By Ranjana, India
My Church Was Becoming Increasingly Desolate
I am an Indian Christian. In 2007, I began to believe in the Lord because of an illness, and afterward, my condition gradually improved. In order to repay the Lord’s love, I started spreadingto people around me. Several years later, locally, a church was established and I took on various aspects of the church’s ministerial work with our pastor. At that time, the pastor also opened up a drug rehabilitation center and preached the gospel to drug addicts, many of whom believed in the Lord and went to the church. Gradually, the pastor spent much of his time in the drug rehabilitation center and didn’t focus on shepherding the brothers and sisters or resolving their states. Later on, I discovered that the pastor had already been in charge of all the money of the drug rehabilitation center and that he hadn’t kept any accounts, causing brothers and sisters to argue about this and to be suspicious with each other. From then on, our church gradually fell into desolation. The pastor focused only on preaching about donation; his sermons were always the same old staff that lacked illumination, and could not move brothers and sisters; he just read some verses and talked about his own literal interpretations and paid no attention to preaching the Lord’s word, so brothers and sisters couldn’t get sustenance and fewer and fewer of them were coming to gatherings. He had no choice but to invite pastors from other churches to preach sermons, but they too preached on the same old things and spoke of theological theory, and thus many brothers and sisters still did not attend gatherings. Not only that, the pastor participated in political activities and ran for office and even lent the church’s money to the believers to earn interest. As a result, when the church demanded repayment of debts from the believers who failed to pay back the money, they even didn’t go to the church because of their inability to pay debts. Faced with this kind of situation in the church, I prayed and fasted but it was to no avail. Seeing that the church was becoming increasingly desolate, I had no desire to go there. I simply stayed at home where I prayed and read the scriptures by myself. My faith was gradually whittled away and later I began to be busy with my work.
My Elder Sister’s Changes Got Me to Reflect on My Actions
At the end of 2017, I saw that my elder sister attended online gatherings, and although sometimes I heard her fellowshiping with her brothers and sisters, I had no inclination to ask what she had fellowshiped about because I had become so busy with my work. One day, when I saw my elder sister attending a meeting and fellowshiping with her brothers and sisters, I suddenly felt unease and couldn’t help but recall the story of Martha and Mary. I thought to myself, “My sister often quiets before God like Mary did, attend gatherings and read God’s words every day, while I’m caught up in various affairs, busy with doing things instead of paying attention to listening to God’s words like Martha. So how could I gain God’s approval?” Thinking of this made me very upset. I told myself that I could no longer go on like this—I had to attend gatherings.
One day, I asked my elder sister to drive me to the church but she said to me, “Don’t go to the church. There are too many arguments and suspicions between brothers and sisters. Our church has already become desolate and is without the work of the Holy Spirit.” Hearing this, I didn’t agree with her. I felt confused and thought, “Why did my sister tell me not to go to the church? Our church is indeed desolate now, but the closer to this time the more we should keep going to the church. Generally speaking, believers in the Lord always encourage people to go to church, but why did she say that we don’t need to go there after she has had online meetings with several believers? Have they told some message to her?” I couldn’t help remembering some verses, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Why if they shall say to you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (Matthew 24:24–26). The scriptures said false Christs would appear in the last days to deceive people. My sister hadn’t gone to the church for gatherings, so was she deceived? Thinking this, I felt a little worried about her. But due to her bad temper, I didn’t dare talk with her about that and I planned to secretly observe her in the following days.
After some time, I found that my sister had changed a great deal. In the past, she had no idea how to pray, was uninterested in God’s words, and was preoccupied with her business. But after attending online gatherings, she wasn’t so busy with her business as before but took her belief in God to heart, came to know how to pray and enjoy communicating God’s words, and even discussed the Bible with me. Seeing her changes, my worry melted away. I felt that there must be something different about her meetings, so I thought, “Maybe I should go to listen?” Remembering the scriptures related to the wise virgins and foolish virgins, I began to think: Once I was a church leader, but I was never like my sister, who was so desirous to have meetings and fellowship and who had the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Although I persisted in reading the Bible, I didn’t gain any enlightenment and illumination. If I continued like this, my spirit would become ever more withered. So, I decided to attend one of my sister’s gatherings.
I Was Both Pleasantly Surprised and Confused When Hearing the News of the Lord’s Return
At the first meeting, a sister fellowshiped about the situation in churches, saying, “Every church is empty and desolate. The conditions of every one of us who believe in the Lord have been deteriorating. The pastors sermonize about nothing but stale truisms and there is no enjoyment in listening to them. After some time, some believers leave the church. Others don’t leave, but they can’t put the Lord’s word into practice in their lives. They fight and squabble amongst themselves, and some of them wrap themselves up with mundane affairs, lusting after wealth and fleshly enjoyment—they live in sin without thinking it is sin. … Nowadays, the extent of people’s corruption is far beyond that of the time of Noah. Also, countries all over the world constantly go to war against each other; disasters are occurring frequently around the world. All kinds of signs remind us that the time of the Lord’s return has already arrived. Sister, what do you think about the Lord’s return?”
After hearing this, I didn’t answer at once but thought to myself, “The Bible says, ‘But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of thebe. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matthew 24:37–39). ‘For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows’ (Matthew 24:7–8). Comparing this with reality, I see that our church has become increasingly desolate, that the pastor is obsessed with money, and that the believers argue about money. We are all living in sin. Besides, worldly trends are becoming more and more evil, which causes people to become increasingly promiscuous and corrupt, sick of the truth and uninterested in believing in God. This is as in the days of Noah. Moreover, various disasters, such as wars, earthquakes, and diseases occur frequently and blood moons are now appearing regularly. All this fulfills the prophecies in the Bible. The Lord indeed has returned.”
Seeing that I was not speaking, the sister then asked, “Do you believe the Lord has returned?”
I told her, “Yes, I do.”
She said with a smile, “Today I want to tell you this good news. The, whom we have yearned for, has now returned as the incarnated Almighty God. He expresses the truth, does His work of judgment beginning with God’s family, reveals the mysteries in Revelation and brings us the path of attaining complete …” Hearing this news, I felt both excited and happy. The Lord said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2–3). Every one of us who believes in the Lord is waiting for the Lord’s return. Just when we are unable to feel His presence and can’t see any way out of the situation no matter how we pray, the Lord has come. This is our hope! However, I was a little worried because the scriptures said false Christs would appear in the last days to deceive people. So was what the sister said true? But thinking of my elder sister’s changes, I thought it was better to listen more. In order to seek understanding of the question, I decided to attend their meetings and continue to investigate more.
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