“Suffering is an indispensable part of church planting,” Barry King said in the first session of his 12 Questions About Church Planting online course. That statement probably stuck with me more than any other thing he said that day. This is probably because I am part of a church plant (read initial post about my church here). Trinity Baptist Church, Abuja, where I call home, is a church plant of Kabwata Baptist Church, Zambia. This December will mark our second year as a church.
When I joined Trinity last year, I met the church worshipping in the living room of Pastor Abutu Peter Joshua, the missionary pastor who is in charge of the work. The church had lost the rented hall that was previously used as a place of worship. For services to go on, everyone had to gather at the pastor’s house every Lord’s Day morning and evening. The living room was often jam-packed, but no one ever complained. Fellowship was prized above personal comfort.
But we didn’t worship in the living room for too long. Within a few months, we were able to rent another hall for worship. And we even hosted the 2019 Abuja Bible Conference in that hall. But we were evicted the same month we hosted the conference. This brought us back to our pastor’s living room, where we pitched our tents for a few months, until February this year. We rented yet another hall and began meeting there. The COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions disallowed physical meetings from March till June. We resumed meeting physically in July. And just two weeks ago, we were evicted from our third hall.
Each eviction could be attributed to one major reason. We rented these halls on a monthly basis, which made it easy for the owners and managers to end the terms of our agreement with little or short notice. We couldn’t rent a hall for an entire year due to the financial demands involved. So we have had to opt for renting on a monthly basis.
As I have thought of these disappointments and setbacks, I have been led to ponder on the wisdom of God. When faced with difficulty in the past, I would usually turn to God’s sovereignty for comfort. But as I have grown in my understanding of God, I have been made more aware of God’s wisdom (especially as I consistently read through the pages of Scripture), and how it relates to his sovereignty. God is not just sovereign and in control of everything. He is also wise and does all things well.
If God were to be just All-Powerful, I would probably have doubts about him misusing his power someday. And I would probably question the use of his power in the past. But wisdom also defines God’s essence. He is sovereign and wise. He is full of power and of wisdom. And that brings comfort to my heart more than anything else.
Trinity is back to worshipping in the living room of our pastor. And at the moment, we are in need of two things: a hall in a suitable location, and the money to rent the hall (we plan to rent for a full year this time). More importantly, we are in need of prayers. We need God’s blessings upon our gospel labors in the city of Abuja. We need God to work powerfully through his word in our meetings. We long to see sinners saved and the saints equipped for service. (Would you be kind enough to say a quick prayer for us as you read this?)
I believe Barry King when he says that suffering and disappointment are a part of church planting. And I also believe in the Wise God who ordains suffering and disappointment and pain for his people, working all things according to the counsel of his will—for our good and his glory. I would rather have the All-Wise God in charge of all that concerns me than any other creature, including myself.