I love my new church. I love that I love the brethren because it is an evidence of the new heart I have. I would never truly love these people otherwise. It’s not that they are unloveable at all, it’s just that they aren’t necessarily my style, and I love that. I love God. I love Him for making up the story this way. I’m so grateful that He has seen fit to inform our hearts from His Word on the necessity and need for a local church to submit to and worship with and serve in. I’m thankful that my husband and I are in agreement. I’m thankful that the church we came from Biblically approaches membership and that now they will “pass us off” to our new church. I feel safe. I am safe.
I don’t relay all these things to brag, for many times the journey to now was difficult and a long process. There were tears and arguments, and I certainly sinned and repented continually along the way, but I see God’s grace (his undeserved favor) in our current decision.
The Pastor laughed, “No, in fact, half the church is Baptist, I won’t force you to baptize your babies…”
God give us babies.
Maybe that will be my next blog.
I did much research on churches before moving to Okinawa. It’s a small island and I wondered what would be available. I daydreamed about multicultural congregations and hymns in many languages. It doesn’t hurt to dream.
I would encourage anyone who moves a lot to become adept at breaking down the “what we believe” sections on church websites. If you can’t find that section at all, that’s a problem. They may not inform you enough to pick a church, but they will most certainly tell you enough to rule some out.
Our first round of visits included a larger Baptist Church which could be in anywhere America. We were thankful to have them preaching the gospel but once we found out where we would be living, it was really far. Calvary Chapel, another Baptist Church, and, a Presbyterian Church.
From my “what we believe” research I found that there is a large and seemingly pervasive charismatic culture and presence on this small island. Many “apostles.” My country most likely introduced many of these ideas.
We didn’t ever set out to be “reformed” or “Calvinist” but we do pray consistently to be Biblical Christians. We pray to learn from God’s conversation with us, from His Word. I pray that God always show me the Truth even if it means I am currently wrong. We want to think critically, consider often, continue to pursue, learn, read, study, repent, and believe. We want to be active in the process of Sanctification.
“Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth.” John 17:17
We have met many brothers and sisters and are truly thankful for the churches represented on this island that preach Christ. There is more than one and that is evidence of God’s grace to the island of Okinawa!
We prioritized. What we found is that our top priorities before music style, church size, demographic, small groups, cell groups, Sunday school, pews or chairs, etc. were these:
Do they (Pastor and Elders) rightly divide the Word of God? Do they teach and shepherd? Will we be able to serve there?
Our thought is that our personal tertiary preferences should always be secondary to primary issues; and, if the Word is being accurately taught and submitted to, then it (Word) is capable to sort out all the problems which naturally arise when a group of redeemed sinners gets together.
We also found that though we were not adamant that our church affirm and be founded on the doctrines of grace that those churches that had that foundation naturally taught the Word more accurately, clearly, and authoritatively.
So, once we are both back in the same place at the same time, we will become members of Okinawa Covenant Church, a small Presbyterian (PCA) church on the island and currently the only “reformed” option.
Sola deo Gloria