Village of Fellowship

(Republished with permission from Press Service International, for Christian Today Australia )

“It takes a village to raise a child.” (African proverb)

I cannot count every moment of encouragement or learning shared with others, but know they have all had an important impact on our family life. I am so thankful for other mothers to journey with through the seasons and challenges of parenthood; the wisdom of those who have already passed through baby stages, the solidarity of those navigating the same toddler training challenges, and the opportunities to bless other families myself.

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes fellowship to raise our faith.

. . .

Together

I remember the first few weeks; the frequent feeding, aches and pains, weary eyes and trial and error. Awake in the middle of the night, I cradled my newborn trying to interpret her cries and deliver all she needed. It was tiring and difficult at times, but I knew I was not alone.

Other mothers were also awake, trying to settle their own babies. We would text one another ideas, words of encouragement and sometimes just to say ‘Hey, I’m awake too’.

There are night seasons in life as well, ones which test our faith. There are seasons of weariness, of pain, of doubt and of not knowing when things will change, but we are not alone.

Ecclesiastes chapter 4, verse 12 says:

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Standing alone, we are vulnerable, but it only takes a couple of others standing beside us to keep us from breaking. Acts chapter 2 describes a church where believers “were together” and had “glad and sincere hearts”. Acts chapter 16 describes Paul and Silas praying and singing hymns while in prison.

Togetherness, unity, friendship and fellowship can take us through night seasons of faith with hope and joy.

. . .

Through generations

We have been greatly blessed by many hand-me-downs; books, toys, clothes, and encouragement through the advice and experiences shared by other parents. Subsequently, we have been glad to pass down and share things with others ourselves.

Faith is not just for ourselves, it is for sharing. In the Bible, it is sad to see mention of an Israelite generation growing up that did not know God (Judges chapter 2, verse 10), but also encouraging to read about the incredible faith evident in Timothy that reflected the faith of both his mother and his grandmother (Timothy chapter 1, verse 5).

The hand-me-downs of faith are just what we need to navigate the seasons of life that lie ahead. As we journey through the years and decades, there will also be opportunities for us to equip younger believers with spiritual armour; to show them how to belt up with truth, hold the shield of faith up high, wield the sword of the Spirit, fit their feet with readiness and ensure their helmet of salvation remains in place (Ephesians chapter 5, verses 14-17).

. . .

We learn

Every family is unique. There are libraries full of parenting tips, strategies, ideas and experiences, but I have also gleaned so much from other mothers. Their ideas and experiences have helped with feeding, sleeping, activity planning and meal preparation.

The church contains a treasure chest of different giftings, personalities and life experiences. While there may be clashes, there is also an incredible opportunity to learn from the experiences and strengths of others. Having different opportunities and aptitudes are a blessing we can share with each other. Rather than compare and envy, let us celebrate and grow together.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” (Philippians chapter 2, verse 3)

. . .

We grow

Babies grow up, and we do not remain parents of newborns forever, but must grow and learn along with them. In the same way, we as believers are meant to mature in our faith through the changing seasons of life, and fellowship helps us in this.

King David’s life is a great encouragement to me as it demonstrates what a heart after God looks like through a myriad of ups and downs. David fell into sin and had seasons of fear, exhaustion, and discouragement, but he also had seasons of joy, security and celebration. He was betrayed, and he was encouraged by those around him. His life from childhood to death shows the impact good friends can have in helping us mature and be strengthened through trials.

“And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” (1 Samuel chapter 23, verse 16)

Friends who offer encouragement and challenge at the right times are valuable.

. . .

We are not alone

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes fellowship to raise our faith.

From the beginning, God saw our need for companionship, and He made Eve for Adam. Yet, loneliness is rife throughout our world today. We have the promise of God’s enduring faithfulness, even if everyone else were to abandon us, but to have fellowship with others is a true delight.

God did not intend for us to walk this life alone, but to enjoy it in the company of others. So, let us keep watch for one another to encourage, challenge and raise our faith.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 11)


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