Slave Trader

Another Bible study past. It’s really amazing to see how clear the barrier of your own ability can be. Like I said last week, our number of first-time visitors has decreased, and it’s exciting to see a lot of familiar faces every week. My wife told me something tonight after our Bible study, and it’s almost exactly what I was thinking last week. She noticed tonight which visitors tend to return. It’s usually the people that we get an opportunity to make a personal connection with. That’s a pretty solid rule. I think I’ve read that somewhere, too – that the visitors that tend to become regular attenders in a church are the ones that make a friend. For us, I  mean more than a handshake or a hello, but a conversation of five minutes or so, learning a name, seeing someone to the door, etc. 

So, talking about barriers of your own ability – there’s only so many people that my wife and I can make personal connections with every week. But that’s not to say I’m doing all I can. I’m not the most socially outgoing person in the world, and after I finish preaching my heart out, the last thing I feel like doing is having a conversation with a stranger. But it brings people back for more preaching. But even at maximum efficiency, I just can’t be everyone’s buddy. Enter the leaders. Somehow we have to help them understand the importance of this. By a little exertion, they can make some people come back for more.  

Man, so many stories. I wish I could put a video camera in every room and record everything that happens one week. It’d help me a lot, and I’d love to let you all see and hear.  

We’ve got this guy – I’ve written about him before – named T. He is a great guy, really developing an interest in becoming a pastor. He kicks off our second meeting, and even though he’s been pretty nervous both times, he loves doing it. In fact, I’m not sure anyone enjoys our Bible study as much as he does. He just sits there and smiles like a goof for the whole hour! My wife said that in “the blue room” (cleverly named after its wall color), where we have some snacks after the service, he was just standing there grinning and swaying happily. When I came in, he was ranting about how great the Bible study is to a bunch of girls. He’s falling in love with the Bible and can’t get enough of hearing it preached and taught. Great guy to have around; I really pray that God will use him greatly.  

Another guy I’ve mentioned before, Jn., who comes, well… religiously (unfortunately), is actually a Buddhist. Didn’t know that until yesterday. But he comes, helps out, sits on the front row, volunteers for anything, and brought a friend tonight. One of these nights he’s gotta figure out that when I say “only Jesus can save from sin,” that I don’t mean “Jesus and Buddha can both save from sin.”  

Wow, I think I used every Chinese word I know tonight! The tank was Sahara-dry by the end of the second service. I’m pretty sure the only person who didn’t understand 90% tonight was the Korean girl who doesn’t speak English or Chinese. I’m sorry – I don’t even know what to do about that. Last week we talked about David giving up the perfect opportunity to kill Saul… twice. And that sometimes the perfect opportunity is an opportunity to sin. And then was this week’s lesson… I didn’t even know where to start – David with the Philistines. I’d never been able to figure out what this is all about, and I was supposed to teach it tonight! 

But I noticed how, after David goes to Philistia, he calls himself the king of Gath’s servant. And the king says in turn that David will be his servant forever. There it is – whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. It’s a story about a servant switching masters. David sinned in a moment of weakness, and now he is the servant of sin, with no way out. Like all decent people, he tries to cover it with good works, but attempts to fix things with God are strangely absent until he almost has to fight against his own country, his family gets abducted and his men are ready to kill him. 

We talked about the fact that every man is a servant, either of sin or or the Savior. My wife’s language teacher picked up a Bible a while back and started laughing because Paul said he was the servant of Jesus. I guess she pictured Jesus as some rich guy in a bathrobe with a butler named Paul. But Paul had just figured out that whereas sin is a terrible master, Jesus is a wonderful master, and offers to buy us out of sin’s slavery. Some people don’t want to become Christians because they don’t want to serve and obey Jesus. But they’re already a servant. Their master just treats them badly.

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