The “Open Homes to Gain Young Ones” series of messages given in the New Jersey training in July were very encouraging to the saints in the DC metropolitan area. On the afternoon of Saturday, November 19th, the first gospel forum, which we had looked forward to and had been praying constantly for, was finally here. After the afternoon forum, the evening gospel meeting, and the second forum the following day, there were 25 (17 students and 8 from the community) that got baptized into the name of the Lord.
Two months before the forum were held, the saints had started to come together to pray every Wednesday. Many saints even carried the list of new ones with them all the time so that they could pray for them whenever they had a spare moment. The Lord had opened a wide door for Chinese students to come to the US to study. Just this year, there have been more than 100,000 students that have arrived. The student saints in Georgetown University, George Washington University, and George Mason University passed out invitation flyers everywhere. Some of the gospel friends also volunteered to give the flyers to their own friends. Students brought students. Friends brought friends. In this way, there were more than 30 gospel friends attending the Saturday afternoon forum.
The forum panelists were saints from New Jersey, California, Yale University, and the local area. They coordinated with each other and answered the questions one by one. The questions were mainly concerning “Theism vs. Atheism, Christ vs. Religion, The Bible & Science”. The answers were explained clearly and full of insight. The gospel friends constantly nodded their heads in agreement. Everyone was impressed with the solemn, yet humorous atmosphere. The meeting was full of laughter and the students’ hearts were gradually opened. Toward the end of the afternoon forum, a brother called those who were willing to be baptized into the name of the Lord to step forward to the front. Right away about 5 friends stood up. The brother continued to say, that if you feel something inward, something jumping in your heart, you should come to the front. Immediately another group of friends walked to the front. After the brother led them to pray, 9 gospel friends were baptized.
After dinner, the discussion forum was shifted into a gospel meeting. At first about 7 or 8 brothers took the initiative, standing in the front and leading everyone to sing the hymn. Singing is the easiest and simplest way to convey a gospel message. The verses of the hymn were from the Word of God, and the melody and rhythm were beautiful and inspiring. Those who heard about Christ for the first time responded better to singing than to a message. For most of the gospel friends it was their first time hearing the hymn. Singing along with the tune was somewhat difficult. However, with the support of the saints and the accompaniment of the instruments, the atmosphere was high, everyone was standing, and all the faces were smiling and full of joy.
Afterward, a brother gave a brief message based on Psalms 23. The title of the message was “The Eight Aspects of God’s Shepherding Toward Man”. God’s thorough nourishing and cherishing are from within, without, from above, from below, from the right, from the left, from the front, and from behind. The way to get God’s shepherding is to receive Him and to believe into His name. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.
Next, 8 students from North Carolina or from the local area shared their salvation experiences and their living of faith. One was influenced by family members’ Christian background; one had a subjective experience of the Lord; one was even once a pious Buddhist. Their testimonies of knowing and experiencing Christ might have varied, but the enjoyment of Christ in each of them was the same. They were calm, happy, and had zeal, love and faith towards the Lord. Every one of them was a joyful and glorious Christian.
Lastly, the brother from New Jersey shared briefly. He mentioned that Jehovah is not a God that is too far to reach. He is our Father. Whenever there is a meeting, go! Wherever there is a love feast, eat! We are not going to some strangers’ homes – we are going to our Father’s house. We have all the riches of God our Father and therefore the brothers and sisters are all the wealthy second generation. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us. This will strongly support us to live on the earth. God is our Father. He knows our being, accompanies us, fills our spirit, and enlightens our path. As long as we depend on Christ, we will no longer be lonely or on our own. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life. It does not matter if our living is not as smooth as we wish, the presence of the Lord is our guarantee.
The Spirit flowed freely and filled the meeting. At the last call for baptism, another four friends chose to be transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son.
It was really joyful to see so many friends get baptized in this gospel forum. He led us in triumph. This was the victory of the kingdom of God. Gospel preaching is a joyful burden of Christians. We prayed that more people would enter into the kingdom of God to be weapons of righteousness for God to fight for His interest on the earth. At the same time, we also look forward to having another gospel forum in the near future. We believe this is God’s delight and that it will be blessed by Him. We thank the Lord for His leading, and that we experienced that although we were many individual members one of another, yet we can be blended and mingled as one Body in Christ. May the Lord keep these new believers remaining in the church life and may He lead more people into His name.