A couple weeks ago I was invited to my co-workers church The River of Life church. I decided to go to this church to see how my co-workers spiritual walk was going and to see how they get equipped with the word. My co-worker “Debbie” has been a really awesome spiritual woman of God for thirty years plus years. She accepted Christ back in Louisiana years ago and since she moved to stow about 6 years ago she was looking for a full gospel church to attend to help her get back into the word. I invited her to come to CT about a year ago. She came and she was a little turned off because of the young people. She enjoyed the fellowship but her husband who is Jewish did not get into the teaching. Debbie did like the teaching but something was missing.
Now back to The River of Life.
Early Sunday morning my beautiful girlfriend Kate and I showed up at this church and were warmly welcomed by some people at the door. How excited I was to be greeted and welcomed into a church. I enter the church and I start to talk to some of the members of the church. They began to tell me about a class that really got them interested in this church. The pastor of this church believes in getting equipped for battle against the evil one. He teaches a class titled “freedom class”, which focuses on the book of Galatians. This pastor goes to different churches teaching this class, it is in fact a very popular class around north east Ohio. It has caught the attention of many churches and now The River of Life church has seen an increase in attendance. Now I walk into the meeting place, and we immediately begin to sing and praise the Lord. Sadly I did not bring my singing voice to the service. Five songs later we begin to thank the Lord for all he has given us. After that we get into communion, which I did not know how to do. I forgot that I was not in catholic mass anymore, I began to treat this meeting like mass, I ate the Jesus wafer and I did the sign of the cross… woops. Mistake number one, then the man came around with the wine, apparently I was supposed to dip the wafer in the wine and then place it in my mouth. The man with the wine looked at me and shook his head. I responded with a smile to the nice old man. After that Pastor Joe began his teaching on the story of King Saul, and his struggles and how we must learn how to get out of our minds and onto the lords. His teaching was revolutionary it was astounding; he gave his testimony as well. It was incredible this pastor was born again right here at Kent State University back in the 70s. He began to spread the good news a week later, he was transformed and was made a new creature. I was blown away by this teaching.
After the mind-blowing teaching he called up all the sinners (which I thought was everybody) up to the front of the church to pray with him. I looked around and many of the church members were walking up, even Debbie. I looked at Kate and asked if she wanted to go up. My poor little Kate was fearful, she quickly denied and nervously shook her head back and forth. I said whatever im going up there. I went up and to my surprise many of the people up there were chanting something, they were speaking in tongues. The pastor was praying for them as well. I just looked at this man with awe trying to figure out what was going on. His wife came up to me during this time. She told me who she was and she then went on to tell me that she was lead by the spirit to approach me and ask me if I wanted to speak with her husband pastor Joe. I agreed and she lead me up on stage during the service. I started to freak out because I didn’t want to talk in front of the whole church about something, I was hoping she wasn’t thinking I was some pagan who just accepted chirst or something. She then looked at me and said don’t worry im not going to make you like talk in front of the whole church. I just wanted you to have a one on one conversation with him before he gets bombarded with everyone in this building. It felt like she was reading my mind or something it was crazy!!!
Well anyway, I began to ask him questions about his take on grace and the indwelling of the spirit. We had a lengthy conversation about many different theological ideas. We touched upon grace, post modernism, persecution in the church, the emergent church movement, and even salvation. It was amazing, I told him about my involvement with North East Ohio Xenos. He actually read one of Dennis McCallums’ books, and he attended a meeting at Xenos Columbus once before. He also read the Akron Beacon Journal article about our persecution, which lead to conversation about suffering as a means of growth. It was a very edifying time, and at the end of our conversation he gave me some encouraging words to go home with. He told me that it is very unusual for a guy my age being so well equipped with the word to be so educated. He told me that he had been praying for NEOXENOS since the article came out. He was glad to hear about our stories of success through great suffering and I was also very edified by the stories from his church. We had very common ground and it was really awesome talking with this pastor. We were both very built up by the end of our hour long conversation. The one thing I shouldn’t have brought up was that we didn’t worship the same way they do. I brought up that we didn’t sing at Xenos. And he was baffled, you don’t sing? No I said, but we worship God in other ways. I did get burned on that one the next day by Keith.
“What do you mean you told him we don’t worship????!!!” – quoted by Keith McCallum.
Anyway, I ended up having some sweet conversations with different people in the church as I was leaving. I have to say it was really hard to get out; I kept getting approached by new people. I just couldn’t escape. I liked that though they were showing me real concern and they were effectively trying to outreach to me. The sad thing is, their youth ministry is not doing so hot. They have little attendance of college age students, sad. They left early too so I didn’t have a chance to talk to them.
I give River of Life church …..
4 Hudo thumbs up……………. Out of five.
This church has it right their theology is right on, and everything they teach is to build up spiritual warriors for Christ. They don’t just go to church every Sunday and keep God in a box once a week. No they have cell groups just like Xenos Christian fellowship, to get some, body life in.