No Church is an Island
10 Apr 2017
On a unique, ethnically diverse island in the middle of the Indian Ocean there is a new church struggling to get established. The island has a population that is almost 50% Hindu, and large Catholic and Muslim sectors, making for some hard soil to break through when planting a church here. A long-term Pioneers worker living on the island tells us some of the story of this sapling fellowship …
A young man came to our church one Sunday morning and was smiling ear to ear. He had found what he was looking for! He had become a Christian about a year earlier, but quickly discovered that his church did not reflect the Bible in its teaching or practice. So, he began to search the internet for answers. He discovered there were Biblical churches, and through our church web site found us. The problem was, we were about thirty minutes’ drive from his area, and in English … and he really wanted a church in his mother tongue and close to home, so he could invite his family and friends. We began to pray. About a year later, he and some others did some door to door in the suburb next to his own, and one woman recommitted her life to Christ. Her home was used to begin a home group for seekers.
At the same time he began to look around for a building that we could rent for a church. We found one, which we discovered had been used for a church some years back, but had disbanded and they had stopped meeting. The Landlord was favourable – a believer! This was amazing, when many in that area are Hindus and Muslims. As an outcome of some further outreach, we ended up baptizing eight people in the first twelve months, and they along with their children attend the Sunday gathering, and at times the mid-weekly gathering in the home of the first lady. These dear saved ones all came from a nominal Catholic background, but for one, who came from a mixed Muslim and Catholic background.
Thank God for faithful women! The community that the church is planted in is a rough community, with joblessness, alcohol issues, prison terms, and prostitution. Men generally are not responsible for their women or their children. These women are persevering in spite of their men. We are praying for the men and for the gospel to impact their lives. We have also engaged a number of Muslims in the area planting the seed, and asking God to touch these people, so that this church can be their refuge in God too. One night a debate with some Muslims was organised, but we said we didn’t want a big crowd, just a few of them. Their three men became about eight, and after we presented and defended the gospel the debate began to turn into an argument, and got a bit heated. We decided that would be a good time to stop, knowing they had all heard the good news. We have been attempting to follow up some of them, but it is hard reaching these people.
- That the church leaders will persevere with the little flock that God has gathered together.
- That the women will persevere, and that the men will respond in faith and take responsibility for their and their family’s lives.
- That the Muslims in the area will respond to the gospel, follow Jesus and join the church.