The work of the foundation brought us into contact with a poor family in an outlying part of of the city. The Smiths were an older couple who had seven adult children, five of them living at home.
They showed an interest in the Word and we made frequent visits there to share more. Over time a number of the family members made commitments and we began to have times in their home on Sundays.
As most of the “old timer” sharers had left our city, we were invited to join in with the little local gathering and brought some of the Smith family with us.
As new folks came to the city, we sat down together to talk about our biblical commonalities and differences. If we were going to work together, it was important to know how we were going to blend our methods and beliefs.
There was a wide spectrum of positions among the few folks in the country. On one end were reformed baby baptizers and on the other end were charismatics who believed that if you didn’t speak in tongues you weren’t saved.
We took a positional statement which was middle of the road and went through it point by point with the other folks in the city. Amazingly there was only one point of disagreement, in the area of future events.
So after discussing everything, we made an agreement that in the founding of a gathering, we would teach the basic truths of Scripture, but would not teach for or against other positions. We also agreed that no one would practice gifts in the gatherings.
This agreement allowed us as charismatic and non-charismatics to work well together for many years and to see a strong and solid fellowship begin.
Later on, some of the newcomers from others were either not informed of this agreement or didn’t accept it and brought in their own teaching. But in the long run all worked out.
As new folks began arriving in our city, we made it a point to get to know them. The two most significant ones in our future were Jul and Han.
Jul, who was English, and I became very good friends, being kindred spirits in spite of our having different positions on gifts. He was an excellent speaker both in English and the local language and a man of clear integrity.
Han was a Korean brother who had a scholarship to study for his doctorate. He was a strong leader with very definite ideas from Korean culture. He also was gifted as an evangelist and had lots of energy.
Since Han could not speak English, when the three of us began to work together, we had to do all of our planning in the local language. This was complicated by Han’s pronunciation. He had a great grasp of the grammar, and a marvelous vocabulary, but his pronunciation was lacking. As a result, in the beginning I could only understand about thirty per cent of what he was saying.
When the three of us began to work together i, there were only two regular attenders: a girl who was a college student, and a middle-aged man, named Burt. Both of these had been in the fellowship for several years. A lot of us had doubts about Burt, but no one could put their finger on any specific evidence to confront him.
There had been a regular stream of visitors and enquirers, people seeking more information about the Word, but none of them ever stayed long. We prayed for guidance in how to rectify the situation and were both surprised and gratified with how God answered, as I will explain next week.
Picture: the boys playing dentist with Nat being the patient.