This Sunday promises to be a very special time for Community Church! Several things will be going on and hopefully they'll remind us that our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, is Lord over all the nations. First is the preaching of God's Word from 1 Peter 5:10-14. This final lesson in our 1 Peter series will show us that even though believers around the world have always and are still suffering (5:9), our gracious and powerful God is sufficient to complete our salvation all the way to eternal glory! Secondly, we will be joined with brothers and sisters from Iglesia Christo roca de Salvacion. Within that congregation are believers from Mexico, El Salvador, and other Latin American countries. In addition, we'll see a video report from Trace Donahoo and Michael Davis over in Culcheth, England. And lastly, we will pray for and send Darrin Nold and me to Bangladesh for a two week missions trip to visit with Rev. Edward Ayub and others in the Presbyterian Church of Bangladesh. We will literally leave just before the end of the service after the congregation prays for us. Truly, Jesus reigns in every nation and among every people. Let's pray that His glory will be on display here at Community this Sunday.
Some of you may wonder ... "why are Burt and Darrin going to Bangladesh?" Great question ... there are certainly other more desirable vacation spots in the world. But this isn't any vacation, it's our participation in a formal partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Bangladesh (PCB). We often hear the word "partnership" thrown around in conversations about ministry, especially regarding missions. We often reduce "partnership" to mean financial support and an occasional prayer. And please don't think I'm in any way minimizing prayer and the generous financial support that people give ... both are very necessary. But real partnering in ministry must involve relationship and the partnership we have with the PCB means we will welcome our Bangladesh friends here at CPC and we will also travel there to enjoy their hospitality. It means we will meet many new people in the PCB; it means we will visit their works and see first hand what God is doing in their midst; it means we will share with them our own lives, stories, and encouragement; it means we will assist them as we can in the teaching and training of fellow believers; it means we will hold them accountable and they will hold us accountable to be faithful to the Gospel; it means we will both suffer and rejoice with them. We will be flying into Dhaka, a city of 15 million people (10th largest city in the world; NYC has between 8 and 9 million) and the population density is unbelievable ... up 4,210 per acre, or 2.7 million per square mile.
Obviously the physical needs in such a place are overwhelming. But the spiritual needs are even greater. It is a land engulfed in darkness and death. Yet the light of the Gospel is there and shining bright in the Presbyterian Church of Bangladesh and in the lives of folks such as Edward Ayub. Their commitment is to be the "visible" church in that culture. No hiding, no pretending, no deception, no half commitment to Jesus yet still allowing non-Christian practices. To profess the name of Jesus in Bangladesh actually means something. Pray for Darrin and me, that we would gain a much greater understanding of what it means to be a Christian, to profess His name, to live out the Gospel in a culture that opposes it, and to taste of God's grace in new ways we don't even know how to anticipate. And pray that whatever happens to us there will be most contagious and that God will use it to bless Community Church upon our return! And please also pray for our wives and families while we're gone. We'll be fine and will be treated as special guests ... our families will still have to work and maintain the daily grind of life here in Alabama.