“Look for people who believe in you, trust you and loyal to you. When I started this, I jot down all the friends I have including those that are in my family circle. At first I got around 30 names, on this lists I found 8 people who believe in me, trust me and loyal to me. The second thing I realize is that these 8 people that I pick out are younger than me. And this is very important, because there is fathering and mothering your next generation.”
“Do you mean, my child?”
“Yes. She’s the first one on your list, your next generation.”
We pause for a moment and she said to herself. “It’s just around me.”
“You are the light, a lamp. ‘No one light’s a lamp and put it under the table,’ Jesus said, ‘but put it on the top of the table so that everyone in the house will have light.’ It goes around your house then to your neighbors around.”
Not for long, I realizes our conversation is somehow didn’t make sense to her. I stopped.
Helen is a single mother. She was brought along at my house with her 3 year old daughter with our common friend Annie and with our mother in the Lord we call “Mommy or Mama Sunny.” Mama is 81 years old, we knew each other for 20 years, right from beginning when I started my journey as a Christian. Annie who was with her is another daughter “in the Lord” that she started to journey together in her walk with Christ. Two of them has been a family with us, they just come here anytime they want, have meals together, coffee, tea and of course – talk. This time, they brought with her Helen, a 29 year old woman, working in the company where Annie work as a tutorial teacher.
Based on Helen’s story, “Annie is a sort of ‘weird’ person, ‘different’ as I see her. She would write a verse on a board and let us read and ask, “What does this mean?” Who knows?” She sings alone and smile, and encourages us to enjoy life in spite of it’s struggles. She is different and we became friends. I liked her.”
This is a lifestyle that demands questions!
Listening to Helen’s story and background, I interrupted with a question: “So Helen, do you consider yourself a follower of Jesus?”
“Yes, since I was a child. My parents are Roman Catholics and I grew up with them, going to church…you know. We serve God differently in our own ways.”
“Yah, in ‘our own ways’ not ‘His ways.’ We serve God as if He needed anything.”
“What do you mean?”
“We do things our way in order to please Him. No, it’s the other way around. He has His ways for you and me to please Him, not your way. Not by our own opinion, but His. Imagine Helen, there are 40,000 denominations in the whole world, not only how lucky you are to be in the right place but each of them have their ‘own way’ of serving God. There is only “His way” of pleasing Him. Alright, let’s get to the point.”
“Do you know that God has already saved you?”
“Yes, I know that He died on the cross for my sin.”
“What if you die tonight, are you going to be with Him in heaven?”
“No, I am not sure of that.” She said.
“That is what I mean when I ask you, ‘Are you a follower of Jesus?’”
She is curious of these things as you can see, she looks at me in the eye with the eagerness to hear what I am going to say next.
“You know that Christ died for you and that you say that you believe that but somehow you’re not sure that if you’re going to die tonight you do not know where you are going. Do you know where you’re belief came from? It came from man’s opinion. See, God is the King, do you remember on the cross where one of the thief says, “Remember me when you come into Your Kingdom?”
“Yes.” She nodded.
“That means, the thief believes that Jesus has a Kingdom and that He is The King in His Kingdom, right?”
“Well, the King has a constitution, He has a command. And in His Kingdom, man’s opinion is not invited. If you do your way of serving Him, that is your opinion, your idea, you think God is pleased by having ‘your own way’ you are ignoring His commands, and not only that you are ignoring Him as King! It is a sin to have our own opinion in His Kingdom, why? Because what matters in His Kingdom is only His opinion, not ours. It is His way, not our way.
“Your belief – you know that Christ died for you, you think you are a follower of Jesus yet you do not know for sure if you’re going to follow all the way to heaven – is from tradition, from human perspective, from any idea of someone’s head. We only believe God based on our belief about God. There is no difference with other people around you. What’s lacking is relationship. I know our President Noynoy Aquino but does he knows me? No, because we have no relationship. same as God – everybody knows Him, but does God knows them?”
“So, what do you mean is God is the one who will give me that faith to know Him?”
“How? Where I should I get that kind of faith?” She inquired.
“Faith from God itself came from hearing by the Word of God, just like now – I am talking to you the Word of God.”
“That means, God is using you as an instrument for me to hear His voice?”
“Yes, if you do not mind.” I smiled.
She paused for awhile, “I have to absorb everything I am hearing tonight. It’s my first time to met you and hear this.”
“Sorry about this Helen, you have been with Mama Sunny and your friend Annie, and mostly you are curious enough to be prepared for these things. Somewhere, not for long you have to make such decision in your life….” In the middle of my sentence she stops me and said, “No, it’s not that. I mean, I do not know my feelings now, …” This time you can see that somethings stirrings inside of her.
Mama Sunny talks like she is, a mother. She keeps leaning on Helen’s left shoulder, spitting out verses upon verses from the Bible. It’s funny because every time I quote some verses like, “Epehsians 1:4, God choose you before the foundation of the earth…” Helen’s looks at Mama with a shock, “Mommy, that’s what we just talk about today at your house!” They spend some time at Mommy’s house then before coming together here. Helen lives about 3 km from Mommy’s house. Most mommy’s friends and extended family that she reach out meets at her house and then for 5 Sunday’s now they all come together at my house for a tea and dinner and of course – talk.
Annie’s words as well is confirming to Helen’s situation. “I felt and see that God is doing something in your heart right now Helen.” She said comfortingly. Helen’s face shows somethings that disturbing her.
“What are your thoughts Helen? Do you think that you have to go to church now and do all the rituals like in Roman Catholic that you have to go through Rosary or do procession? Doin’ all the work related to following Christ?”
“No, it’s not that. I thought of the consequences.” She replied.
“What do you mean by ‘consequences?’
“Someone told me,” she explain wearing her sad countenance, “that to follow Jesus one has to go through a ‘narrow gate.’ I wonder what kind of suffering was that.”
“You have already enough consequences Helen. You have raised your daughter alone.”
“Yah, I easily get discourage with problems you know.” She honestly told everyone.
“Also, a person who has ‘hang ups’ in life has to go through a ‘narrow gate’ to enter heaven.”
“Ah, I see, I get it!” She exclaimed.
“What’s the difference between the disciples of Jesus who can just ‘leave everything’ to follow Jesus but not the ‘rich young ruler?’ Remember the story?” She knows the story, she has been with Mommy Sunny and Annie long enough – they’ve already done some relational discipleship.
“Either you are ‘in’ the Kingdom or ‘out,’” I continued, “everybody suffers, the only difference is – is Christ in you or not?”
“Yah.” Annie replied.
“Helen,” I ask. “God loves you. Christ paid the penalty of what you did already 2,000 years ago. Sorry to say, that there is nothing you can do that can make God love you more. Nothing you can do that can make God love you less. I am telling you this so that God you will believe – you are already saved.”
“So that God’s salvation for you would take effect, what is your response to what He has done for you?”
She keeps silent….
“Now that Christ died for your sin,” I explained to her more, “what will you do with your sin? Should you continue sinning?”
“What should I do with it?” She ask.
“Repent from it Helen. Leave your sin. From facing sin, you go ‘about’ face facing God now and walk closer to Him. A lot of people do ‘confession’ in a parish church every Sunday, yet the next day they go back sinning. They did not ‘walk’ closer to God and finally be far away from sin.”
She just nodded her head as she listens intently. This time I have to take a sip of my coffee – it’s cold already!
“Now you get it! Next response to do for what God has done for you is is to go through baptism.”
“Hmnnn…..” with a grin face she response.
“Sin made you a dead person. Sin kills that’s why Jesus died for it. The wages of it is death. You are dead Helen. Sorry to tell you that now.” I am always pretty serious when I tell people they are dead because they have to get it. “If you want to follow Jesus Helen, He will kill you.” I pause for awhile….
This time her face wonders…..
“The life that you know from childhood until this time is done Helen. You cannot live with yourself anymore. Isn’t that Good News?! You will never be alone anymore Helen.”
“Whatever do you mean by ‘baptism and dead?’”
“You were dead in your trespasses, and because of that you cannot have access with God. When the two of communicate just like now, we communicate through our flesh right? When you die and you be in a coffin, and I approach you and tried talking to you, “Hi Helen, how are you inside there?” Can you respond back? No, why? because your flesh is dead. We cannot communicate. In the same way, God is Spirit, and He will communicate to your spirit. But your spirit is dead and so He cannot communicate to you. But by now, you are hearing the voice of God inside you through our conversation, somehow God is working through you at this very moment. That’s why you’re good at responding. But did you get what I mean? A person who is dead must be buried soon or else he be stinky!
“Helen, if it is day light right now I could have taken you to the nearby sea here and dunk you in! So either now or tomorrow, in less 24 hours you need to go through baptism or else you be stinky.”
She sits long enough to think about this quite hardly. “I am willing to follow Him but it’s hard to understand these things. What should I do?”
“Because it’s ‘new’ Helen, that’s why. Don’t try to understand because you cannot. Until your ‘old self’ with it’s sin, your ‘own way’ be buried you cannot understand these things. I cannot continue explaining to you these things. How can a dead person understand the things of the Kingdom?”
“After baptism, what now? What will happen to me?”
“You will have new life Helen, and your journey with Christ together with us starts. You will be a part of our extended family. We will all be a part of you.”
You can see that she likes that. 🙂
I intentionally get out of the conversation to let a person think about it. My sisters with their husbands and kids are with us under the mango tree preparing dinner for us all. While around 15 kids played on my hut, I check them out for awhile, check my wife too while she’s cooking some soup fish and a half kilo of friend onions with some soy and oyster sauce. Smells yummy! It makes me hungry!
About 10 minutes we have discuss the things above. I went back with them, Annie exclaimed, “Molong, Helen wants to be baptize!”
“Oh, ok let’s see.” Thinkin’ where are we going to do that since past 7 in the evening. “Let’s fill up the kids pool with water then while we will eat dinner.” I said. I called out Albert to help me prepare the ‘baptism pool.’
Helen smiled. Showing her happy face.
We all ate together under the mango tree with everyone. “Hey guys, Helen will be a part of us, let’s welcome her and soon enough we will baptize her.”
Mommy Sunny has full of stories to tell while everyone enjoy eating their food. Many laughs happening around the table. After our meals, the pool is full of water. Annie ask, “Are you going to baptize her?”
“Nope, you! She has been your friend anyway and she was blessed by your life in your workplace. So, you should do it.”
“I wonder how? Should I let her do ‘sinner’s prayer?’ That’s the way I did before.”
“Well, let me ask you a question. If we want making disciples can be simple enough to let Helen make other disciples. And if you have to pray like the way you did it before. Is that an ‘easy’ prayer or ‘complicated?’ Would Helen can do it by herself with you?”
“Nope. It’s complicated. We even have to pray and fast for 10 days and memorize some verses before we are allowed to baptize someone.” Annie came from another denomination who’s quite the same with others. Only a ‘name’ makes the different.
“Annie, when I join a house church summit one time, I ask a question. “How to make disciples?” They say, ‘preach the Gospel,’ blah blah blah and baptize the person.’
“How do you baptize the person?” I ask them. Their answer was vague quoting verses.
“Don’t tell me you have to baptize the person, I know that. Don’t quote me verses of it, I know that. But tell me, how do you baptize the person?”
“Whatever do you mean Molong” these leaders ask frankly.
“Well, is it sprinkling or dunking, more water or hot water, cold water or vinegar water, what kind of water? Sea water? Pool? Should you preach a doctrine of baptism to him first? Should you sing? Should the person wears while shirt? Should he pray? How? Because ‘how’ are you going to do that determines ‘how’ the next generation do it to their next generation!
“If your way of making disciples is complicated, then you are the very reason why Jesus Christ doesn’t come yet!”
Annie get’s it.
“One more thing Annie. How does Jesus disciples baptizes people? How does Stephen baptizes the Eunuch?”
“Quick,” she replied, “not even a prayer at all.”
“I didn’t mean we should do these Annie,” if you feel led to do it, do it, but do them in a simplest way that Helen can do it simply as well. Later, you can discuss more about baptism, you keep your relationships with her. No need to hurry.”
Helen sits on the chair and said, “I am not in a hurry.” We all smiled.
“Maybe my wife can back you up and Mommy can pray?”
As soon as Mommy heard that, she just blurts out a prayer. You know, a motherly ‘long’ prayer of thanking God. She was prompt also to sing a song. We did. Certainly for two years we’re dunking people in the water it’s our first time to sing a song while baptizing someone. We did.
Annie and my wife baptizes Helen then, and while Mommy prayed. Helen burst into tears.
“Why is it I would like to cry. I don’t want to. But I cannot stop. So I cried. But I am happy, something good I felt.” She said this after baptism.
It’s 8.45 in the evening.
This is our story, what’s yours anyway?