Whenever I read Paul’s letters, especially those to his young disciples, I try to imagine what the first century church scene must have been like. We have bits and pieces of background information about Timothy and Titus. At times, we will catch a glimpse of someone like Epaphroditus. When we read Acts, we learn of different teammates that traveled with Paul to the mission field. However, like other parts of Scripture, I am left with the desire of wanting more. How did Paul meet these men? We know what he wrote to them, but what did he say to them whenever they visited him in prison or traveled with him? How did the missionary disciple them? How did he encourage them in the work of the local church?
I imagine a flurry of activity among new Christians and new congregations, and these new evangelists are running to different groups, sharing letters, installing elders, and helping to grow the church.
Aside from the unanswered questions, we are also left with three conclusions. First, Paul sought out men who were young, immature, and recently-converted. Two, Paul accomplished much of his vision for the work through these men. Finally, these men were to do the same with others.
Whenever one has such a large task in front of you, it is a temptation to fast forward and forget the fundamentals, and then, consequently, get frustrated by the results. In his writings, Paul teaches a clear lesson for any missionary: teach others who can then teach others. Honestly, in my experience, this has been an extremely frustrating and disappointing part of the work. It would be much easier to fall into the common trap of doing everything ourselves.
However, there are moments when the vision is being realized. Just last Sunday, one of our recent converts led us in the Lord’s Supper. Julio is only 16 years old, and was so nervous he nearly dropped the microphone. But he was able to lead the congregation through this important part of the service. For him, and for the whole congregation, it was the first step on the path towards becoming a leader.
There are many others in our young congregation who are growing and gaining influence. The missionaries are continuing to hand off the work on a daily basis. Please pray for us, and that this will continue to be a major focus of what God is accomplishing through his work here in Cusco.