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Yesterday, we studied Numbers 2 and were reminded of the interconnectedness of the clans of Israel. Though each of the twelve tribes was uniquely demarcated by their own “standard,” they were a unified army marching forward with their King at the centre. The individual was important, each family unity had a unique function, each clan had a special responsibility, and each tribe had an assigned location. But together they were to march towards the Promised Land, unified in focus, uncompromising in their reverence, and united in their faith. Though individually responsible, they were corporately connected.

This is how the local church functions. In passages such as 1 Corinthians 12, we learn that each church member is gifted by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the whole. As each member fulfils her function, the wider fellowship of the church is fortified. We might say, “We are in this together.” It is for this reason that, when one weeps, we all weep, and when one rejoices, we all rejoice (Romans 12:15). This is true both in a local church and between local churches. At least, it should be.

Brackenhurst Baptist Church is blessed with fellowship with many other likeminded local churches. Over the years, God has blessed us with the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with other churches with whom we are united in focus, reverence, and faith. Therefore, when these sister churches experience blessing, we rejoice, and when they experience sorrow, we weep with them. At least, we should.

Last year we rejoiced with Faith Reformed Mission in Belville South upon news that someone had provided the funds for them to purchase a church building. We had been praying for a long time for this need and so what a blessing to rejoice with them upon God’s answer. Many similar examples could be given.

But this same principle applies to our sister churches who are suffering. One of those is a daughter and sistercongregation: Heritage Baptist Church in Melville. They are hurting; we are corporately connected to them; let us weep with them.

Ten years ago, BBC partnered to help plant HBC. Many of us are friends with her founding pastors, Tyrell and Michael, and their newest pastor, Lelo. Many of us know many of her church members, including Given Mahlaba.

Given was a faithful member of HBC who served the church in various ways, including as a deacon. Given died this past week, a yet-to-be-confirmed casualty of COVID-19. His wife (Phumi), daughter (Gabi), and son (Mogale), are grieving his death, as is the congregation. We also grieve with them.

Our church is no stranger to tragedy and grief. We know what it is to grieve the death of beloved church members. As the parent and as a sister church we have the opportunity join them in weeping, to help carry their burden.

BBC, let us join this congregation at the throne of grace. Pray for this precious family as they bury their husband and father. Pray for the pastors of HBC as they shepherd the family and the flock. Let us stand with them, on our knees, during this time of heartache. We are corporately connected to Heritage Baptist Church; they are family. May God use us to help them to stay focused, to grow in reverence, and to be united in faith as they weep in the wilderness.

Caring with you,