“Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal 6: 2 How does the church respond to the spiritual needs of the community of believers?
Praying with the people of Timor Leste
"Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Gal 6: 2
How does the church respond to the spiritual needs of the community of believers? In Timor Leste the Protestant Church of Timor Leste (IPTL), an ecumenical partner of Global Ministries responds almost daily with the tradition of the "kultu uma kain" which, in Tetum means "family worship service." Through this ministry, members experience a sense of community and solidarity in a context where many are on the margins of society.
As missionaries working with the IPTL Monica, our daughter Hannah and I often participate in these home worship services. Rev. Sammuel De Jesus of Immanuel Protestant Church in Lospalos says that the 'kultu uma kain' began during the Indonesian occupation of Timor and continues to this day. This ministry gives each family in the church a service tailored to its own concerns and longings. Since many parts of Timor are very remote, it is also a way to take the worship of the church to people who don't often make it to Sunday services.
The 'kultu uma kain' is also an important way for lay people to participate in the leadership of the church. In the IPTL lay preachers make up most of the leadership of the church. Therefore usually 4 to 5 lay people will travel to the host's home and one will lead the service. Preparation provides an opportunity for these lay leaders to develop biblical literacy and theological reflection. There are songs, scripture reading, preaching and a "general prayer" which is focused on the specific needs of the family. During the year every family in Immanuel Church receives a visit for this type of service. In addition to the 'kultu uma kain' there are also frequent pastoral visits made by church members to each other's homes. Very rarely does a pastor go alone; it is almost always a community activity. If someone is sick or bereaved or otherwise in need of consolation, several members will go and through this witness of bearing one another's burdens, fulfill the law of Christ.
Tom and Monica Liddle
Tom and Monica Liddle serve with the Protestant Church of East Timor. Tom serves as a facilitator for church programs; teaching English and helping with worship leadership in village churches. Monica works as a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) in Immanuel Clinic Lospalos, which is run by the FUSONA, the relief and development wing of the IPTL. Monica's appointment is supported by One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS).