Today we celebrate the union of Yamikani and Nondumiso, or, Boti Karni and Sesi Miso…as our congregation in Mbhokota Village affectionately refers to them. The word “boti” means “brother” in Tsonga and the word “sesi” means “sister”. Ironically, this means that this wedding ceremony today is not the formation of their first relationship together. God forged a relationship between these two some years ago. It was not a union in marriage. It was a union with Christ.
FAMILY BY BLOOD
For some years now they have referred to each other as brother and sister. This didn’t come come through family blood but through Jesus’ blood. This has not always been the case.
The Bible teaches that no one is born in the family of God but only in the family of His greatest enemy, Satan. Paul calls unbelievers “children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:3) and Jesus calls unbelievers children of their father the Devil (Jn. 8:44). No one is born a Christian, the way Muslims say they are born a Muslim or the way a boy is born a prince into a royal family or the way a girl may be born a princess because her father is a king.
Karni was born a Katunga and Miso was born a Hlela, but no one is born a Christian, even if they are born into a Christian family. Being born to Christian parents does not make you a Christian any more than being born the child of a World Cup winner makes you a soccer star.
What this means is that salvation is really a transfer of families. When a sinner turns from his sin in repentance and looks to Jesus in hope and faith, not only does God instantly give him eternal life and the Holy Spirit, but God also becomes his Father. God makes him one of his children. For this reason Scripture uses the idea of adoption to explain how people are saved. They move from one family, a family of darkness, misery and sin, and into another family, a family of light, joy and righteousness. John says: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (Jn. 1:12). Continue reading
A few weeks back I sent out an update letter regarding ten ethical dilemmas we are facing. Here’s how I would answer them.
- On adulterous church members living as neighbors – Though I strongly encouraged Sally to find living quarters elsewhere, her deep poverty would not allow this. She lives with her two small children in a 8’ x 12’ room on about $100 a month. I then implored her to break off all forms of communication with Ruth’s husband, not enter Ruth’s yard, and follow the biblical rules of seeking forgiveness. Its been difficult, but she has followed this advice and comes faithfully to church every Sunday.
- On providing for your family v. your church – No pastor wants to leave his flock, but the situation of Pastor Lawrence in Zimbabwe was getting desperate. He should find another piece of property and forget about the government’s promise for reimbursement of his home that was demolished. Soon after, the police forced all men, women and children in the camp to sit outside in the sun from morning till night. Day after day they sat. His wife was beaten severely. Thanks to generous donors, Lawrence is building a new homestead.
- On US funds for a building – Third-world believers have difficulty learning hard work, frugality, and planning when foreigners buy them a new church building. To the charge that says such people don’t have a building to meet in, I say, neither did the NT church. To the charge that it will take them years, perhaps decades, to save enough for a adequate building, I say it is valid to give only enough so that their legs don’t buckle, not so they can relax.
- On watered-down forms of marriage – In order for Kojo to marry his girlfriend according to Genesis 2:24, he needs to declare before others his commitment to her according to Genesis 2:23. Whether surrounded by bowties and baroque or cattle and clansmen, he must make a public commitment. If not, Kojo must not touch her.
- On partaking of stolen items – St. Paul actually talked about this, but the item under discussion was idol food not Coke Zero. Unless I know for sure that the soda was stolen, I should enjoy it to the last drop (1 Cor. 10:27-28).
- On exorbitant mission trips – I would strongly discourage foolish use of funds such as mission trips that spend more on plane tickets that double the structure they are building. If the goal is to help financially, just send the money. This would make the money go farther and encourage the people to do the labor on their own. If the goal is to “experience” the field yourself, rather spend the day studying the language, being in people’s homes, and evangelizing.
- On attending risqué cultural events – When they give me the opportunity to preach, I attend such affairs but use the time when men are gawking to shake hands and meet with the community. The event is such that my character would not be in jeopardy simply for attending.
- On HIV testing – I believe the Gospels and 1 Corinthians 7 makes divorce and remarriage a valid option for Maria. But there is also value in striving to make the marriage work. In the meantime, the Golden Rule demands—for the sake of her children and others—that she get tested for HIV. Maria did so and was negative.
- On single moms – I’ve previously posted on this.
- On dealing with bandits – The villagers don’t respect those who are soft with thieves. “The prudent sees danger and hides himself” (Pr. 27:12), and that might mean in the bushes with a baseball bat. Protecting hearth and home is a good thing (1 Tim. 5:3-5).