My eyes were spilling before Leme even started talking, just clicking through the pictures from this past weekend.
I had a friend in college who erred on the side of dramatic, and I can still picture her waving her hands and asking in her bold sing-songy voice, “WHOOOOO DOES THAT!!??”
It’s what I picture now, as I look through images of Leme, Phida, Nosebin, Jopnel and Levy, hiking over hills and through rivers, staying in a hut (and I use that word generously) all weekend, preaching and worshiping and studying and sharing the gospel in a little tent-church (and I’m using that term generously, too.)
I think of how far they travelled, I think of the many hours they all worked last week and are working this week. I think of the homework they have, the duties they fulfill, the much needed weekend last weekend was for them…and I think of why Phida’s face, in chapel Monday morning, was puffy and exhausted instead.
It was Jopnel, second-year student in the white (far left) who Borden was brought to. This summer, while he was home in Pilat, a man from Borden came to him.
“I hear there is a person here in Pilat who is studying the Bible,” the man started, “and I don’t know if you know about Borden, but the church has been utterly forgotten. Maybe you could remember it?”
He tells Jopnel how many many years ago there was a group of missionaries who came there, told everyone about Jesus, started a tiny church of new believers…and left.
Jopnel went with him that day, and discovered a tiny, worn-out group of infant believers, unled, undiscipled, untrained.
As soon as he got back to Emmaus three weeks ago, he started talking about the church, and this past weekend he took Nosebin (2nd year), Phida (staff), Leme (staff) and Levy (2nd year) with him.
This man in blue is Jacson. One of the original believers and the director of a school in a village not far off, he can read.
Therefore, he has been the one leading this little church week by week, just reading his well-worn Bible, doing better than anyone else could have, illiterate.
“Jacson is intensely aware,” Leme told me this morning, “that he is entirely ill-equipped. He feels SO ill-equipped that he won’t do marriages or baptisms or even offer communion, but he has done the best he can, and his love for the Lord and the people was apparent. He is a true believer…just with NO training!”
The other church member who can read is Selamour, 18, and though he is still in high school, he leads “Sunday School” by reading Scripture to the even smaller group who gathers before the main service.
So, Sunday morning, Emmaus finally met the forgotten church of Borden.
“The first thing I shared with them when I ducked into the tent,” Leme shared with me, “was that they have never been forgotten, not by the One they meet with, not by the One they meet for.”
Think with me for a moment, with me, about this past Sunday.
Maybe you were in church, maybe you weren’t. Maybe you were worshipping in a huge building, or a small building, or someone’s home. Maybe there was coffee and donuts. Maybe there was a sermon series. Maybe there was a video.
Think about the last 10 Sundays, the last 100.
When you’ve been worshipping, wherever and however you’ve been worshipping, this church has been, too.
Best they can.
I’m American enough to know that this may all look rather sad.
But I hope you see instead a determined, beautiful version of faithful.
With very little money, with very little equipment, with very little knowledge, with very little training, with very little capacity,
Every. Sunday. this. church. has. been. churching.
praying. listening to the Bible. singing. encouraging each other. faithfully.
Who does that??
They have never been forgotten.
But now we know.
And Levy, Leme, Phida, Nosebin, Jopnel, they took the tap-tap to Limbay, then the motorcycle to Pilat, then the other motorcycle to Borden, then hiked the 30 minutes to get there. This Sunday, Emamus sent them and fed them for a whopping $30.47 cents. This Sunday they prayed with and worshipped alongside and preached the Gospel and sat with the people and encouraged them. This Sunday Emmaus reminded the Forgotten Church that they are not.
And it was so good.
“But they need forming, they need training, they need discipleship SO BADLY,” Leme emphasized over and over. It’s not that they don’t know God, for they are trying with all that they have. But it is that they need HELP. And Jacson and Selamour have been so faithful, giving all that they have. But they need training. My heart, from the weekend, is to get there one weekend a month with our students to do communion, to come alongside, to show by example, to get to know the people, to encourage them.
“But more,” Leme continued, “My heart is to get Selamour and Jacson under our wings and get them TRAINED. Get them discipleship materials and show them how to do evangelism and pour all that we’ve got into them, because no matter how often we can go, they live there, and they are committed, and they want MORE.”
This is the church, church.
Pray with us for her. Pick someone out in this picture, tape it to your fridge and pray for them every day. Give them a name, any name, God knows, and pray for them as you live life alongside.
And THIS is why I am excited enough about what God is doing at Emmaus to pour out all we are in her midst.
because EXACTLY what the church needs is EXACTLY what Emmaus DOES.
Who DOES that? EBS does that.