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Perform the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5)


Paul Anton, a German scholar, was in 1753 the first to designate 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, as “the pastorals”. Subsequent scholarship has retained this term and thus since the 18th century these three letters have been called the “Pastoral Letters”. This practice arose since these three are the only New Testament letters addressed to “pastors” of Christian communities – from Paul, a pastor, to other pastors, Timothy and Titus – and also because they deal with “pastoral” theology, that is, with church life and practice.


Our community’s theme for 2018 is taken from the following verses of Paul’s pastoral letter to Timothy: 1I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearance and his kindly power: 2proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. 3For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers 4and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. 5But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances, put up with hardships; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 4:1-5).


This pericope may be divided into two parts. The first part (verses 1-2) answers the question: why, what, when and how to preach? Why? Because Jesus Christ will be coming in “his kingly power” to “judge the living and the dead”. What? We ought to “proclaim the word.” When? At every opportunity “whether it is convenient or inconvenient”. How? By convincing, reprimanding, encouraging “through all patience and teaching”.


The second part (verses 3-5) tells us that hearing the word is of great importance but due to man’s sinful nature many “will not tolerate sound doctrine” but will follow “their own desires and curiosity”. And soon they “will stop listening to the truth”. Therefore the pastor needs to persevere and to “put up with hardship” and “perform the work of an evangelist”.


This is Paul’s final charge to Timothy. That Paul anticipates his imminent execution and death is evident in the immediately following verses: For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith (2 Tim 4:6-7).


Realizing that the time of his death has come, Paul is handing off the ministry to his younger friend and disciple, Timothy. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Paul is aware that the devil will attack the Gospel relentlessly. And having taught the soundness of the Gospel, he now solemnly charges Timothy – thus all the young pastors after him – to be faithful in proclaiming God’s Word even under the most difficult circumstances.

Many years ago while working at the United Nations in Bangkok, I took flight PR 730 to Bangkok after visiting Manila for some work- and CFC-related meetings. At about ten in the morning the pilot announced that we were about to land at Bangkok international airport. I was glad that we were on schedule since we (with Jean and our son, Jon) were scheduled to fly to Phnom Penh that same evening for our second pastoral visit as CFC country coordinators for Cambodia.


It was a quiet and uneventful flight. The plane was descending normally and was about to land when suddenly it pulled up ascending steeply. We remained in the air, flying in a circular pattern. After a while, the passengers seated in front were asked to move to the rear. I thought that there must be something seriously wrong. We had been circling for over half an hour when the pilot announced that the control panel showed that the front landing gears were stuck. He asked all to make sure that their seat belts were fastened and to prepare for a very rough landing. After another half an hour, the pilot announced that we would be landing not certain whether the front landing gears were down or not. As we descended, a recording announced repeatedly, “Emergency, keep heads low! Emergency, keep heads low!” We all ducked with our heads close to our knees as shown in the emergency instructions.


As soon as the plane landed, the pilot put on the reverse thrusts and announced that we would have to wait to be towed. We sat on the middle of the runway for another half an hour. Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles came. But we were safe. The front landing gears were down after all. The panel indicator lights were wrong.


With the plane very much delayed, I had little time to review the tongues workshop manual and prepare for the weekend mission in Cambodia. Jean suggested to postpone the mission to the following day so that I would not have to fly again that same day. But the thought never crossed my mind.


There was a heavy thunderstorm as we rode to the airport. Knowing that we would be taking a small plane, Jon remarked, “I think it will not be safe to fly.” But we arrived in Phnom Penh safely. From the airport we proceeded directly to the home of the CFC leaders in Cambodia where the participants of the tongues workshop were already waiting. We dropped our bags on the kitchen floor and proceeded to greet the participants waiting in the living room. After a song and a short opening prayer, I delivered the talk on the gift of tongues and conducted the workshop. That evening we had a truly Spirit-filled workshop with everyone receiving the gift of tongues.


The following day, Saturday, Jean and I gave the talks on Living as a People of God. Then on Sunday afternoon, I gave the CLP talk on Receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit to over 30 participants. After everyone was prayed over, I gave the exhortation and the mini-talk on vocal prayer and led the full charismatic worship. The worship was full of life and spirit with everyone praising and singing enthusiastically, clapping and raising hands, and dancing with abandon. Even the Khmers! After the worship, we rushed to the airport. We had our bags packed earlier. We were still perspiring profusely and breathing heavily when we boarded the car to the airport. We arrived home in Bangkok at midnight. But we had to be up early the following day. Jean had to prepare breakfast. Jon had a class. And I had to go to work. But there was joy and peace in our hearts knowing that somehow, with God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we had performed the work of an evangelist.  

Added on Thursday, January 11, 2018


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