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Families Sharing With Other Families

 July 2011 

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In 1992 when we began doing the family Quiet Times (QTs), we also heard about the Cell Group movement. The more we heard about this movement, the more we wanted to make Cell Groups part of the life of the church I was pastoring. Why was this? What was special about Cell Groups? Let me explain:

The Cell Group movement came about primarily because of a desire to return to a New Testament (NT) or an Early Church style of church life. Many Biblical scholars claim that the phenomenal growth of First Century Christianity happened because of whole households becoming Christians. Those households were often extended families with the parents, grandparents and sometimes uncles and aunties. These households would have close friends and these households would reach other households with the Gospel.

Church Growth experts often refer to this type of growth as the oikos principle of church growth. Oikos is the Greek word for household. You can read of some of these households in Paul's letters in chapters such as Romans 16, Colossians 4 and 1st Corinthians 16.

The quality of life in these household churches made Christianity very attractive to the outside world. The Lord was very real to those Christians. The passion they had for Jesus and the love and care that they had for each other is seldom seen in modern Christianity.

Our starting a cell group in 1992 was an attempt to be like the Early Christians. The main ingredient of the weekly Cell Group in those days was to discuss the pastor's sermon that he had preached the previous Sunday. We didn't find that this worked very well. We believed that the Lord led us to have the QTs as the main ingredient of our Cell Group. So each week each person (including the children) would share one QT that was a blessing to them. This really made our Cell Group come alive.

For the past 18 years, we have been running these groups. We believe that the Lord gave us a simple key to make Cell Groups have a quality of life that is a bit like the household churches of first century Christianity.

We no longer officially call our groups Cell Groups. We just encourage families that are doing the QTs to reach out to other families.

Our family runs a group consisting of about five families as well as some young people. We used to have the group once a week but in recent years it has averaged about every second week. Some families can only attend about once a month but it is a great encouragement to them when they attend.

We have been greatly encouraged over the past few months at the number of families in New Zealand (NZ), Singapore and the Philippines who are now reaching out to other families with the family QTs. From time to time I would like to share about these families.

In this newsletter I would like to share about a Tongan family living in NZ - the family of Mafi & Loloma Latu.

Latu Family: Top row, left to right: Luisa; Mafi Jnr & wife Lovey; Watson & wife Sela; Loloma Jnr; Fe'ao Bottom row, left to right: Mafi Snr; Loloma Snr; Baby David; Finau & husband Sione (Mafile'o)

I met Mafi three months ago at the Singapore Conference (see last month's newsletter). At this conference I shared with a number of people about the family QTs and gave them each a sample copy of a diary/folder.

Mafi does not have a computer and when he arrived back in NZ he phoned us (we were in the Philippines) and our son Joseph, who was staying in our home, answered the phone. He wanted 20 diaries/folders for his family and friends which Joseph sent to him.

Two weeks after we arrived home we took a workshop in Auckland organised by Jane Ng (see last month's newsletter) to which Mafi was invited. He took more folders/diaries.

Sometime later we ran a workshop at Mafi's home to which other families were invited.

Over the past few weeks we have been really excited over the way Mafi & Loloma are reaching out to other families. Most of Mafi & Loloma's children are grown up. Three of them are married and they too are getting the QTs going in their families. So far Mafi and Loloma have been able to get nine other families doing the QTs.

Because Mafi was regularly telling me over the phone about all the good things that were happening with the family QTs, I asked him to write a letter telling about what is happening in these families. This is a slightly edited version of his letter:

---beginning of letter---

Hello Colin, Kathy & family,

First & foremost, I would like to thank our Heavenly Father for the many blessings he has gifted our lives with up until this very day. I want to thank you for the diaries and the folders that you have gifted us. It is a blessing for me and my family and also to my small groups and other families that we are sharing the Walking with God materials with.

It is also amazing how it works; it's so simple and easy enough to understand. The great thing is that it's so great to hear our kids saying "Lord I believe you are saying to me..." Moments like these are so touching. It is great to know when you read the Bible, you can understand what the Lord is trying to say to you through His words.

Quiet Times have really made our family closer. We enjoy talking about our blessings, praying together for each other and talking about the wonders of what God has spoken to each and every one of us on any given day. There is a similar feeling in the other families that I have given the 'QT diaries' to. They say that it has given them more insight into what God is really saying to them each day. They enjoy doing the 'QTs' and they as families have become much closer.

I hope that one day we can take some diaries and folders to my homeland Tonga to help my people there to understand more about what God is trying to say to each and every one of us each and every day. The Quiet Times really do help the different families that I go to visit and I am sure you will be blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot thank you enough. God bless you with your ministry.

Thank you.

With lots of love

Mafi Latu & family

---end of letter---

When we ran the workshop at Mafi's home the family of Pule Toofohe attended.

To'ofohe Family: Left to right: Pule; Mataiasi; Vula; Henry; Ofo; George and Mosese in front.

At the workshop they explained that the husband and father, Kavinga Toofohe, had died about three years ago. Pule has been doing a wonderful job bringing up her children on her own with the help of a loving, supportive church family. They have found the family QTs to be a great blessing to them

We would encourage families who have been blessed with the family QTs to pass on the joy of praying and sharing together to other families and friends.

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