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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Prelude to Profound Change

Returning to Canada from Dominica in November of 1978, we found a house to rent in Honeywood, Ontario and the nearest assembly of Christians that we knew of was in Collingwood, about a 30 minute drive to the north of us. We wanted to observe how this assembly functioned and were not in a hurry to be “received into fellowship”. We waited a few months before asking to be received into the assembly, but the Christians there immediately received us into their hearts and their homes! They wouldn’t hear of us driving home after the morning meeting and having to return again for the evening Gospel meeting! Instead, we were always invited to someone’s home for Sunday dinner, to spend the afternoon and for supper before the evening meeting! Never in our lives had we experienced such warm and generous hospitality as these dear saints showed to us from the start.

While still in Dominica, we learned that these assemblies would not receive any professed believer to break bread with them, but rather would only receive to the assembly those who would also receive the assembly and all it stood for. Thus there was a place in each hall for observers, not yet regarded as being in assembly fellowship, to observe but not to participate in the Lord’s Supper. So we sat in what was called “the seat of the unlearned” for some time as we observed how this assembly functioned.

Seeing that there seemed to be no clergyman leading and directing the meetings and that all the brothers in the assembly had liberty to participate we felt that we had finally found an assembly which functioned according to the scriptures. Thus we eventually asked to be received into the fellowship of this assembly. After we had been interviewed by the elders, the assembly received us and we began breaking bread with them and I began taking part in the meetings which included opportunities to teach and preach.

Here, I participated in an entirely new practice of ministry that was such a contrast to my former experience. Here I was free to minister along side of other brothers but none of us had any “office” or position over the other! I was simply one of the brothers who had opportunity to minister, as it were, “on a level playing field”. I had no idea at the time what a personal hindrance my assumed title “Reverend” or my esteemed position as “Pastor” had actually been to me. But the Lord was preparing me for the most radical challenge and change of my life!

He would use this entirely new experience of co-operative ministry and also a brave young lady in this same gathering to show me something in myself with which I’d never come to grips before.

Sorry! In order to keep this post to a reasonable length, this will have to suffice for today and be the prelude to the one to follow!.....(To be continued.)

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