By Anna Khoo
By the grace of God, it has been
more than 30 years since the first MANNA appeared to nourish those of us who
are only able to read English publications. Over time, many brethren have
labored to provide different ingredients and flavors—new columns, Bible study
and doctrinal study articles—to ensure that our church’s flagship magazine
meets the different needs of different readers.
A New Feature
Apart from providing spiritual
nourishment, a key function for MANNA is to connect our readers with the
church’s global ministry. To complement personal reflections by workers out in
the fields, we shall provide regular information on International Assembly’s
(IA) activities as well as its key decisions and resolutions.
A New Danger
This issue’s focus on ‘Calamity’ has
prompted contributions on the slew of headline-making terrors, both natural
disasters and man-made uproars. These articles are a critical reminder to
remain vigilant in our faith, set the right priorities in life and be equipped
to fight a victorious spiritual battle for the Lord.
Disasters may harm us physically but
they have little to do with our salvation. More disastrous are the spiritual
dangers that can harm our faith, and lead us away from eternal grace. Ironically,
we are often unaware of such dangers, and thus fail to defend ourselves against
them. While we face different threats as individuals, a huge threat to the
church is the distortion of the truth, an assault on its very foundation.
Jude’s exhortation to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once and for
all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) is timely and apt. In the end time, new
but unbiblical interpretations will arise. As members of the True Jesus Church,
we must not be swayed by these, no matter how attractive or convincing these
may be. We urgently need to remain faithful to the teachings that have been
entrusted to us.
Staying faithful to the truth
requires deep-rootedness in the word of God because in a world of relentless
change, only the word of God abides (1 Pet 1:24–25). When He was tempted, Jesus
rebutted Satan with the word of God. Note how Satan knows and quotes the
Scriptures! If we are not equipped with God’s word, how can we possibly fend
off Satan’s ploys? The subtle twisting of God’s words, convincingly delivered
by charismatic speakers—these are real threats which can erode the pure faith
that we received from the Lord. If we are not careful, we will end up
propagating man’s teaching instead of God’s word. In so doing, not only do we
destroy our own faith, we take others down with us. This will indeed be a
calamity like no other.
Standing firm ourselves is not
enough. The second imperative for us is to pass on this pure faith to our next
generation. Hence, training our youths to be capable future stewards of the
church and faithful servants of the Lord is crucial. Failure to do so will be
yet another calamity for the church.
Recognizing the importance of this,
IA conducted its first Youth Symposium this year to stir up the youths’ love
for God and their zeal to serve Him. However, the local churches have to
continue with such an initiative to nurture the youths. It takes time and
effort to cultivate Joshuas, Daniels and Timothys who can withstand the tide of
secularism, be ready to take over the baton to fight a victorious spiritual
battle for the Lord, and become valuable vessels of God. There is not a moment
to lose so we must start now.
A New Resolution
In summary, real calamities are not
the threats to our bodies but to our faith. So we need to take a serious look
at our spiritual health. Are we facing spiritual calamities? Do we still
worship God ‘in spirit and in truth’, or are we just offering lukewarm service,
and are no longer loyal to the ‘pattern of sound words’?
We may be able to weather this
danger but what about the next generation? How much attention do we give to our
youths—the future of the church? Are we nurturing and guiding them in the right
Do not be self-contented, but let us