The Testimony Of Philemon – Part 1

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Mat. 5:6)

The week following our visit to the churches in Lighwa (see my recent post, “An Unforgettable ‘Safari’”), the Lord granted me the immense pleasure of visiting yet another village. This time, it was the church in Minyughe, where our very first village church is located. I was delivering on a promise I had made to the local pastor, Paul Dude, some months back. This church is growing at a very satisfactory rate, both in numbers and in spiritual stature and we regularly send pastors from our pastorate in Singida Town to minister there. But I personally had not visited for a considerable while, and it was with much pleasure that I finally found myself on a bus headed to Minyughe.

When I arrived, Pastor Dude took me to see Brother Philemon and his wife, two of the people that we have ‘fished’ from the big charismatic denominations. We fish out –without apologies – people who are tired of going to these and other dead or dying churches. These are people who are tired of all the lifeless hype and the twisting of scripture to serve men’s selfish purposes that goes on in these churches. For this reason, we have become enemies of very big church people here – pastors, bishops, self-appointed apostles and every kind of self-serving preacher. But we march on unfaltering and unfazed.

That does not mean we do not evangelize and bring in brand new converts, people who are receiving Jesus into their lives for the first time. But it is the former group that I wish to talk on for a while. Jesus said,

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Mat. 5:6)

There are two groups of believers: those who hunger for the truth; and those who don’t. According to scripture, there people in church who will hunger after other things other than the righteousness of God. That is what it says in 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

“3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

That scripture right there is talking about people who are in church! But the gospel of Jesus Christ is for those who thirst and hunger for the truth. There are people who hunger for the truth of God’s Word, praise God! These people are not satisfied by the lies and theatrics that go on in much of so-called churchdom. Nor by the signs and wonders. Of signs and wonders, Jesus said tiredly,

“Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.” (Mk. 8:12)

In fact, let us read the entire account.

“11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. 13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.” (Mk. 8:11-13)

Notice verse 12. So tiring, this business of seeking after miracles.

Notice also verse 13. It says He left the sign seekers. It does not say that He left them and came back some time later.

When someone who thirsts and hungers for the truth hears God’s Word – the gospel of the cross (as so clearly stated forth by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:23) – they throw off everything and go for it with all their hearts. Such a man is Philemon and his wife.

I arrived late in Minyughe and Pastor Dude took me to see Philemon that same evening. Even before we arrived at his house, the stars had already began peeking out of the clear sky. In the fading light of the evening we found Philemon seated outside, shaving his daughter’s head ready for school the next day. How happy he was to see us, and how glad we were to see him! It was like an old family reunion.

We thought we would be staying at his house for ten minutes or so, but we ended up staying for more than an hour. Philemon had a story he wanted to narrate to me. He wanted to tell me the story of his conversion, and I gladly obliged. I blocked out everything else, including the time of night, and gave myself wholly to his audience. The following is Philemon’s testimony of his salvation, told in his own words.

[Night had already began setting in when we went to see Philemon]

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[We found Philemon shaving his daughter’s head]

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