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 (Manna 85: TJC at 100 – Towards the Triumphant Church)
The Power of Zealous Prayers in the African Ministry
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Editor’s note: As we reflect on how far God has brought us over the past century, we are compelled to look at how far we still have to go. The True Jesus Church is firmly established in many countries across the world, but we must continue to push forward to preach to the ends of the earth. Just as in the early days of the church, the ministers and volunteers undertaking this pioneering work are blessed with God’s abiding grace and power in their ministry. Through prayer, the workers are able to preach boldly, labor tirelessly, and rely wholeheartedly on God in all things. And those who hear accept the truth with joy and simplicity of heart. Here, three Africa ministry volunteers share their experiences.


Charmian Chong—London, UK

Date of trip: December 2016

Countries visited: Ghana and Togo

I truly thank God for the opportunity to visit the churches in Ghana and Togo. Our time in Ghana was primarily spent helping with the student spiritual convocation and other pastoral work. In Togo, we also evangelized and participated in visitations. From these experiences, I could truly appreciate the truth that God has given to His church.

I travelled with a sister from my local church and a UK preacher. Most of the time, we were accompanied by two local brothers (one of whom has now been ordained as a full-time minister) and another preacher.

Impossible without Prayer

Without prayer, we would not have been able to carry out any holy work. One of our tasks was to help with the National Student Spiritual Convocation (NSSC). A few weeks before the trip, I was assigned two topics to teach the thirteen-to-seventeen-year-olds across twelve lessons. It usually takes me one to two weeks to prepare just one religious education (RE) lesson, so this assignment was daunting. Thank God, through my prayers, He guided me in my preparations.

Because I typically teach sixteen-to-seventeen-year-olds in my local church, I tailored my NSSC lessons towards this age group. On the first day, I realized that nearly eighty percent of the students were in their early teens. Understandably, they became extremely restless in that first lesson; my lesson plans were designed for the wrong age group! In the short ten-minute break between lessons, I had to rethink my whole approach. I remember feeling useless and out of my depth—I did not know how to teach my students. How would I get through to them? I had no choice but to pray and completely rely on God.

I truly thank God. He not only helped the students to miraculously settle down, but He also put His words into my heart to share with them. Teachings I had learned long ago, from personal experiences, Bible studies, fellowships and sermons came to mind, as though planted by God. I could no longer fully follow my lesson plans, but I could fully rely on God. It was as though God had been preparing me all along so that I could teach His children. All glory to God, this truly was His mercy.

When we carry out holy work, it is important to prepare. However, there is more to it than just practical preparation. God wants us to lead a life where we are always ready to do the work. God prepares us through our daily communication with Him as we pray, read the Bible, attend worship services and fellowships, and sing hymns, reflecting upon the teachings within them. Jesus promises us:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (Jn 14:26)

We only need to rely on the Holy Spirit, and He will guide us in our service. God will work in and through us in His own way.

The Spirit of Evangelism in the Local Brethren

The local members’ hearts were very simple when it came to preaching the gospel. During one of our long drives, we needed to buy some charcoal on the roadside. One of the brothers took out an evangelistic leaflet and started preaching to the charcoal seller with enthusiasm and conviction. It was evident he truly believed in the doctrines given to the church by God. Because these members really had the heart to preach about Jesus, they took every opportunity to share the gospel of Christ with others.

Many of the people we met were eager to hear what was being shared. We had many in-depth conversations about the biblical doctrines of the church. On hearing such things, members in more developed countries may perceive it to be more difficult to preach at home. Nevertheless, we should have the same enthusiastic heart towards preaching Christ to others. The power and goodness of the truth remain the same no matter where we are.

Complete Heart of Devotion

Thank God, I was able to hear many testimonies of how different brothers and sisters came to the church. Some members had been faithful believers in other denominations. Some had even previously founded their own churches. One brother, who was the founder of a Sabbath-keeping church, shared how he came to know the true gospel. Having heard that there were missionaries from the True Jesus Church, he was eager to meet them, knowing that we also keep the Sabbath. Unfortunately, he was unable to that time. Later, he had another opportunity to meet some True Jesus Church brethren, who then preached the truth to him. He realized that the doctrines he had been following were incomplete. He knew that the truth was found in the True Jesus Church. Because of this, he left his previous church and was baptized into the true church of God.

There are many other testimonies of how brethren forsook their former beliefs and came to accept the truth entrusted to the True Jesus Church. Making such a decision is not easy. It means acknowledging that the teachings they once found security in were incorrect. It means believing that the gospel preached by the True Jesus Church is true, and that the truth has been given to this church alone.

When Jesus called the disciples, He told them: “Do not be afraid” and, “Follow Me” (Lk 5:10, 27). When the disciples heard this, they forsook all and followed Jesus. This was the heart of some of the members we met. They completely submitted their hearts to God. By humbly removing their pride, they let go of their prior beliefs, and opened their hearts to allow the truth of God to enter their lives. Whether we have believed in Jesus for many years or have only just started our journey of faith, God wants us to humbly yield our hearts to Him, to allow the truth of God to guide us.

Personal Faith Lessons

One of the most important teachings reinforced by my Africa ministry experience is that the True Jesus Church is the true church of God. Witnessing the gospel being preached to both individuals and groups every day, I came to appreciate how simple and pure the gospel is. For longtime believers, it can be easy to take the truth for granted. On this trip, I saw the word of God in action, being used as a sword to bring others to Christ. The preachers and workers fought against the incorrect teachings of other denominations, rightly dividing the word of truth. Africa is not the only place where we can experience this. We can also experience the power of the word in our daily lives. All we need is faith and the power of the Holy Spirit to boldly use the word of truth!

One brother told me: “The True Jesus Church does not give me anything, except the truth. And that is why I’m still here.” This brother is not very well-off financially. What he sought after was not material gain, but the truth of God. Praise God, after being baptized for only about eight years, this brother has dedicated himself as a full-time minister for the church in Ghana. He has truly experienced the goodness of the truth in the church of God. This brother is one of many who shared their testimonies of how they simply believed in the truth.

The apostle Paul writes: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16a). My time in Africa allowed me to witness members living out this verse in their lives—forsaking their old ways and coming to the truth, and using the truth as a sword to cast down incorrect beliefs.

Barry Chiang—Vancouver, Canada

Date of trip: June 15 to July 16, 2017

Countries visited: Malawi and Zambia

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I testify of the grace I received during the Africa missionary trip I joined last year. From June to July 2017, I accompanied Preacher FF Chong and Preacher Tony Kuo to Malawi and Zambia. God taught and inspired me in many ways on this trip, particularly with regards to prayer.

Rivers of Living Water

Every day during the trip, we prayed an hour each morning and evening. In Zambia, two local brothers joined us to assist with the holy work. One of them later testified that, through these twice-daily prayers, he finally learned what it means to pray in tongues. During one prayer, fully submitting to God, he told Him, “Lord, I cannot do this on my own. Please take full control.” Then the Holy Spirit filled him and he felt much power and joy, as if there were sweetness in his mouth! Previously, he would only pray for the sake of praying, but now, he finally understood the importance of praying in the Spirit. Even after an hour of prayer, he did not want to stop.

Often, we take praying in tongues for granted. We may not always feel peace and joy in our prayers. It would be unfortunate to receive the Holy Spirit, but fail to experience the promise of “rivers of living water” flowing from our hearts (Jn 7:38–39). We definitely can experience this joy today. We just need to remember the joy of first receiving the Holy Spirit, and yield entirely to God, allowing Him to do His wonders.

Fervent Prayers of the Brethren

One thing that I witnessed was our African brethren’s fervent spirit of prayer. We visited a certain church to assist with the holy work, and the brothers and sisters there were devoted to prayer. There is a very distinct difference in the spiritual strength of this church.

We were staying in a brother’s house. On the first morning, he arose at 4 a.m. to pray. Initially, I did not think much of it, as many African brethren wake up in the early hours of the day. But he prayed continuously, and only stopped after an hour. Most of us would not wake up that early to pray, much less pray for that long.

He was not the only member with this zeal, as the whole church was fervent in prayer. During our hour-long morning prayers, some members, including youths, would come into the house to pray with us voluntarily. During our last evening prayer of the trip, many members prayed with us. Even young children joined! I was so touched, as even though they could not stay awake for the entire prayer they were willing to join us to pray. Adults, youths and children alike, all had the heart to pray.

Transforming Power of Prayer

This spirit and fervency in prayer transformed the church there. We could see the members’ zeal and thirst for the word of God. During lessons, even sisters, who usually had chores to do, would sit and listen. We were astonished by the local workers’ in-depth understanding of the Bible.

Sometimes we underestimate the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. We pray, but we may not fully believe or allow the Holy Spirit to transform us. We can learn an important lesson from this church. Frequent and sincere prayers are transformative.

Thank God for this missionary trip and the bountiful teachings I received. Taking inspiration from the spirit of our African brothers and sisters, let us strive to be diligent in our prayers. If we do, we will experience God’s transforming power as well. For our God who works in Africa will surely work in our hearts and in each local church.

 

Aimee Lin—London, UK

Date of trip: September 15 to October 1, 2016

Country visited: Kenya

The Holy Spirit Transforms a Person’s Heart

We often feel that certain people are so stuck in their ways that it would be difficult for them to change. In these situations, we can only rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to move hearts, so that they can return to the Lord.

During the missionary trip to Kenya in 2016, we visited many churches. One day, we visited a sister in the Siaya area who had not come to church for about six months. When we first prayed—standing up because of limited space—the sister was praying so quietly that we could not hear her voice. After the prayer, the preacher asked her if she had received the Holy Spirit. She answered yes, but the local worker said otherwise. From the moment we had arrived, this sister was cold and unresponsive. We could see her pride and unwillingness to receive encouragement. However, by the power of the Holy Spirit, her attitude gradually softened as she became more willing to listen.

After the concluding prayer, the sister cried. She confessed that she was not walking according to the will of God, and had repented in prayer. She had asked God to help her and remove the burden in her heart. She then requested we pray again, this time kneeling down. Struggling to find space to kneel, we squeezed close together and prayed again. Thank God that this sister received the Holy Spirit and started to speak in tongues during this prayer.

I was really touched by this miracle. If not by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is nearly impossible for a person to change. In the short space of one hour, this sister transformed from a proud person, far from God, to a humble, repentant soul yearning to draw near to Him.

 

Date of trip: November 11, 2017 to January 1, 2018

Country visited: Zambia

I Can Do All Things through Christ

One of the most important things I learned in Africa is that I am only able to serve God by His power.

On December 10, 2017, we left Kaoma (western province of Zambia) and travelled to Chamboli, Kitwe for the National Student Spiritual Convocation (NSSC). There was no direct coach, so we had to travel for seven hours to Lusaka before catching another coach to Chamboli. The final eight-hour leg of our journey was interrupted at 9 p.m. We were only forty-five minutes from Chamboli, but it was illegal for the coach to operate after this hour. For the entire day, the five of us had only one packet of biscuits to share between us. There were no toilet facilities on the coach, so we tried not to drink too much water. The coach was packed, but we could not open the window as it was raining outside. Tired, hungry, thirsty, hot, and bothered by mosquitoes, we waited another eight hours before the coach was allowed to move again, at around 5 a.m.

We had travelled for nearly twenty-four hours without much food, water or sleep. Yet, as soon as we arrived, we had to conduct morning prayers and commence our NSSC lessons. I was assigned to teach the under-eighteen class for the entire day. I felt so tired that morning. I wished I could somehow get out of teaching the class. Knowing it was my duty, I struggled internally until the morning prayer session, when I shared Psalm 121 with the students: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps 121:1–2). I was encouraged by this passage. Yes, I was tired, but God is my Helper. Yes, I was weak, but God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor 12:9).

After the sharing, we knelt down to pray. The students were so zealous in their prayers and the sound was so powerful. I asked God for help and strength, saying, “Lord, I can’t do this by myself, as I’m so tired. But I know You are almighty; only through Your help will I be able to do this.” Then I felt the Holy Spirit empower me.

Thank God, I was able to deliver three lessons before lunch without feeling tired that day. This experience reminded me that when we serve God, we rely not on our own power or strength, but on that of God. We may face various difficulties and suffering in our service, but we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens [us]” (Phil 4:13). Amen.

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Author: AMC Volunteers
Publisher: True Jesus Church
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