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The Secret Life of Disciples

(Rawpixel, Envato Elements)

"COVID 1," Sunday's number... hmm, not sure.

Although the "virus distance" jargon is new, gathering together as a family for sharing God's Word, insights, and Lord Supper has not been particularly unusual. As strange as it is, running a Christian charity always brings unique challenges for various reasons. Disease, illness, travel, jet lag, or an urgent phone conference with other time zones commonly made us absent from church and provided a basis for us to meet as a two to four-member church.

Our family gatherings resemble an Ad Hoc meeting, none of the Kilian's sing, at least not in front of each other, and we are consistently inconsistent in our approach; we don't even have a defined time. Surprised?... Don't be. We are like most families... Okay, we are a bit different, but we do have one consistency: Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is called Eucharist or Communion by most. It has been the center of disciple gatherings since Christ himself instituted it during a Passover feast. Flip to 1 Corinthians 11. Lord Supper is a time when we focus on the power of God over death. I can write a book on why I prefer the term Lord's Supper, teaching that it's not only a communion but a memorial, a reflection, an examination, participation, and proclamation. But the Bible states, "because there is one loaf, we who are many, are one body for we all partake of the one loaf" (1 Corinthians 10:4). No surprise here! Let me set this up...

If you have ever taken Lord's Supper with me, I usually have something to say, mainly because there is so much to say. One of our church partners from Delaware answered our request for glass Communion cups standard in churches in the U.S. before sanitary plastic. The beauty of the glass is the fact that you reuse them. The ugly part is that you reuse them. We needed them for the growing number of baptized disciples in N. & E. Africa, but we still had another need... trays for the cups and bread. At first, you think, "Just go with the metal trays which hold the cups." Sounds good, but they usually continue to be used with the disposable plastic and, to be frank, seem entirely foreign to churches that meet under Mango trees where a frisbee is valued as a sturdy plate over being tossed. Another problem we had was that whatever would be used to place the glass cups in should be small enough to be transportable and be reproduced with local materials.

Thankfully, a partner from the Inner Banks of North Carolina made such a tray by boring holes in a 1 x 6 board, rounding the edges, and routing out a matching 1x6 to serve as a bread tray when flipped. Wah-lah!

So imagine meeting in a village as the sun sets, no electricity, hymns are sung, and the clapping of hands on the "off-beat" close out a lesson from God's Word, which was shared from memory since you can no longer read as only the white eyes and teeth of those around you are seen. Then you break the bread and pass it on the tray, from disciple to disciple. One is a new disciple, just baptized hours before. Another disciple is one who a decade ago received the death sentence of being HIV positive, yet who is still here. And another from a rival tribe. But yet we are one. And then the cup, the new agreement in the blood of Christ, passes from disciple to disciple, drinking in the new agreement: The Grace of Jesus is the only source of salvation!

Flash Back to home — I break the bread, give thanks, and pass the broken loaf to Thomas, who tears off a piece, Helen does the same, then Sandie and I tear a piece. Here is where I say, "The body of Christ, broken for you, we do this in remembrance of Him." Yet, before I can, I take notice of the absurd amount of the loaf left. The vision of every hand that I have broken bread with flashes before me. "Kuot" from Northern Bahr El Gazel, "Rom and Bithrow" in Ethiopia. David, James, and Ezra from Uganda. Peter and Emmy from Juba, Caleb, and Simon from Kenya. Paul and Deysi from the Netherlands and Ecuador. Volva and Olga from Russia. And there remains still more bread, bread for the rest of the body of Christ who has yet to come.

1 Corinthians 10:4 states, "because there is one loaf, we who are many, are one body for we all partake of the one loaf." ALL is ALL. It continues to say, "The body of Christ, broken for you, all of you, now and all of who is to come." There the absurd amount of unleavened flatbread draped over the tray there before my family as the Holy Spirit whispers in my ear, "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field" (Matthew 9:38). So we asked the Lord for more workers, then we took of the loaf, then the cup, giving thanks for what is to come.

"The secret life of disciples" is the secret that once we die to "self" at baptism, we are also lifted-up with Him to a new life as His disciples (Romans 6 and Matthew 28). The secret is that we now have the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38.) The Holy Spirit is the very being of God Himself. Just as the Father is omnipresent, and the Body of Jesus reaches beyond time and distance, so does the Holy Spirit within us who connects us to other disciples. The same Spirit causes me to wake with tooth pain, reminding me to seek funding for a brother in West Nile who needs a root canal. And the same Spirit who places a brother on my heart to pray for, only to find out that at that very moment, he was going through a rough time. Four days after the request for God to send more workers, I gained word that God had brought yet another strong disciple within our mission in yet another E. Africa community.

"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us." - Deuteronomy 29:29


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Mercy Partners, food aid, famine relief, Africa, blog, Tom Kilian of Mercy Partners writes about the impact of small humanitarian aid efforts and projects
Tom Kilian, Founder


Tom was born in South Amboy, New Jersey, and grew up in North Carolina. At age eighteen he was selected for the scientific expedition, "Operation Raleigh" Australia Expedition 9a 1986 (a project spearheaded by Prince Charles of Wales). He pursued theological studies in Elizabeth City, NC where he had met his wife, Sandie. Being an ordained minister, Kilian preached in churches within three states. He studied art at the College of the Albemarle and held craftsmen jobs. Kilian initially used his creativity to raise awareness about the Darfur Genocide by creating an art exhibit in 2008. His initial ambition was to raise support for a project on the border of Darfur.  

    He created the "Darfur Monument" with the vision that proceeds could be used for funding an orphanage or hospital. Humanitarian groups took an interest, inviting Kilian to partner with them so that the plan could be realized. Kilian took an invitation and traveled to Darfur.     

     While working with Darfur's displaced children, Kilian concluded that education itself is not the solution. A "wholistic" approach that provides spiritual, mental and physical healing coupled with tools for self-sufficiency would be a fit pattern to "change the world one life at a time." In 2010, Kilian redirected his efforts to form the charitable, humanitarian organization, "MERCY PARTNERS" which he is currently the Executive Director of.

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