A few weeks ago while at a combined fellowship time a sister told me about a book called “One” by Henry Hon. She told me that it fleshed out the oneness that Jesus prayed for in John 17 and gave practical ways in which to pursue this oneness. Because the matter of oneness has been very dear to my heart for many years I immediately purchased the book on Kindle and started reading.
After reading the forward and introduction I knew instantly that this was the same vision that the Lord had given me. So I immediately emailed the author to share my heart and story. A few hours later I got the following response:
Hi brother Dylan:
So good to hear from you. I understand your frustrations and the encouragements that you have received from the Lord and the desire of the saints for the oneness of the body.
I will be in Nigeria for three weeks starting this coming Wednesday. A number of saints from different groups that I have met on my first invited visit there about 1.5 years ago have invited me back. This time to visit 7 cities with a number of diverse groups of believers. There is a hunger to hear not just a vision of the one body, but the practice of the Lord’s ekklesia in oneness with diverse believers.
It would be so good if you can come to Nigeria and join us. We can certainly have more fellowship there, not just with me, but with many dear saints in Nigeria.
You can imagine my delight after receiving this email. I immediately began making plans to attend, and by the Lord’s grace He made a way for me to go.
The saints in Nigeria
The believers in Nigeria are some of the most fervent and sincere that I have ever met. These brothers and sisters do not just do faith as a sideline. Their Christian walk and faith IS their very lives. The Lord Jesus and His purposes are pretty much all they talk about. And their lives are filled with the things of God.
Nigeria does not have many of the comforts that we have in South Africa. There is not much in the way of Internet connection, or entertainment, or night life, or food culture, or many of the things that fill our lives. Christians in Nigeria are focused on pretty much one thing, the Lord Jesus and His gospel. What fills their lives are things like bible studies, prayer meetings, book discussions, gospel preaching, home meetings, and so forth. He is their entertainment, their hobby, their night life, and their culture. He is everything to them.
They live as if they are constantly on a mission trip. If I had to compare them to any group in the scriptures it would have to be the Thessalonian believers who Paul describes as follows:
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. – (1 Thes 1:6-8)
And this is why it makes perfect sense that they would be the ones that would grab hold of and run with this message of oneness. They not only hosted 7 conferences in 7 different cities, they also had a team of about 12 that took off work to travel with Henry Hon so that they could gain from him as much as possible over the three week visit. These saints take the Lord and His purposes very seriously. And yet they are humble, simple, kind, and full of joy.
I am still getting messages from many of them asking me if I have arrived home safely and sending greetings to my wife and all the saints in South Africa. So if you are a South African believer, know that the saints in Nigeria greet you with a sincere love.
Brother Henry Hon
Henry Hon is a simple brother in Christ. He is not a big name preacher that has a big ministry, many books, or many followers. He is just a simple brother that has been loving and following the Lord in the context of the Lord’s body. Over the years he has gained insights into the scriptures as he has sought the Lord for his own life. At one point, a fellow believer encouraged him to write a book and share what he has gained with the rest of the body. And that is what he did.
It was such a joy to spend time with this brother and his wife Sylvia, and fellowship over food, before meetings, and as we drove around in the car. We shared stories, desires, struggles, and prayed much for the Lord’s people and also for each other. It was rich time of fellowship.
What I saw in this brother is a simple, yet deep desire for the Body of Christ to take seriously the Lord’s prayer in John 17 and begin to receive from the Lord that which we need to walk it out in reality. Why? Because it was the Lord’s last prayer before He went to the cross. And it is what He said would be the sign to all the world that He actually is the sent one from God. That He truly is the Lord and the Christ. Oneness would be the ultimate expression and testimony that God is with us and that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. And it is the reason that Henry Hon has written this book and spends his own money traveling to share this message.
He takes nothing from the saints but instead presents this message free of charge. He also asks nothing of the saints accept to see for themselves in the scriptures that this is the Lord’s desire. He does not ask them to join his ministry, donate to this cause or form a new church. He does not even make a profit from the book. All that he desires is that the Body of Christ would enter into and express the oneness that Jesus purchased on the cross. His desire is that Jesus Christ would be revealed to the world and that the Lord’s people would become one. That is all.
And this brother does not just preach about oneness. He models it. I saw him fellowship with all different believers, both in the meetings and in the streets. He is just full of Christ and expresses him wherever he goes. He truly is a dear brother that we can all gain from.
The message of One can be broken down into 3 parts, the vision, the gifts, and the practice.
The vision: The vision is described in John 17. That all believers would be one even as the Father and the Son are one. This is a practical oneness, not just a oneness in theory. A oneness in which all believers actually fellowship together rather than only within their church or ministry. Where all believers truly receive other believers that might be different from them with regards to practices, doctrines, or beliefs. Receive them into their homes, hearts and lives.
The gifts: The Lord gave three gifts to his body when he prayed the prayer in John 17. He gave us the Fathers name, (v12), the Father’s word (v14), and the Son’s glory (v22).
The Father’s name is of course the everlasting life of God that we get when we receive Jesus. It is only within this life that we can be one. Our human life can never be one with others, we are just divided and divisive. That is our nature. But the nature of God is oneness. So if we grow in this life, we will also grow in oneness.
The truth, which is His word is none other than Jesus Christ himself. It is not about having the same doctrines and the same practices and the same beliefs. It is about coming to know the same Lord, who is the reality behind all our doctrines, and practices and beliefs. We need to grow in our knowledge of him if we want to grow in oneness.
The Lord’s earthly glory is different from His heavenly glory. He did not give us His heavenly glory, but rather His earthly glory, which was given to him by God the Father after His death and resurrection. This glory is that of becoming nothing, even unto death. It is the glory we see when Jesus, the Lord of all, does the job of the lowliest slave by washing his disciples feet. It is this glory of serving as a slave and becoming nothing that he has given to us to become one. For we cannot become one if we remain in our human glory which is rooted in pride and is all about becoming something great, being seen, and being praised. In this glory we can only remain divided. Instead, we must receive, enter into, and grow in the Lord’s earthly glory.
The Practice: The practice is revealed in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Romans. In these two letters Paul addresses division by revealing how saints can practically be one. In a simple way this involves greeting, hosting, and blending.
Greeting other saints means more than just saying “hi.” It involves opening up our hearts and our lives to other believers and letting them do the same with us. It is letting our hearts and lives touch. A good example is intentionally spending time with other believers at your place of work to fellowship with them around Jesus Christ.
Hosting involves opening up our home for the Lord’s people to gather. Not as the leader of the gathering, but simply as the host. And not just for the people that are in our church or ministry, but for all the saints. A good example is opening up your home to all the believers in your street or complex to gather together for fellowship around Jesus Christ.
Blending involves arranging for brothers and sisters to come together in central locations to practice fellowship around Jesus Christ. For example, in America Henry and his wife help arrange a blending time every few months where all the believers that they have met through greeting and hosting (as well as those people’s friends and relatives and church communities), come together at a hotel or camp site for a weekend to fellowship around Jesus Christ.
These practices may seem simple and unimpressive, but if you truly get a revelation of this you will see how powerful they can be to express true oneness.
In order to understand these three things more deeply I suggest you download and listen to the five conference messages from the conference that I attended in Ibadan in Nigeria.
Naturally I went to Nigeria not just to meet the saints there and to fellowship with Henry, but also to receive that which the Lord would like to do in South Africa. All the saints in Nigeria as well as Henry and Sylvia prayed fervently for us in South Africa. That we would see the Lord’s vision for oneness and really enter into it. That we would become fellow carriers of this message and would be fervent in sharing it and living it out.
So what are some of the next steps we can take?
Honesty: The first thing is to just be honest. If we are honest with ourselves we will realise that we are just in a divided state. We may at times spend time with believers that are different from us, but in general we stick to people that believe the same way we do. We are just naturally factious. We find our safety in those that look and talk like we do. So we need to be honest about our state and look to the Lord to help us. We cannot just change ourselves. We need the Lord.
Vision: Once we are honest and humble we will be able to actually gain the Lord’s vision for His body. It is only with His vision, as revealed in the scriptures that we will know which way to walk and gain the spiritual strength and energy to begin walking that way. To start with I suggest that we spend time getting this truth into us. By reading Henry’s book and listening to his conference messages. Getting this into us is a great way of getting a vision and starting to move out of our places of division (See below).
Please also join the One Body Life South Africa Facebook page where we will be posting things up regularly. It will also be a great way to connect with others in South Africa that are for the one body.
Message Downloads – One Body Life Conference, Ibadan, Nigeria
The book is currently available from Amazon via Kindle and Hard copy. Because the book has been independently published it is not available in Christian book stores. I suggest getting it via Kindle.
Also check out the One Body Life website.
Photos from the confence