Edgaras Untulis – Plunge, Lithuania
2 Timothy 3:10-11 says: But you have followed me diligently in my teaching, in my way of life, in my purpose, in faith, in endurance, in love, in patience, in persecutions, in hardships…
I began my journey of faith with Jesus, through hearing, reading and talking about Jesus teaching in the Gospels; but it was after this that I started to understand about His lifestyle – His purpose in life and His motivation. I began to understand more about His faith and endurance, His love and patience and the way in which He is able to bear persecution and hardship. Little by little, I was becoming a disciple of Jesus.
I learned these things consciously but also through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, I was also looking for human examples around me who could influence me and encourage me to follow God even more. Teaching is not enough! Although discipleship always begins with teaching, it does not have to end there. I was looking for Christians from whom I could truly learn a practical life with Christ and as I learned these things myself (with the help of the Holy Spirit) I began to teach others.
At the beginning, I taught others from the Bible – teaching is important – but I also started with teaching because I couldn’t offer anything more at that time. However, I began to understand that to truly cultivate discipleship, it is necessary not only to teach the truths of the Bible, but to open up my lifestyle, to show what really motivates me, what my daily faith and love is and how I endure difficulties and trials. Do I like doing this? Not always. It is easy to hide your imperfections behind teaching but in doing so, I lose close communication and the ability to truly influence others. Therefore, I try to promote these ideas of discipleship within my community (Plunge Town Evangelical Church).
We are not living in easy times. The Covid-19 pandemic has just ended and since February 24th war has raged in Ukraine. There is also an energy crisis and everywhere we are experiencing inflation. Christians, like other people around them, fight and work for their survival in order to maintain a sense of economic well-being. As a consequence, many are finding it difficult to find time to communicate with God and with other Christians. For many, there is no time left for discipleship and fellowship. And it is here that I see my responsibility to maintain communication in the church.
As a church, our response to these challenges has been to divide all of our meetings into two parts: the first is devoted to praise, prayer and a sermon, and the second is devoted to fellowship. We have community weekends. We do all this in order that we might get to know each other’s: way of life, motives, goals, faith and readiness to face difficulties.
I thank God that more and more people are no longer satisfied with a post-covid virtual Christianity; instead they want to see and experience authentic Christian life and ministry, where together we are able to diligently follow the Bible’s teaching and see it lived out in one-another’s lives in: lifestyle, purpose, faith, endurance, love, patience, persecution and hardship.