Psalm 133, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore”.
The need and desire for unity is great, both within the walls of the church and without the walls of the church. In fact, over the centuries there has been several major shifts towards unity within the body of Christ for the sake of blessing, but sadly, some work for unity has been for the sake of human approval. What I mean is that some strive, pray, and dialog for the sake of God’s covenential blessing, found only in Christ. While others strive, discuss, and compromise the essential doctrines of grace for the sake of blessing, not found in Christ’s covenant – to dwell in their midst, but in a covenant of human blessing. When the former is the case, we can rest, trust, and enjoy the blessing of God – a blessing that goes beyond our own comforts, and extends to all those whom the Father will call.
Earlier this month, such an event took place at the beautiful facilities of the Tijeras Foundation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Matthew Ellison, Sixteen: Fifteen’s president and Virgil Dugan* Tijeras Foundation’s president, co-facilitated a roundtable discussion between several churches and mission agencies, who are working in Central Mexico among the Tarahumara people. Both churches and agencies have been working long and hard in this part of the world for many years, but there has not been a consistent concerted effort.
After much prayer, discussion, and planning there was a deep conviction and strong unity, that God’s holy word – which has been lacking in the Tarahumara native tongue – should and could be translated, printed, and distributed, and that a unified partnership would speed up the work of translation and lessen the cost for each church and agency.
Though these churches and agencies have some differences in non-essential practices and dogmas, it was crystal clear that they were unified in the importance of God’s word, both for evangelism and discipleship. Christ was at the center of this roundtable discussion; therefore, we trust that God will command His blessing on the people of Central Mexico and the Tarahumara would hear His call from the pages of the Bible – in their own language. How pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) dwell in the unity, for God will bless His people, and His people will be a blessing to those whom God has called.
Though God uses individual ministries, together they not only accomplish more, but they magnify Christ by working together (John 17). Sixteen:Fifteen is the catalyst that is helping to accelerate cooperation among local churches and missions agencies as they work collectively to make disciples of Jesus Christ within the world’s hidden and forgotten people groups such as the Tarahumara. In this facilitating role, Sixteen:Fifteen is a ministry that is providing major leverage toward accomplishing the common purpose of the Church.
So, it was important for these co-labors to meet and pray for wisdom, strength, and endurance to continue in the harvest field. Also, to discuss the great things that God is doing in this area and people, but also discuss the challenges and difficulties that face the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Central Mexico. Right from the start, the representatives from each church and organization demonstrated humility towards each other, and a love, both for God’s word and the Tarahumara people.
*Sixteen: Fifteen is thankful for the Tijeras Foundation and their generosity in hosting this important roundtable discussion that allowed these wonderful people to share in Christian fellowship.