This week Norma Jean and I are in San José, Costa Rica.
It is the home of one of my former preaching interns, Gabe Chaves. We’ve wanted to come for a long time to meet Gabe’s family, worship with the brethren in Alajuela, and see their beautiful country. By God’s grace, this is now a reality.
Numerous brethren in the United States have enjoyed fellowship with the Costa Rican brethren for many years. More recently among them are Kenny Moorer, Kerry Keenan, Ken Embry and Jack Gagle. Everyone who has visited here speaks highly of these brethren. Now I know why.
When their preacher, Santiago Soto, learned we were coming, he immediately reached out and asked me to preach and teach the Bible class both Sundays we’re here. His emails were so engaging and friendly, I could hardly wait to meet him. And I was not disappointed.
Santiago and his son Josue, picked us up with a Uber driver at our hotel and greeted us warmly and extended “the right hand of fellowship.” Soon we were at the meeting place of the Alajuela church. And were greeted with handshakes, hugs, and warm smiles.
Few there could speak fluent English, including Santiago. And I am not fluent in Spanish. But that made no difference. You could feel the connection. The commonality of faith. The joyful comradeship in the gospel. The special bond we share in Christ. The Bible calls it fellowship.
Spiritual fellowship knows no bounds or borders. It crosses countries and continents. It overcomes arbitrary human distinctions that divide people by social standing, economic status, or political affiliation. It breaks down barriers of language. Race. And ethnicity.
Our worship service message on “Pressing Toward the Prize, and Bible class on “Authentic Christianity” from Romans 12 was well received. My translators Josue and Gabe did a wonderful job. And while I could not understand all the comments after the lessons, I could feel their appreciation and encouragement.
Following the morning services, we were invited to Santiago’s home where his lovely wife Marisela prepared a delicious meal. Along with their daughter Abby, and Josue as our translator we prayed, ate, laughed, shared stories, and built a closer friendship.
It is community and communion. It speaks to our divine association with God. And with each other. It is joint-participation. Partnership. And commonality in Christ.
The Bible addresses the importance of fellowship in our Christian walk. Luke says the Jerusalem Christians “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Ac. 2:42, ESV).
Various English words are used to translate the Greek word “koinonia.” They give us insight and a clearer understanding of what it means to enjoy fellowship in the Christian community.
Fellowship is contributing to the needs of the saints. (Rom 12:13)
Fellowship is practicing hospitality (Ac 2:46).
Fellowship is sharing your faith (Phile 6).
Fellowship is mutual participation during the Communion service as minds collectively focus on Christ death, burial and resurrection (1 Cor 10:16-17).
Fellowship is enjoying divine association with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (1 Cor 1:9; 2 Cor 13:14).
Fellowship is walking together in the light of the Lord and receiving cleansing from our sins (1 John 1:7).
Fellowship is weeping with those that weep; and rejoicing with those that rejoice (Rom 12:15).
Fellowship is sharing in the suffering of Christ together, while knowing we will be partakers together of His glory (1 Pet 5:1).
Fellowship is welcoming a new brother and sister from another country, making them feel welcome and a part of the family.
While the church in Alajuela is small. About 40 in number. They are large in love. Great in faith. Huge in hope. And overflowing in their fellowship.
We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve. To share. And to engage in fellowship with these fine brethren.
Oh, one other thing happened that made me smile. Prior to my sermon, we sang a song that while I didn’t know the Spanish words, I immediately recognized the tune, “We’re Marching On To Zion.
Yes, we are marching together. Onward and Upward. Fellowship makes it possible.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman