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 (Manna 64: Dealing with Calamities)
Manna 64 Editorial: Dealing with Calamities
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By Anna Khoo

Dear Reader,

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 things?

Do not be self-contented, but let us contend earnestly.

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Author: Anna Khoo