The word “church” is discussed often during our Bible study in Ankazotsara. When we first started about 4 months ago the definition of church varied with each person attending. Almost everyone associated with either Catholicism or Lutheran traditions to define church. After four months of study in Acts the group is in agreement that the church is a group of followers of Jesus that often met in homes for praise, prayer, and study of the Word.
Our group is a mix of unbelievers and followers of Jesus. We even have non-believers coming faithfully every week to hear the gospel and learn about the first church. Some have critiqued that it is odd to entertain the unbelievers in our group as we are trying to move towards church. The comment reminded me of when we lived in Raleigh and attended Journey.
We finally attended a “Starting Point” class; its a welcome and orientation meeting to newcomers at Journey. During our meeting each person shared their story about how they ended up at Journey. My FAVORITE part of this meeting was a guy who sat across from Anna and I and told the group, straight-faced, he was comparing religions, felt welcome and comfortable at Journey and wanted to make Journey the place where he could compare the other religions. I liked this part of the meeting so much because that guy would have been stoned like Stephen at most SBC churches I have attended, yet the leadership at Journey welcomed him to Journey and encouraged him to come as often as he wanted. The leaders at Journey had confidence that Truth from the Word would prevail in his life.
Already Truth is permeating the hearts and minds of some of the believers in AKZ. They are feeling the imperative of Acts 1:8 calling them to go. Romano and Low-low have been talking about a village east of Ankazotsara that needs to hear the gospel. They keep asking when we are going. Shame on me that we have not gone yet. Expect to hear soon about our journey to this new village to meet the king and a potential new group of people who might move towards church.