aboard just in time for the 9:30 a.m. program.
The zeal of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the ministry and their appreciation for the meetings have yielded good results. In fact, the 1995 Memorial attendance was more than ten times as great as the number of Witnesses in Chuuk!

-on a side note- I was listening to a talk by a brother (who mentioned this particular experience), and he said he met this brother in person during a training class and was surprised to find that he wasn't a very big or strong man, but had a rather small it was his brotherly love and determined effort to help this elderly sister, (not physical strength), that motivated him to do whatever he could to help her get to congregation meetings.