John Barth - Visiting Worker to Maroota - 2012

Hymn 351 – God in Heaven Has a Treasure

I labour in New Caledonia. It is east from Brisbane approximately 1500km. The main island is 400km long and 50km wide and there are about 250,000 people. 45% of these are Melanesian, 35% are of European descent, and there is a good proportion of Polynesian and other nationalities. Two couples live there, one from Canada and one from France, and there are two young men who come to the fellowship meeting. I have appreciated very much my time here, and am thankful for all that has happened in the background to make this convention possible. A man in testimony said that he has received more than he thought he could take, and I am thankful for the river of goodness and love that flows out of the sanctuary that makes us all feel that we receive so much. How could we pay it back? It is impossible, but it is my desire to have thankfulness in my heart for all the goodness that comes to us because of the love of God, and His Spirit poured out in the lives of His children.

Before this meeting, I was glad for the quietness and I hope I can share a little. Jesus is alive, though we don’t see Him with our eyes today. His church is the body of Christ, and I thought about how precious that body is. Revelation 1:18, “I am He that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” It is hard for us to grasp that Jesus is alive because we don’t see Him, but He is alive and He is at the side of His Father. Stephen looked up into heaven and saw Jesus standing beside His Father. Matthew 21:22, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” It is really hard to understand how that works, and of course that is when we ask for something that is according to the will of God. Acts 14:3, “Speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” The Lord sent His disciples, and then He gave testimony to their word. It is like He was there supporting them.

Matthew 28:18, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost . . and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Jesus manifested Himself alive after His resurrection. He spoke to Paul after He had been taken into heaven. Acts 9:3, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” John saw Him and fell down in fear. Revelation 1:17, "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, 'Fear not . . I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore.'” Jesus showed Himself alive to His disciples. God sends men and women in their weakness to take the Gospel, and He stands back and guides them. It seems a mystery. Could not the One who is perfect simply have manifested Himself in His glory? By nature we are attracted by what is amazing; maybe if God sent somebody in a marvellous way, there would be a lot of admiration and also a lot of jealousy. But He chose the humble way.

A man in an Asian country was engaged to a girl, but he had to leave her town and go away to study. A policeman was interested in her, but she didn’t want to marry him because she wanted to keep true to the man she loved. So the policeman put her in prison. A long time later, this man succeeded in his study and came back, disguised himself in poor clothes so the greatness he had achieved didn’t show, and went to the prison to see if the girl truly loved him. Then he was able to get her out of prison. God loves the humble way and loves to use weak instruments. My companion told the story of finding a squirrel in a tank. He wanted to get it out so he went to catch it, but the squirrel tried to bite him. What to do? He put something in the tank that the squirrel could relate to; he put a branch in and stood back to watch. The squirrel went up the branch and was free. God has chosen this humble ministry and sends forth those that are weak. That is the instrument He wants to use.

1 Corinthians 12:14, “For the body is not one member, but many.” The church is the body of Christ and all in that church work together for the edifying of everybody. That is very precious. When I listened to the Gospel I knew it was true and I wanted to hear more. At the time, God was working behind the scenes, bringing experiences into my life that helped me to take steps and change until I came to understand that God was calling me in this way. I had long hair at the time, and another man came to the meeting with long hair, far longer than mine. He listened to the Gospel and was touched, and he came to the next meeting with short hair. I had hardly noticed his long hair, but I noticed his short hair. Then I read, “If a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him” (1 Corinthians 11:14). I had been listening for a while, but he understood that faster than I did and I knew what I had to do.

Jesus is alive in that body, in His church. A man grew up in a place where they read the Bible, but he looked around and saw that nobody lived the way they were reading. He felt a need in his heart to do what Jesus taught and he looked for people who had the strength to do what Jesus taught. That man was from Germany and he spent time in a prison camp in France in World War II. He went back to his country when he was free and stayed in the home of one of our friends. The lady of the home noticed that he read his Bible and she invited the sister workers for a visit. They told him the whole Truth in one evening! The sister thought she had said too much, but he knew, “This is what I need.” That is what he was looking for, Christ in the lives of others.

Every part of that body is precious. If one part of our body is hurt, all the body works to help the part that is hurt. Sometimes I say something and a little hurt can happen and I bring a shadow on that person. Human nature finds a little pleasure in wanting to hurt another person, but everyone in that body of Christ is precious and it is like hurting Jesus. Matthew 26:37, “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, 'Lord, when saw we thee and hungred, and fed thee. . or thirsty?' . . 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.'” They had forgotten what they did, but the love in their hearts reached out and they wanted to help others. Feed that love for the body of Christ. I am thankful to be a part of that body, and I long to fill my place and know how to behave towards my brothers and sisters.