What Makes a Loving Church?
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VIII. What Makes a Loving Church?
by Bill Hunt
Mary and I experienced loving prayer communities that strongly modeled the Christian love similar to the early churches in Acts. The Lord assigned our little family to the "City of Brotherly Love," Philadelphia. He brought us into community with two powerful prayer groups.
Meeting in a student lounge at one university, a group of more than a hundred students gathered for weekly prayer. Young godly leaders with a great sense of Christian community coordinated this prayer group. The youthfulness of these students in worship, prayer, and love expressed exuberance. People of all ages attended the group.
A neighboring prayer group of some two hundred people meeting in nearby suburbia, also flowed in like prayer, worship, and love. It is apparent the depth of love between brothers and sisters in a Christian body becomes the necessary climate for the deep works of the Holy Spirit.
We saw that God blessed these bodes with powerful prayer, deep scriptural teaching, and sensitive love. More than that, the members displayed sacrificial concern for the well-being and needs of each other.
As a result, Mary and I sprouted in the garden of spiritual life like tiny new green sprigs. We learned the precious blessings of God's love can overcome the trials in life. We underwent financial, employment, and pregnancy challenges. Each time, the prayer groups locked arms with us and poured forth amazing love.
Disaster struck. My wife and I returned from a week long Thanksgiving vacation. Mary traveled the long drive suffering the flu as well as enduring her pregnancy condition. She was miserable. She couldn't wait to arrive home to her own soft, comfortable bed.
As we finally drove up to our house in the trees, everything appeared normal. But when we opened the door to our home, terror struck our hearts. It was raining inside the house! Unbelievable! Strange! Peculiar!
Everywhere, water was dripping heavily from the ceiling. The house was soaked, the furniture was soaked, the clothes in the closets were soaked.
It looked as if a demon from hell raided our house!
I called the repairmen. They discovered our furnace supported a humidifier automatic control valve which malfunctioned. The humidifier continued pumping water into the atmosphere of the two-story house the whole week long we were absent.
Prayer group friends came to our rescue and hosted us overnight. Next day, we dried out the house, dried off the furniture, and dried up the clothes. A certain husband tried to do a lot of talking to reassure his pregnant wife.
As cool weather approached, being a country girl from Upstate New York, my wife somewhat fretted about the clothes of her growing children while we lived on Philadelphia's exclusive Main Line. One day a lady from the prayer group delivered three green garbage bags she said contained "used clothes." Her own two daughters outgrew them, she said, but these would likely now fit our two young daughters, Monica and Emily.
Looking at the garbage bags, Mary waited for her husband to return home from work before she emptied them out on the living room carpet. She dumped the bags, looked, and she gasped! Then, she started going through them like it was Christmas morning!
The clothes actually arrived in store mint condition, three piles of clothes for her two little daughters! Beautiful matching dresses. White gloves. Assorted play clothes. And two beautiful navy blue fall coats with gold buttons. Even son Brian received a tough pair of play blue jeans.
As a husband, I just sat pleased watching my wife's delight, amazed at God's gift to my family. I asked one major question in my heart, though.
"If God can take care of all our needs so well, why do we fear?"
I noticed a few prevalent qualities that shone like stars through the night in these two loving prayer communities.
1. Servant-Leadership. “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (NIV: Matt. 20:26).
2. True Worship. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
3. Active Love. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35).
4. Inspired Preaching. “How blessed is the feet of those who bring good news” (Rom. 10: 15).
5. Holy Spirit Presence. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7).
6. Individual Freedom. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17).
7. Holiness. “...without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
(#8 True Story in series, Life is 100 Million Miracles.)
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What a gorgeous, normal story in which your family joyfully accepted the gifts which had been given to you! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Sincerely Veronica
I loved active love, actions are so important in times of trouble. Wonderful article!
Great story, Bill. I love the following verses for prayer groups and partners. Matthew 18:19-20 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”