Grace, peace and love to you in Christ Jesus our Lord! “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18, ESV)
Today was a full and wondrous day of worship here in Central Asia. In the morning we worshipped at Immanuel Bible Church, the church plant pastored by Alexander K. Twenty-six people have come to faith and been baptized in the last three years. This church was planted on the grounds of a Bible institute, and is a daughter church of Calvary Bible Church (largest Baptist church in the area).
We also celebrated the 90th anniversary of Alpha Omega church, a church that endured under great persecution under the years of communism, a church that continued on in proclaiming biblical Truth even when it put the congregation at risk; it continues to this day to make disciples of Jesus Christ. At an evening service in mid-August Nikolai K., leader of the Baptist Union in this area in the 1970s, shared these important words: Let us not ever take for granted the privilege of preaching God’s Word and praying for God’s church.
Roughly translated, Nikolai exhorted…
“If we can stand here and recount the history of this church, it is because old men and women prayed for the church. And God alone built this church — or any church. Today in Almaty we have 10 churches. This is only from God, only God, and the people prayed. Some people were killed, some placed in prison, but the church continued on. In the past our kids could not come to church, some parents could not come to church, but now they can because of God and the prayers of faithful saints. During Soviet times we did not have the opportunity for many preachers. The government even controlled who could preach in the church.
“Today there is great opportunity and freedom, but at times we do not appreciate this opportunity. We must remember, we must pray, we must preach. Before we had no such opportunity, but now we must not take for granted that we can now preach freely. We can testify about Jesus in our lives to a sinful world.
“Now by God’s grace alone we can testify to our hope. Also, do not take this for granted. It is God’s grace. It does not matter what language or what culture. We are one church, one family. The apostle Paul said he was unworthy of the grace given to him, and we must understand we, too, are unworthy, and it is God who takes bad, terrible and sinful people and makes His church everywhere and with all peoples.”
Let us never take lightly the grace of God in Christ Jesus nor the privilege of proclaiming His Truth among all the peoples of the world. We run such a great risk in America of seeing preaching as a mere component of a worship service rather than a privilege to proclaim His Truth before the saints. And as Nikolai raised his Bible he said, “And it is this book that we preach!”
May we never shrink back from the open declaration of the life-saving and life-changing Word of God.