A Message for the New Year

I remember how excited I was to wish people a “Happy New Year” last year (January 1st, 2020). I remember How many people I talked to, how many people I prayed with and prayed for God’s grace and favor to shower upon them for the new year. However, 2020 did not turn out as most of us expected. Some of us lost loved ones – Some of us were impacted financially – Our fellowship and corporate worship were impacted – We lost our means of compassion and love (no hugs, no handshakes, and no smile).
            However, we remain faithful, hopeful, and more united than ever before, because God still blessed us tremendously as a Church. Yes, all of us have not been able to worship in person due to the pandemic but our fellowship remains strong. From meeting on zoom to phone calls, texts, and facetime, we managed to find a way to stay connected. Yes, we have not been able to see each other and be together physically, but the blood of Jesus keeps bringing us closer together as one Church. Yes, Church seems somewhat different right now, but we literally have families (House Church) worshipping together in their own home every Sunday. We have been blessed to have several people visiting with us online and in-person. Many families in the Waterbury community were blessed because of our wonderful generosity as a Church. More importantly, God blessed us with several new additions to the family: Brianna Montoyo, Tricia Bonenfant, Joe Medford, Brai Williams, Juan Montanaz and Mike Zijeski. Continue to pray for God’s work to be done in the Waterbury Church, “that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ” (Col. 4:3).
            Church, we are a resilient Congregation because of the Grace of God that continuously showers upon us. We cannot stop, we will not stop praising the mighty name of Jesus until the day of His return or when we depart from this life. We may not know what the future holds in 2021, but we know who holds the future in His hands. Therefore, I can confidently wish you again a “Happy New Year” because our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness. Brothers and sisters let us get to work because we are victorious soldiers of Christ.

I love you all,
Donny Pierre

Do Not Be Afraid

“Do not be afraid” is an extremely popular command in the Bible – it is mentioned well over one hundred times. It is more popular than the command to “love one another.” Maybe, it is because God knows we have such a high propensity for fear: fear of the unknown – fear of change – fear of death – fear of inadequacy – fear of disappointment – fear of disapproval – fear of losing control. The list goes on. The pandemic, the economy and the political climate have exponentially exposed some of our deepest fears. Frankly, how can many of us not be afraid when a lot of things seem uncertain right now.
               In Matthew 8: 23 – 27, Jesus was travelling with his disciples on a boat across the sea of Galilee when a sudden tempest arose. Jesus was asleep while his disciples were freaking out and they were afraid they were going to die. They woke up Jesus, saying “Lord save us, we are perishing.” Several of these men were experienced fishermen (Matt. 4: 18 – 22); so, they were most likely remarkably familiar with rough seas and storms. For these experienced fishermen to be so afraid that they had to wake up Jesus screaming for help, it must have been one awfully bad storm that was beyond their expertise and ability to handle. When Jesus got up, He responded, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith.” Every time I read this story, I cannot help but think: “Duh, do you not see this tempest our here Jesus? Can you not see what is going on?” The disciples had valid, compelling, and immediate reasons to be afraid, and so do many of us today. Many of us are in these dreadful and unforeseen circumstances that are beyond our ability to handle. And just like the disciples on the boat, we might be asking Jesus “Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing?” Lord, don’t you care that I might lose my home? Lord, don’t you care about my kids not being in school? Lord, don’t you care about my “loved one” being terminally ill? Lord, don’t you care that I am so depressed? Lord, don’t you care that I lost this person that I loved so much? Lord, don’t you care ____________________ (feel free to fill in the blank whatever your frustration, pain, worry or fear might be). We should never be afraid to bring our questions, frustration, pain, and fear to God. Read the book of Job and see for yourselves how many questions Job had for God. However, are we ready for the answer. I believe the answer to this question, Lord, don’t you care, would be: “Why are you afraid?”
                Jesus wanted his disciples to lean into their faith instead of their fear. Also, the disciples have seen with their own eyes all the miracles Jesus had done so far. Therefore, the presence of Jesus Christ in the boat with them was all they needed to weather the storm. Brothers and sisters, when you are afraid, put your trust in God (Psalm 56: 3). When you are afraid, remember God is in the boat with you weathering the storm.

PS. Read Psalm 91 and Pray for God’s providence and protection over your home and the Church family,

I love you all
Grace and Peace
Donny Pierre

BE THANKFUL LIKE A CHILD

My wife and I have been attempting to teach our 3-year-old how to pray. I believe Andre is far ahead in his overall cognitive development, but his vocabulary is somewhat limited when it comes to verbally expressing all his thoughts and desires. Therefore, his prayers are short and sweet. He would usually interlace his fingers, bow his head, sometimes close his eyes, and whisper a few words of gratitude. I can hear both innocence and shyness in his voice, but when I listen attentively, I can also hear brevity. Yeah, that is my son and I am a proud dad, but the short content of his prayers always amazes me.
            We intentionally seek not to put words in his mouth, but we want him to freely express himself by verbalizing whatever his thoughts could be. Andre always expresses nothing but gratitude: gratitude for his parents, his brother, his godparents, grandparents, friends, the ability to play and so on. I know this prayer may sound typical for a 3-year-old, but I cannot help but think how the words spoken in his prayers stem from the content of his little heart – a heart filled with joy, contentment, and gratitude. I am reminded of how Jesus taught his disciples to have a child-like attitude if they want to inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-5). I want to encourage all of you, despite the pandemic, politics, and whatever hardship you may have been going through, to develop a joyful, content, and grateful heart.
            Paul reminded us that God’s will for us is to be grateful in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:16-18). It is also worth noting there are clinical studies proving that gratitude and kindness can help increase positive emotions and reduce anxiety while fostering a peaceful environment. Being thankful is not only a biblical mandate for disciple of Christ, but it also helps improve our health and overall quality of life. This thanksgiving season, which is going to be unlike previous thanksgivings due to the pandemic, let us improve our relationships and fellowship by showing genuine, child-like gratitude for each other.

I thank God every time I think of all of you (Phil 1:3)
God bless you, and I Love you all
Donny Pierre

YOUR SOUL WILL LIVE ON

In the last 3 months, I have spoken at 5 different funeral services. Each service was different from the other, but the pain and the tears were all the same. Families and friends mourning and attempting to comfort each other over the loss of their loved ones. Although we are all aware of the inevitability of death, it is never easy losing someone you love and care about – no matter when, no matter where, and no matter how that person departs this world. However, most people believe their loved ones are in a “Better Place” after death. People use the term “R.I.P” (rest in peace or power) quite often as they celebrate the life of someone they have lost and mourn their departure from this world. That belief is filled with hope as it empowers people to grieve better, knowing that their deceased loved ones are at peace and in a better place.
            Even among non-believers, there is a fundamental belief that death is not final. Although there maybe sharp disagreements regarding what lies beyond death, phrases like “They are in a better place,” or “Rest in Peace” denotes the idea of some type of belief in the afterlife – a life beyond this metaphysical one, and that is because the soul will live on. We are more than just flesh and blood. In the Bible, Job asked this poignant question: “If someone dies, will they live again?” (Job 14:14). A question that science and logical human reasoning cannot answer. Please, allow me to offer a brief biblical perspective. According to scripture, death happens when the soul departs from the body (Genesis 35:18). The soul is the very essence of man, it is the breath of life that God places inside of us as living beings (Genesis 2:7). When all biological function that sustains human organism permanently cease, the soul returns to its creator (Ecclesiastes 12: 6-7). Everyone understands the human body is nothing but dust and eventually will turn to dust after death, whether through cremation or burial. However, the soul lives on because no one and nothing can destroy it except for God who created it (Matthew 10:28).
            Now, one must ask: “Where does the soul live on?” It saddens me to say, not everyone who dies will be in a “Better Place” or “Resting in Peace.” The soul will live on either in Heaven or in hell. In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus talked about two men who died and were buried but their souls lived on in two different places. One of them was not resting in peace, he was in torments and in agony. Jesus sacrificially offers himself as the only way to know for sure that our soul will rest in peace (John 14:6, Matthew 11: 28-29). Your soul will live on, but where?

HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER SOMETHING IS GOD’S WILL FOR YOU

A couple of weeks, I preached a lesson on “The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on the Mountaintop.” In that story, we learned how important it is to set aside prayer time and prayer partners who can keep us accountable and encouraged. Jesus often withdrew from the busyness of life with some of his closest friends (Peter, James and John) to pray and express his anguish and how overwhelmed he was (Matt 26: 37 – 38, Luke 9:28). Through prayer and Scripture reading, we get to discover God’s will and purpose for our lives. Jesus always knew God’s will for His life, yet He still took the time to pray asking for the strength to accept God’s will (Luke 22: 40 – 43). Besides prayer, which should always be first and foremost, how can disciples of Christ determine whether something is God’s will for their lives?
          A few people reached out to me asking to share with them the list of 7 questions I presented during that lesson – 7 questions to help us determine whether something/someone is God’s will for our lives. There are many voices out there, including our own sometimes, that may adversely influence the choices we make and how we live our lives. I believe the following questions can help us better determine God’s will for our lives:

  1. Does this promote or hinder my joy in Christ Jesus?
  2. Paul taught us in Philippians 4: 6 – 7 that God’s will for our lives is to be joyful. Therefore, I do not believe that our creator would want us to do something or be part of anything that robs us of our joy of salvation in Christ Jesus
  3. Does it encourage me to be holy or immoral?
  4. The Bible is clear about the importance of holiness in the life of a believer (1 Thess 4:13, Heb. 12:4), and God would never want you involved with immoral things that can compromise your holiness.
  5. Is it going to help me be more grateful and content?
  6. This life can push us to want more and more and never be grateful and content with how blessed we currently are. It is God’s will for us to live grateful and content lives (1 Thess 5:18)
  7. Will it keep me humble or make me more prideful?
  8. Humility is a virtue that God desires for all believers to foster and exhibit in their spiritual journey (Phil 2:3, Ja 4:6). God would not want us to be in a position/situation that makes us arrogant and prideful
  9. Does it help me convey the love of God to my neighbors?
  10. All believers are called to love God and their neighbors. Love must always be at the center of all we do because love is how the world knows we are of God (1 John 4, 1 Cor. 13, john 13: 35)
  11. Does it help me focus on serving others or only myself?
  12. God’s will for us is not to be selfish, but to use our talents and blessings to serve others and the Church (Gal 5:13, Mark 10:45, Matt 25: 14 – 46)
  13. Does it promote or hinder my salvation in Christ Jesus?
  14. God’s ultimate desire for all of us is to be saved. He would never want us involved with anything that could potentially compromise the salvific work of Jesus Christ.
    (1 Timothy 2: 3 – 4, Matt 18:9)

PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN TEACHINGS ROMANS 12: 9 – 21

Romans 12 contains some of the most practical teachings among all of Paul’s letters. The apostle Paul made an urgent plea to his Christian audience: a) to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God (v. 1 – 2), b) to serve one another in the Church body (v. 3 – 8), and c) to actively love people without hypocrisy (v. 9 – 21). So far, we have talked about the first and second segment of the chapter, today I’d like for us to consider a very important aspect of our Christian lives: Love – pure and undefiled love.
            Love is at the center of everything godly. As a matter of fact, when Jesus was asked; “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” He responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 34 – 40). Paul echoed Jesus’ teachings on love in the thirteenth chapter of Romans: “For he who loves another has fulfilled the law of Christ… love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13: 8, 10). John made it clear that “God is love, and he who does not love does not know God because God is love (1 John 4). In the Old Testament, we learn that God chose the nation of Israel not because they were more numerous than the other nations but because He loved them (Deuteronomy 7:7). Jesus taught his disciples that the world will know who they are ‘If they love one another” (John 13: 34-35). Many are the verses in the Bible that talk about the important and imperative of love in the life of a believer. However, I believe Romans 12: 9 – 21 offers us a deeper and more practical teaching on love other than the teachings of Jesus Christ himself.
            Paul started the pericope with these words: “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Why did Paul have to encourage disciples of Christ to love one another without hypocrisy? Shouldn’t that be expected of the Lord’s Church? Shouldn’t love always be true, pure, and undefiled in the Lord’s Church? (These questions are rhetorical). Love should never have any agendas. Love should always be patient, kind, hopeful, non-provoking, truthful, and real (1 Corinthian 13: 4 – 8). However, many of us may struggle to absolutely love one another as we are supposed to according to Scripture. That is why I said we need to “actively love people.” In 1 John 3: 18, the beloved apostle exhorted his fellow believers to not only love with our words but also with our actions: love must be active, it must come from the heart. Paul explained further what it means to love without hypocrisy. The “Roman” author says that when you love someone you need to be kind to that person and be willing to value their interests as your own. Also, love seeks to be at peace with everyone, as long as it depends on you (verse 18) and it does not seek revenge. Love does not hold any grudges, nor does it keep a record of wrongdoings to remind people of later in a relationship. It is possible for a disciple of Christ to not have a peaceful relationship with everyone where kindness and love are not reciprocated, but you must strive to keep no ill-will for any human being. When you love someone, you need to bless them with your words. The word “bless,” in this context, means to speak well of them and to actively wish them well even when it is not welcomed. If there is anything you can say or do to contribute to their overall well-being and success in life you ought to do it, because that is what love does. These two word “Love Does” are the title of a book written by Bob Goff, and I would strongly recommend it to any disciple of Christ who is striving to understand how love must be actively present in their life, just as much as God must be actively present in their life. After all, God is love (1 John 4), and if God is living in you, love cannot help but be actively present in your day to day interaction with other people around you. Love does not act because of what it is expecting in return, love simply acts.

I love you all,

Donny Pierre

Practial Christian Teachings – Romans 12:3-8

In Romans 12, Paul provides some much-needed practical Christian teachings. The entire chapter can be divided in divided into three segments: a) Being a living sacrifice to God (v 1-2), b) Being of service in the body of Christ (v 3-8), c) How to actively love people without hypocrisy (v 9-21). Last week, we talked about the first segment, today we are going to focus on “Being of service in the body of Christ.”
           In the church today, we often talk about our service to God as our form of corporate worship on Sunday morning. We say things like, “I am going to service,” “How was Sunday morning Service.” To serve God is more than just Sunday morning corporate worship at the building. We also serve God in the way we serve one another as an interdependent community. In verse 3, Paul points out the first requirement to serve God and the body of Christ is humility. Paul says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you should, but rather with sober judgment.” The apostle was addressing the people in the Church who considered themselves better than others because of their wealth or power, because of their talent or education… those who probably feel superior to other members in the Church because they have been Christians longer, or they have a greater knowledge of the Bible… (David Roper, Commentary on Romans). It is important for disciples of Christ to be humble and adapt a Christ-like approach in their service to one another. Jesus himself was able to serve us because he emptied himself and “Made Himself of no reputation by taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7). He made Himself of “no reputation” when He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). We cannot properly serve one another if we do not value our fellow believers above ourselves and fail to look out for their interests (Phil 2: 3-4). Paul wants us to highly regard the collective interest of the Church body and focus less on self, and that requires humility.
           We are individual members of the same Church body, and each one of us has a talent/gift that we can use to serve one another. In the following verses (6-8), Paul points out a few gifts the Church in Rome could use to serve one another: prophecy, serving, giving, teaching, leading. Beside humility, I think it is important to determine and develop your spiritual gift(s) to serve one another in the Church body. In verse 6, Paul says “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” So, what is your spiritual gift(s) and how are you using it to serve God and the Church body. Whatever your gifts are, you have a responsibility effectively use them to minister to the Church body in order to glorify God (1 Peter 4:11). Peter said in his epistle, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Now, it is important not to think of spiritual gifts only as some supernatural/divine ability to do specific things in the Church body. Paul clearly pointed out some very practical and yet important things we can do to serve one another. Do you have the gift of teaching? Then you need to do it diligently. Do you have the gift of giving? So, give generously. Do you have the gift of encouraging others? You should do so with all your heart. Do you have the gift of hospitality? Then, be hospitable without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9). Maybe you have the gift of visiting others, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry at the soup kitchen, and so on. Do not ever limit what it is God can do in you and through you, because each one of us has a unique gift that can benefit the Church body. 
           To determine and develop our spiritual gifts, I think it is important to focus on the desires that God places in our heart, which He can confirm through other faithful believers around us. In Phil 2: 13, Paul says “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God can also use our professional skills/abilities coupled with our life experiences to develop our spiritual gifts and serve one another. In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul was writing about an unfortunate event he experienced in his life, and he believed that God brought him out of it so that he can use that experience to minister to others (2 Cor 1: 3-6). Whatever your spiritual gifts are, let us use them to serve God and the Church body. 

God bless you,
             Donny Pierre 

Practical Christian Teachings Romans 12:9

The book of Romans is often considered to be Paul’s greatest didactic epistle with a special emphasis on “the righteousness of God – a righteousness that can only be acquired through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3: 21 – 26). The 12th chapter of Romans is possibly my favorite one in the entire book, because it provides some practical teachings for disciples of Christ. There is a wealth of hands-on information in this chapter that we all could use right now, and I am going to take the next few weeks to write about Romans 12 in order to both encourage and challenge your discipleship.
            Romans 12 can be divided into three segments: a) Being a living sacrifice to God (v 1-2), b) Being of service in the body of Christ (v 3-8), c) How to actively love people without hypocrisy (v 9-21). Let us focus on the first two verses for now. Paul started the chapter with an urgent plea: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters…” He wanted to captivate his audience’s attention, because what he was about to say was and still is of the utmost important to Christian living. “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Rom 12: 1). I know many of us are remarkably familiar with this passage of scripture as it is one of the most quoted ones in the Bible. However, please allow me to share some exegetical and hermeneutical interpretation of the text.
            In the Old Testament, worship was all about sacrifices. The nation of Israel was commanded to offer all sort of sacrifices when they worshipped in the tabernacle and in the temple. The holiest day in Judaism is Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16), and it is all about sacrifices. The word “sacrifice” means “To surrender or give away something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.” God’s people were expected to sacrifice the first fruits of their crops, their animals, and their wealth (Prov 3: 9, Isaiah 56: 7, Lev 23: 10-14, Ex 23: 19). When they offered their “left-overs,” God did not accept their worship because it was not a sacrifice (Mal. 1). Although, we no longer have to offer burnt offerings and animal sacrifices unto God because of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:2, Heb 10: 1-18), we are still commanded to offer “spiritual sacrifices” to God when we worship (1 Peter 2:5).  In the Old Testament, when God’s people went to the physical temple, they had to offer sacrifices on the alter, but today OUR BODY IS THE TEMPLE (1 Cor 6:19-20). Therefore, our body must be the living sacrifice itself, and that is how we worship and bring glory to the name of God. Notice that our body is the temple, not the building; therefore, wherever we are and whatever we are doing we must strive to bring glory to His name (Col 3: 17).
            Now, in the 2nd verse, Paul explained what it means to offer your body as a living sacrifice: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” To be a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God, a disciple of Christ must not conform to the pattern of this world. Even in the Old Testament, God never wanted his people to conform or assimilate to the pattern of the world around them (Leviticus 18: 3 – 4, Ezekiel 11: 12). We must not resemble the world more than we resemble Christ. Our values, behaviors, and beliefs must stem from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not from politics, media, and culture. It is a sacrifice because we must strive every day to surrender to the will of God and not be engulfed in the ways of the world around. It is a sacrifice because there are things, habits, hobbies, beliefs, and even people we may have to give up for the sake of Christ. Mother Teresa once said, “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your weakness.” Being a living sacrifice is not meant to be a comfortable life, but a holy and purposeful one. It is a transformation process that occurs over time through the Grace that we receive in Christ Jesus. A disciple of Christ must seek to be more like Christ everyday and less like the world. “He must become greater and greater, I must become less and less” (John 3:30)

I love you all,
Donny Pierre

BE OF GOOD COURAGE

Several weeks ago, I started reading and studying the book of Esther, and I could not help but appreciate how courageous Vashti, Hadassah and Mordecai were in the face of life-threatening danger. Vashti was willing to stand up for herself, knowing there would be some consequences for defying the king’s command – she lost the crown. Mordecai was willing to stand up to Haman knowing he could have gotten killed. Esther was willing to speak up for her people, knowing she could be put to death for going to the King unsummoned.
           Several times in the Bible, God encourages His people “To be of good Courage” (Num 13:20, Deut 31: 6 – 23, Josh 1: 6-18, 2 Chr 15: 18, Psalm 27:14, 31:24). A disciple of Christ draws his/her strength and courage from his/her relationship with God – it is about trusting God to act on your favor regardless of the uncertainties or challenges we face. One of my favorite verses among those mentioned above is Psalm 31:24, “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” Courage is not always about facing challenges and troubles head on; sometimes, being courageous is about waiting on God to act on your favor. It takes courage to patiently wait on God and not take matters into our own hands, like Abraham and Sarah. Sometimes, it is about God giving you the strength and comfort to accept what may be unacceptable. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying before his crucifixion, the Bible says he was “sorrowful and troubled.” Jesus was asking God to intervene and remove this cup of suffering (the crucifixion) away from him (Matt 26:39, Luke 22:42). However, he was courageous enough to go through with it. It is my prayer that God will continue to bless you, strengthen you and give you the courage you need to keep on walking this Christian walk, no matter how difficult it may get at times.

LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING ALL OF YOU AGAIN

          It’s been a blessing to be able to worship at the Church building again. I know many of us cannot be there physically just yet and we still have to maintain the rules of social distancing, but I am overjoyed to be there on Sunday morning. I look forward to the day when we all will be able to worship together in the same building, but for now I am very grateful that God has been taking care of us and giving us the wisdom and the technology we need to keep moving forward as a Church family. However, the last few Sundays presented certain challenges in my home. To be more specific, my son Andre always wakes up asking me to take him to Church. “It’s time to go to Church daddy,” he says, but I cannot take him with me because he does not understand what’s going on with this pandemic. One day, my wife attempted to put a mask on his face, he took it off and ran away so fast that we couldn’t stop laughing. So, we decided that it was best to keep him home for now away from crowds. Sometimes I wish I were as innocent as he is.
          It breaks my heart that entire family cannot go to the Church building with me, especially having to tell my youngest son “No, you cannot go to Church with me.” As a Christian parent, I cannot imagine having to say these words to my kids: “No you cannot go to Church.” Frankly, it almost sounds sacrilegious to me. The last couple Sundays, I had to wake up earlier than usual so that I could go get dress secretly and just leave the house without him seeing me, because I do not want to see him cry about not going to Church. Now, I know he is only 2 ½ years old and he is more excited about running around the Church building and play with his little friends in the kids room downstairs or the playground in the back, but I want to share this story with you because I certainly hope all of you are looking forward to come back to the Church building and see each other again, as soon as it is possible for all of us to do so. Currently, we have to take precautions because being a Christian does not make you immune to this pandemic; However, let us never lose the joy and passion of being together physically fellowshipping under the same roof. Like always, it is my prayer that “all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit” (3 John 1:2)
          I do not expect everyone to be crying on Sunday morning like my son Andre because they cannot go to the Church building, but I certainly hope we miss each other – we miss each other’s smiles – we miss each other’s hugs – we miss each other’s voices – we miss each other’s encouragement and exhortation. The apostle Paul often wrote in his letters to different Churches how much he always looked forward to seeing his fellow believers to encourage them and strengthen their mutual faith (Romans 1:8 – 13), and I believe we all should be like Paul right now. Brothers and sisters, may we always continue to grow deeper in our love for one another, whether we are present in the body or not. May we always look forward to our fellowship, because we are always united in one Spirit. “I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete” (2 John 1: 12)