Encounter at the Wall

The theme of the epistle of first John can be boiled down to one unpretentious word: fellowship. The apostle John starts the small book by saying in chapter 1 and verse three that “our fellowship is with the father and with his son Jesus Christ”. He precedes that statement by inviting his hearers to have fellowship with him.

What is “fellowship”? We hear the word a lot. In Christian circles we speak of “food, fun and fellowship” Well, I know what food is and I know what fun is, but what is fellowship?  Does it just mean friendship? No I don’t think so.  There must be more to it. The apostle makes it clear that to have true fellowship with another individual requires a relationship with Christ. Allow me to illustrate from a life story.

Several years ago while on a missions trip, I encountered a man who become a long-term “brother” of mine.  A very “mixed bag” of sixteen believers from our church body, ages 16-78, had flown into San Paulo Brazil and then drove several hours into the countryside of that beautiful country to land in a small town that will remain unnamed. Mostly because I forgot the name of the town. After a few hours of sleep that night, we rose early to get started on building a new auditorium for their local church building. The missionary had given us some instruction about the culture and some linguistic faux pas to avoid. In preparation for our trip I had attempted to learn a few words in Portuguese so that I could at least begin a welcome to my brothers and sisters in that country.

As we started to erect the walls, we quickly realized that mudding the blocks they used was much different because they were clay and not the cinderblock that we were used to. The learning curve seemed a little steep for my level of competency so I was demoted to gopher.  As I was mixing mortar on a concrete slab I noticed the local men quickly “buttering the blocks” And erecting the walls swiftly. I turned to one of the men on a ladder and said: “bonito”, Portuguese for beautiful. At least I thought so. He immediately jumped from the ladder and with haste made his way toward me. Not realizing his intent, I was somewhat taken aback. Jumping into my “personal life space” he wagged his finger at me and said: “no no… my wall is not bonita, only my heart since Cristo.” I stood aghast!  For the next 20 minutes I had a conversation about my Savior with a man who knew very little English and he with a man who only knew only a handful of words in Portuguese. It was a beautiful encounter. One that I certainly will never again replicate. What a blessing that man was to me for 16 days in his presence and years afterward. That simple Encounter became the genesis for a special relationship between the two of us.

Our “fellowship” did not develop because of building a church wall.  It had nothing to do with clay block or mortar. The truth of the matter is that he emailed me a month after we had been there to inform me that the small wall that I put up in the entryway had fallen over. Our fellowship developed because of our relationships with Christ.

1 John 1:3 (CSB)

“ what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”

Bonita comunhão


The Gospel PostScript