Living together in fellowship
Being kind and helping people in spite of being treated unjustly by them is not only possible, but it is also an aspect of this year’s motto. District Apostle Edy Isnugroho of Indonesia explains.
The Chief Apostle mentioned that one level of our motto “Together in Christ” is living together in fellowship. Some of our brothers and sisters in a certain region in my working area who come from the majority religion and converted to the New Apostolic faith often experience unjust treatment from society. Among other things they are harassed by people who believe they have supernatural powers. They experience difficulty managing their residence documents, they are no longer entitled to parental inheritance, and once they die they are not allowed to be buried in a public cemetery in their village.
The members in the congregation in Bali, Indonesia, also experienced this. When it was founded in 1985, the small congregation consisted of a few poor families from low castes. On the one hand, the injustice they experienced forced our brothers and sisters to move closer together and help one another in congregational and in daily life. Three decades passed before the head of a family began to have success in the business of trading vegetables. Another family also had success in running a small business. These successful people now help our youth from poor families to pay for their studies. The Church also helps with scholarships. Most of the young people here can now get a college education.
The injustice our brothers and sisters experienced encouraged them to help others. Among other things they have made real efforts to improve their villages and raise the standard of living of the population by promoting tourism so that local and foreign tourists are attracted to the village. Society now sees the change in our brothers and sisters and recognizes their efforts. They now acknowledge them as Christians who are dedicated to worship and who love to do good to others in accordance with Christ’s teachings.
One sister from the province of Lampung on the island of Sumatra left the majority religion about thirty years ago and became New Apostolic having married a member of our Church. Her marriage was blessed with three children. The family lived a simple and happy life and farmed for a living. The children grew into adults and one by one they got married. The whole family was active in the congregation.
Then the husband died and not long after two of her children also died. After the death of her husband and her two children, our sister’s life took a drastic turn. The crop yields were bad and she fell into poverty. She needed help to feed her family. Members in the congregation helped her so that she could sell clothes in her village and earn her livelihood.
Then her siblings came and said that her misfortune and suffering were due to her having left her former religion. They urged her to return to her former religion offering to help her in daily life and promising her a share of her parents’ estate. But our sister refused. She chose to remain New Apostolic and explained why. She told them that she has kind brothers and sisters in faith who care for her without expecting anything. She told them that she believes in a glorious future with God in His kingdom and that she will meet her husband and her children again, as well as all the other loved ones who have died.
Several other brothers and sisters have told similar stories. They confess that they have obtained the strength to remain faithful to the Lord and grow in faith from living together in fellowship because their brothers and sisters in faith were able to understand them and sympathised with them. How beautiful these words are: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12: 15).