For the many Saints that gathered during the September visit of our brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ, Bickertonites, there was joy in knowing that there are other branches of the restored gospel that hold fast to the Doctrine of Christ and the Book of Mormon. Since that visit we were contacted and asked if we would like to be involved in some shared ministry with their mission in Omaha, Nebraska.
We traveled on Friday November 18 and were graciously invited to stay in the home of Seventy (Evangelist) Clifton Wells. Brother and sister (Valarie Wells made us feel right at home. Two of the brethren from Ohio, Seventy Jon Genaro and Elder Ron Giovannone, flew in late Friday evening to join us in the Wells' home. Long before the official activities of the weekend would begin, we found ourselves in fellowship and discussion over the work of the kingdom.
Saturday morning began with a prayer and fasting service as we gathered with the Saints for united prayer. After experiencing the spirit of singing that accompanies the Church of Jesus Christ, we knelt as a body and the brethren directing the service led out in prayer. It was a joy to see the deep spirit of heart felt petitions to our Heavenly Father as nearly everyone present praised God and laid their concern at the throne of His mercy. After a hearty lunch at the church, we returned to the Wells' home, finding ourselves engaged for several hours, sharing in a round table discussion. A number of topics were reviewed, demonstrating both our common beliefs as well as areas where a different vantage point demonstrates gaps that we each look forward to one day finding resolved.
Saturday's evening activities began with a period of song followed by instruction by brother Patrick on the topic of salvation. He carefully guided us on a journey through the New Testament demonstrating the multitude of witnesses that affirm the testimony that baptism is essential for salvation.
Brother Jim then followed with remarks on the surety of God's word; and clearly defining the difference between the power to forgive, and the power to remit, and its implication of a divinely called ministry. Each session built upon the word of God, demonstrating the truths revealed in these last days.
Following these periods of instruction, we sat and witnessed the serving of the Lord's Supper. Many aspects of this ordinance are different then we experience, yet we rejoiced to see a spirit of unity, broken heartedness and contrition of spirit, as they remembered the Lord's sacrifice and the covenant into which they each have entered.
Fellowship continued into the late hours of the evening, before retiring for needed rest in preparation for the Lord's Day.
We arrived at the church, now more than strangers. We were greeted with warmth and affection. God's love does not discriminate.
In the Church of Jesus Christ, they usually have two of their ministers occupy. This particular morning both of the local ministers, along with Brother Giovannone, shared the pulpit. The primary message that Brother Ron (Giovannone) shared was centered on the 14th chapter of Matthew, verses 20-28. We were challenged to step out in faith, as was Peter in his desire to come unto the Lord as he stood upon the sea. Ron shared the personal testimony of his journey from his time as a young boy until his conversion and baptism in his mid twenties. It was a spirit filled message of hope, and the faithfulness of our Lord as he beckons unto us.
Fellowship continued with another church wide meal, giving us time to mingle and share the story of the Reorganization.
Some may wonder just where such efforts are going, and that is a fair question. We live in the days of fulfillment, days when we shall live to see our world change drastically. It is our testimony that the Lord is opening up doors for healing, and restoration. Days of preparation when He will mend the breaches that have separated true believers in the latter day evangel and the testimony of the Book of Mormon. There is a great deal of work to be done, if we, as a people, will be equipped to assist in the actual building of the city of Zion. There are bridges that need to be constructed in families, in branches, between branches and various organizations that the work may go forward in the power of the Lord. It is our hope that each Saint will take every available opportunity to become a bridge builder, and not a wall builder.
May the God of Heaven richly bless us as we go forth to labor.
Seventies Jim and Patrick McKay