Connected and Valued
by Rod Jolly, Melbourne Labouring Community, first published in Compass Winter 2021 edition.
God made us to live in community. Hebrews 10:25 says it so clearly, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
A healthy community helps us to feel connected and valued. We feel at home and content when community is working at its best.
Rita and I have been so encouraged when newcomers to our group say how much they have enjoyed being there and meeting the others. Dong is one who came along to a Karaoke night celebrating the birthday of one of the group. Karaoke is a natural context for Asians to connect and make new friends (and show off their skill or lack of skill in singing). He felt right at home as most of the group where fellow Asians and this happened to be the sort of activity he really enjoyed.
Dong was more than happy to join our group the following Saturday night for our regular community gathering. It includes a potluck dinner where people are relaxed and enjoy catching up and getting to know others. As the dinner finished, we went around the room sharing one thing we were thankful for from the last week. Many of the Christians in the group would attribute to God the things they were thankful for. This helps set the mood to move into some Bible input and the discussion topic for the night.
These discussions were not teaching time but rather a time where each person had the opportunity to think through the passage and express what they discovered. The night would also often include some worship and prayer.
One night as I was driving Dong home, he commented that this was the sort of community that he was searching for. He has a naturally outgoing personality and enjoys people. But he mentioned that when he went out with his friends, he was left feeling lonely at the end of the night. Our group was the first time he didn’t feel lonely.
In the weeks that followed Dong was happy to join me in studying the Bible through the Understanding Christian Beliefs study booklet.
By the end of the study, Dong had reached a better understanding of who Jesus is and what He did and why He died and rose again. He also had better understanding of what Jesus offered him regarding forgiveness of sin and the offer of eternal life.
I believe that God had been preparing Dong for his commitment to Jesus both through seeing the body of Christ in community and what the Holy Spirit had revealed to him as we studied the Word together.
Over the months that followed, we gave him opportunities to lead the Bible discovery discussion time. This built his confidence as it didn’t require him to rely on a deep understanding of the scriptures, just gleaning what was in the passage at hand and how it could apply to our lives.
We have had the joy and privilege of seeing Dong become a disciple and more recently a labourer in the Kingdom. He now co-leads his own group with two other members of our group.
Matthew 9:38 “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”