This was the second week that we met for church in the burned out church building. We still aren’t sure what caused the middle of the night fire, but all in all, the believers are handling it very well. It was really hard for everyone to see the building mostly destroyed, especially since so much work and time went into the original building. They did try to find out if somebody had started the fire on purpose, but everyone was accounted for that night. In the past, there would have been some sort of divination to try and find out who they thought did it, with a mock court session held using the magic as evidence, and a punishment often including a stiff beating. We were glad to see that instead of anger, there was only sadness at the loss. Though the last two weeks haven’t been easy, the maturing Mibu church has found encouragement in what they have learned from God’s word.
Some wondered if this was an “Act of God”, or if He might be angry about something, and let or caused this to happen. The wonderful thing is that it is other Mibu Christians who have corrected this type of thinking, reminding people that God’s wrath was appeased through Christ’s work on the cross. We backed them up in this, but are so proud of those who would not doubt God’s word in the face of a hardship.
After the church meeting, we opened it up for discussion about the burned building. Different men stood to address the village. They addressed many of the concerns that had been floating around. Even some of the usually hesitant ladies added some thoughts. Yoonare (mother of 9) said, “God allowed this for the purpose of strengthening us, like it says in Romans 5:3-4.” What an encouragement to us, even over the distraction of crying babies during church, they are not only understanding, but learning to apply the Bible to everyday life!
Her son-in-law stood later and gave this beautiful illustration. “As sinners we stand in the blazing sun of God’s wrath, but as believers we are in the shadow of Jesus.”
In His shadow,
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia