THE BARKADAS OF JESUS

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The third apostle we met on our trip to the Philippines was Molong Nacua (pronounced naquah). I met Molong on the internet whilst surfing for house churches in the Philippines. His writings connected with my spirit and we finished up spending 5 wonderful days with him and his wife Lisa and their extended family on the Central Philippines island of Cebu.

The story of Molong (or as he says, ‘Long’ for short) is one of a gradual journey through traditional style church (youth pastor, worship leader) to traditional style homechurch (doing the same but in a house) to a less structured homechurch (but still based on attending a weekly meeting), to his current passion, simply building a company of disciples for Jesus.  While we were with him he coined the phrase ‘The Barkadas of Jesus’ to describe them – a barkada being a wonderful Filipino word referring to a company of friends joined in a common bond of friendship and loyalty. No set meeting times or programs but what he refers to as a life of ‘intention – relational discipleship’, mainly based on reading the Bible, learning to listen to the Spirit and learning how to disciple a friend for Jesus. We did a lot of listening and talking while we were with him but the highlight of our visit was an unintentional demonstration of the ‘barkada’.

It happened when a young recently graduated high school student, Jommie, turned up with his friend Julian, who he had recently invited to become a disciple of Jesus. Jommie had been discipled two months earlier, beginning with the same invitation, by Albert, who had been discipled by Molong. Albert had baptised Jommie the Saturday before we arrived  and now Jommie was ready to baptise Julian.

So we headed down to the sea to baptise him. Two days later however, the three boys turn up at Molong’s house with a new friend, Louey Dan, a not-yet-believer who they were working on. Over lunch the Gospel was explained to Louey Dan and an invitation given to become a disciple of Jesus. He was ready, having observed his young friends for some time. An hour later Julian, baptised only two days earlier, was praying over his friend as he baptised him into Christ.

Later, as we celebrated over Dunkin Donuts, I took the opportunity to quiz the members of this growing Barkada of Jesus about what they had done and how deep was their grasp of the Gospel. Each man impressed me with his grasp of repentance and faith, one of the most articulate being Louey Dan.  We finished our donuts and the boys hung around for a meal with Molong and Lisa and then headed home.

And three days later we headed back home ourselves, back to our own nation of Australia with a whole new understanding of what Jesus meant when He simply said (my paraphrase),

“Go and preach the Gospel, making disciples, baptising them and teaching them to obey me. And lo I am with you to the end … every day, not mainly on Sundays, not mainly in your meetings, not mainly via the Pastor, but moment by moment, day by day, until I come again.”

You can catch up with Molong’s writings at the new blogsite we are building together, The Barkadas of Jesus.  It’s still in in the building stage but you might like to bookmark it.  But be warned. It could change your thinking about the nature of church.

Here’s a Youtube of the new barkada.

Steve Apirana at Palmfest ’09

For the past 2 months I’ve been busy preparing for this year’s PALMFEST – the Yeppoon Palm Sunday Festival. It’s on April 5 starting at 2.30pm at the Yeppoon Beachfront stage. If anyone wants to find out more about it they can go to www.yeppoonpalmfest.wordpress.com

Here’s a preview of one of the main artists on stage this year, Steve Apirana.

CHRISTMAS WITH ATTITUDE!

Christmas stars

We’d just finished watching a musical rendition of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol during which Gideon (a thoughtful 5 year old grandson) solemnly explained that “all this will happen to Scrooge if he doesn’t change his attitude”. I’d never heard him use the word ‘attitude’ before and it was both amusing and encouraging to hear him say it. After all ‘attitude’ is bigger than just a word. It defines a person (as Dickens’ tale so aptly portrays) and has a huge affect on their life and circumstances.

Paul says, “Let this attitude be in you that was also in Christ Jesus …” I imagine Jesus to be a person who loved festivals and occasions. No “Bah, humbug” would have come from him. So, instead of spending my time criticising the way Christmas is handled by the shops and the TV I’m going to make it my own and celebrate Christmas with ‘attitude’ – the right kind. Have a happy one and may we all walk in God’s favour and rich blessing in the coming year.

An Army of Ordinary People

prison-trolleys.jpgI’ve just got back today from my annual government-paid trip to Brisbane for the Queensland Prison Chaplains’ In-Service Training. I’m tired from listening and heavy from eating but inspired to go in to the prison for another year. And blessed to have mixed for a few days with a small army (about 100 of us) of very ordinary people, regarded by some in the prison as just one rung up from the guys wearing brown, but dedicated and inspired by even the smallest ray of hope in an inmates eyes.

And what’s so bad about brown? It’s the colour of the earth, the dirt that is trodden but which God once gathered into a heap and breathed life into – a man in His own image, a work that has not finished but is daily reproduced in our prisons.

There’s a great thing happening in our prisons. Most people have no knowledge of it. God is raising men and women from the refuse heap and preparing them to be released into our society as true servant leaders. They probabably won’t feel comfortable in our churches or our lounge rooms though so God may have to do some work on the church before we can benefit from the life they will release among us.

I thank God for taking me into prison each week. And I thank God for the ordinary people that go in with me.

Honey I’ve blown up the Blogsite!

Well, after going without a church website for nine months or more I’ve given up on it and decided to meld it all into a new combined blogsite/website. Goodbye Blogger and hello WordPress. For convenience sake I’ve linked it to our old address, ‘backyardbelievers.com’.  I’ve started to rewrite a lot of the stuff in the pages so take a browse. Hope you enjoy the new look.