My parents were Roman Catholic. I myself gave my life to the Lord Jesus at an evangelical rally by a Brethren Assembly Church in Malaysia. I spent the first few years of my Christian walk learning about the bible from friends from the Assembly of God churches. Later as I moved around while pursuing my studies, I have attended i an Anglican High Church, a couple of Brethren Gospel Halls, a Charismatic Anglican Church, a Pentacostal church, a couple of Baptist Churches, another Brethren Church, a Moravian Church and a couple of non-denominational churches. I have always made the conscious decision to attend and support the local church irrespective of denomination as long as they hold to the common belief that Jesus is our Risen Lord and Savior.
I believe that no church is perfect this side of heaven but each has its strengths and qualities which all contribute to the glory of and the service for Christ. In the end, all churches are under the headship of Christ.
I remember on one occasion, I was deeply troubled about something and I sought God’s guidance in prayer on what to do . As I read the bible, God directed me to a particular bible story which gave me an answer to my question. However, it was not an answer that I wanted to listen to and I refused to accept it. That weekend I attended the Sunday service at a Baptist Church and the Pastor spoke from the same bible passage. Again not willing to accept this as the answer and not willing to obey God, the next Sunday I refused to go back to that church and went instead to a Moravian Church. Guess what? The Moravian Minister preached from exactly the same bible story. Still stubborn and trying to run from God’s message, the next Sunday I followed a friend to a Pentecostal Church. Well, I checked and the sermon definitely was not on that same bible story. A successful dodge? Well, no! After the sermon, the pastor gave a few prophesies and one of them was exactly the same message again.
What could I do? I had prayed and God had answered. Obeying Him on this matter was extremely painful for me at that time but looking back now with the passage of time, I can clearly see God had only good things in mind for me. But my main point of this tale is that God worked through each of these different churches to speak to me. Our God is the God over all denominations.
Have you heard of the Moravian Church? I attended their Fetter Lane Moravian Church when I was staying in Chelsea, London. It was a small church but the congregation was very warm. I got invited to many a Sunday tea at homes of church members. I was impressed by their very simple but warm worship service and the very real love and strong fellowship. The congregation was a mix of Black and White united in brotherhood and there was no racial tension at all. The service was a bit traditional by today’s standards but in simplicity there is beauty and a focus on God’s presence. It remains one of the churches that I am most fond of and which was a great blessing to me when I was there. Below are some photos that I took of the church when I re-visited it a few years ago after an interval of 25 years.
All Photos by LGS
Here are some interesting facts about the Moravian Church;
- The Moravian Church came out of the Hussite Movement (from the reformist teachings of John Hus) and was established in what is now the Czech Republic sometime in mid-15th century.
- It is possibly one of the earliest Protestant churches (ahead of Martin Luther by about 50 years)
- It underwent a renewal in t1727
- It then became the first Protestant Church to send missionaries around the world.
- It was the first church that reached out and had a ministry to slaves ( specifically in the Caribbean).
- It held strongly to the idea of a united church irrespective of traditions and denominations.
- It’s motto is: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love”
- In putting this into practice, the church sent out teams to work with other churches to build up and to encourage.
- It called its graveyards “God’s Acres” and these are characterized by simple and equal sized tombstones laid flat to the ground. This was done to emphasised that all are equal and there is no distinction because of lineage, social status or wealth.
- John Wesley was a disgraced Anglican minister when he attended a Moravian service and had a personal experience of God. He then went on with zeal to preach the gospel which later led to the founding of the Methodist churches.
- Today the church has some 850,000 members worldwide and is particularly strong in the Caribbean and in Tanzania.