I bought a church today. It's a building project. And the price was amazing.
There's no parking lot. I'm pretty sure there's not even electricity. No overheads, stage, or sound system. No plaque with a name of dedication. That's all fine with me. The pastor and people there will love it. They presently have nothing. Soon they will have a place to worship and meet together and I'm told they will be overjoyed.
Please don't think I'm some kind of hero. I'm certainly not.
The church costs $50.
I've spent more the that on a sports game, a meal out, or a single piece of clothing. But it is a heck of a lot more satisfying to have purchased a church.
One of the pastors here at the training in India has an amazing story. He grew up in harsh jungle village conditions where his father was basically a witch doctor and he himself came to performing human sacrifices to appease the gods. Human sacrifices...
In this brutal environment he later found himself running in the jungle from a group who wanted to kill him. As he hid in a tree fearing for his life he heard the strangest thing. It was a song...a song about Jesus Christ and what He has done for sinners. This man, whom I call JP, began to realize the depth of his need and pursued the source of the music.
It was a church. A little church in a village. The people fled when he arrived as he was infamous for his violence. But one man bravely stayed - the pastor. He talked with JP and by the end of the conversation the one who had done human sacrifices had repented and was trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on his behalf.
Some years have passed. JP has faced much opposition for his faith. He has also become a pastor. The work has often been hard and discouraging. There has been slander. But there has also been growth and training and some people in a village who have turned to Jesus despite the dangerous persecution. They call JP their pastor. Though they are the real thing when it comes to church, they've needed a place to meet and gather but could not come up with the funds. They want to have a church in the village where people can run to Christ.
Today I bought a church and couldn't be happier about it.
I share this story for two reasons. One is to thank those who have supported this work. This TLI trip plays an important role in training these precious pastors to better understand God, His Word, and to teach these things to others. I was honored to meet JP as he took part in this class. The content and interactions left him very encouraged.
The second reason is to encourage you to continue to support this work. In India TLI partners with Reach All Nations, a fabulous network that trains and sends church planters all across Andhra Pradesh. Through RAN you can provide essential support to pastors like JP.
Pray for these pastors and consider support their work and their training!
You might even be able to buy a church.