God's work in times of rejoicing -- and tragedy

The Dinangat church is growing-- not only in numbers, but through opportunities to reach out to others with the love of Christ.

As a symbol of what has already occurred in their hearts since they trusted Christ as Saviour, 17 Dinangat believers recently obeyed the Lord and were baptized.

“It was wonderful,” missionary Gary Smith says. “Some of the people who got baptised have very interesting backgrounds. One used to believe strongly in sorcery. Another has an unbelieving husband who finally gave his consent for his wife to be baptised. One lives most of the time in the jungle and also was part of a cult. Several were in their teens or early 20s.”

And each new believer comes with a unique story of how God has transformed their life.

Gary rejoiced greatly to see these believers obey their Lord in baptism. And he delights in another aspect of this baptism service, too. Gary had “the extreme privilege of baptising one of my own children, Zachary.”

The service was an enormous encouragement to members of the Dinangat church who stood around to watch.

“We sensed a genuine unity amongst the believers,” Gary writes. “It was wonderful! Is there anything better than this?”

But, as is often the case, Satan was already plotting to steal the joy and triumph of this baptism service. The next night, at about midnight, Gary and his wife, Esther, were awakened to the terrifying sound of bamboo exploding into flames. Then they heard shouts that a house was on fire and they ran to the village.

Once there, they couldn’t believe the scene before them—a house completely engulfed in flames. And the house belonged to the man who had finally given his wife permission to be baptized. Every earthly possession, except the clothes on their backs, was lost in the fire. By God’s grace, the family was away at the time so no one was hurt. No one knows how the fire started, but everyone is shocked by the sudden and total loss.

Gary and Esther see this seeming tragedy as a wonderful chance for the Dinangat church to shower a shocked and needy family with love and care and provision. It is a great opportunity for God to pour His love through the compassion of believers. Yet they know, too, that there is potential in this situation for suspicion, accusation and division.

You can stop right now and pray for the 17 new Dinangat believers and especially for this family who has lost all their material belongings. Pray that God will fill the hearts of His people with love and generosity to reach out in kindness that will clearly demonstrate the love of Christ and build the Dinangat church stronger than ever in love and unity.