“Ugh! Go away!” I remember saying half asleep. I really felt sorry for my roommate whose unfortunate job it was of waking me up for early-morning prayer. Thursdays would always start with me begrudgingly getting out of bed and walking across the garden from the boys’ rooms (or “Man Cave” as it was affectionately known) to the main house where we would all pray together. It was not until I heard the laughter of some of the “morning people” (whom I still don’t quite understand) and the whistling of the kettle on the stove that I started to get excited for fellowship.
I was staying at a commune with a whole bunch of missionaries and theology students from around the world – it was such an amazing group of people. Alas, I was there for only a year before the commune shut its doors for good (I really hope I had nothing to do with it). Looking back, I really took for granted the incredible community we had. Living together forced you to bridge many barriers and you quickly became close with those around you. We soon became one big and, mostly, happy family! If you were going through trials there was someone you could talk to. If you were in a spot of trouble they would be there in a heartbeat. If you needed prayer, all you’d have to do is walk into someone’s room (knock first…otherwise that could lead to an awkward situation) and ask for it! If you were happy, sad, lonely, hurt or excited, there would be someone there for you to share with. It was literally like a second family.
It’s been two years since I left them and I’ve been craving that kind of community ever since. I’ve been told that everything has its season, which I understand, but it still doesn’t make getting over the end of something any easier.
After we all left the commune we lost touch with each other. Most moved back to their homes overseas, whilst others went to other parts of South Africa. I felt unbelievably lonely during this time. I wasn’t at a home cell at that stage and most of my church friends were in Joburg (I was studying in Pretoria then). I quickly realized how important being part of a community was. God made us relational beings. He did not intend for us to go through this life alone. See how He even said that Adam being alone was not good!
Feeling this deep longing for community I joined one of my church’s home cells. I was so desperate for a Christian family I’d drive to Joburg once a week to be with them. My spiritual life benefited greatly from these meetings. I finally had a group that cared for me and prayed for me. They would often send each other WhatsApp messages encouraging each other throughout the week.
This morning at church a man shared a testimony showing how community is such a vital part of life and your Christian walk. After his sister unexpectedly passed away a few weeks ago he was surrounded by his Christian family. His home cell made the time to be with him and supported him through it all. He wanted to encourage anyone who feels alone or who doesn’t have anyone to pray with to join a home cell. I know joining a group can be scary for many people. I remember how nervous I was driving to home cell for the first time! What if these people don’t like me!? What if I’m not spiritually mature enough for them? How can I open up to these complete strangers!? Don’t worry about these questions!! They are not of God. I promise you, joining a small community of believers is the best thing you will do! (Apart from give your life to Jesus of course!)
I remember reading The Purpose Driven Life a few weeks back and Rick Warren was talking about how the enemy doesn’t want you to be plugged into a community and how impossible it is to walk your journey alone. So I encourage you to join a group if you are not part of one and, if you are, I want to urge you to be an active member of such a group. Experience has told me that you should not do anything half-hearted. If you’re going to be part of a community then PARTICIPATE! I let my studies dictate my life for a long time and I missed out on a lot. Do not let “busy-ness” or “life” get in the way of relationships and community. I know that most peoples’ lifestyles nowadays are incredibly hectic, but that should not get in the way of you meeting up with your spiritual family. I promise you, it is not your work that will help you get through difficult times, it is your friends and family.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Peace and Love