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Réveille… (Part 8)
Blessings of Our House Church
Church was happening in our home. Those early days in our living room with 5-6 people form a fond memory. They refined our focus on what really was the Lord’s work. Those were the best of times!
As our gatherings grew, our Sunday routine would begin on Saturday. We had to get living room, kitchen and tiny bedrooms ready. The back bathroom became the dog’s meditation room; the bedrooms were now classrooms. After morning Bible study and kids’ classes, it took the afternoon to stack chairs outside and cover them, mop floors, move furniture, and make the house our house again.
When we started having a dozen people in, it felt close. We hadn’t yet visualized what 40, 50, or 100 people would feel like. Eventually, we had to talk about “what’s next.”
It was a time frame when friendships grew deeper roots… the kind that are still in place today. We enjoyed “sobremesa” times which went beyond coffee and small talk. I got comfortable with one-on-one opportunities. I began to suspect less pulpit time and more one-on-one time might be better for everyone.
The list of blessings is long.
I love telling this part. It flies in the face of the pathetic stereotypes we’ve had to put up with regarding people from south of the border.
A few examples:
One of our men showed up one Sunday morning in tears. His home had been robbed… cleaned out. Within 48 hours our folks had him up and running again.
Groceries delivered anonymously where unemployment and hardship had taken a toll.
Christmas turkey dinners (an annual tradition) prepared and delivered to folks who otherwise would have gone without.
Haircut afternoons after Sunday morning Bible study with the proceeds going for missions projects in disadvantaged areas.
Recently, a young mother died of Covid-19, leaving 3 little ones vulnerable… from diapers to food to cash, our folks continue to step in where they can.
Their generosity extended even to us. Linda was born with severe health problems. Week after week, year after year, our house church family was the reason she had good medical care and never went without the expensive meds she always needed.
While Linda languished for 11 days in a coronary ICU is Wisconsin in 2010, people everywhere prayed. And in Cancun, guess who prayed without ceasing? When they unplugged everything on the 11th day, she woke up.
I’m thinking of a dear neighbor I was studying the Bible with… out of nowhere, a major stroke. We would gather in the ICU waiting area, form a circle with the 20-30 of us who showed up and prayed.
Another church family member went through a cancer journey. He survived major surgeries and rounds of chemo. His story was about how the Alamos family prays… in fact, that was often his selling point when inviting others to visit us: “These people will pray for you.”
The first church downtown has used this to spread missions and preaching points to other neighborhoods and towns, including in the interior among the Mayan people. The humblest of folks will count it an honor to open their home and offer everyone a fresh, cold drink. They are honored that you would visit them.
I never felt like I was leading the way by opening our home as our church. With time, it seemed apparent: our strengths were in our “between Sundays” groups.
The earliest evidence was in our Tuesday morning ladies gathering around our table. There was a season when we had them take dictation. The homework was to copy their notes neatly in a notebook, write out the Bible verses we referenced and jot down any questions or comments for the next time. I think we hear better when we have to listen and write… as if there were going to be a test later.
There was a season of using Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a study guide. We found inexpensive paperbacks of a good Spanish translation so everyone could have their own copy.
This group transitioned to another lady’s home. It continues to this day:
While I had discipleship going in a few one-on-one situations, and Bible Institute classes with men from the downtown church, a men’s group emerging from within our house church took a while—and a few failed attempts—before one really came together. But when it finally did… wow!
I don’t think there was any particular reason it happened that way. In fact, the reasons I came up with had more to do with my own shortcomings. It just was what it was.
Forward progress in Gospel work is a bumpy, hilly road with lots of potholes.
It’s been one more reminder of what Winston Churchill used to say: “KBO!” (Keep buggering on!).
One couple saw the need for ministering to other couples. They stuck with it for years… Friday evenings in their home, usually around a meal. The Lord was using them. Even though no one was seeing the future in their tea leaves, this couple’s credibility was building. They are the pastors today of what was our original house church family.
The Little Flock Mentality
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32, ESV)
All of this comes together in the context of “Fear not, little flock.” We are a cell—a microcosm—struggling for survival in an ocean of hostility. It’s Jesus’ little flock vs. the world. But it’s not a psychosis-generating mentality where all we do is muster enough cooperation to circle the wagons and try to fight off the enemy.
Rather, this is Jesus’ little flock. And there’s really nothing little about it! We’re here on a mission—not to merely hold out faithful until the end, but to do our part in extending the Gospel’s influence into every dark corner of the world.
That means lots of focused prayer… lots of real discipleship… lots of leading by example: our courageous going will inspire others to go.
Lots of going…! And our going is a yardstick to measure the genuineness of our conversion and humble obeisance at the foot of the cross on which our Master died.
Here’s a link to the entire “Réveille” series: