Is it really too far to go to church?
Travelling in various countries, I have heard some complaints that folk have to travel too great a distance to get to church on the Lord’s Day or that the journey takes too long. Hence, the person says, they are often irregular at worship services.
I live in the Philippines and am one of the pastors of the Cubao Reformed Baptist Church in Manila. I have often been greatly challenged by the earnestness of men and women here, who go to great lengths to be present at meetings.
For example, consider a man we knew back in the 1970s, Amado de la Torre. Amado came to faith in Christ through the ministry of two missionaries who visited his isolated village on the island of Ambil.
Some years previously, Amado had began to slowly read the Bible. When the missionaries visited this isolated island, Amado’s heart was prepared. He kept them up all night with his questions and came to love the Lord Jesus Christ.
On one occasion, a visitor from Manila was to take some meetings in the village where we lived on the main island of Lubang. We sent word to Amado about these and hoped he could attend.
He arrived late on the day of the first meeting. There had been no motor boat from his village, so he had borrowed a canoe. He paddled that canoe alone for six hours across the open sea to reach our village, so he could hear the preaching of God’s Word.
Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here.
In our church in Cubao, Jema, a lady in her late 60s, travels for two hours on public transport to attend the adult Bible class and Lord’s Day services. She has been attending our church in Cubao now for about 20 years. She first rides on a tricycle, then a bus and then a jeepney to reach us. The church helps her with her fare money.
Sherry, a single lady in her early 40s, travels to Cubao on public transport for one and a half hours each Lord’s Day. In the evenings, because it is so far to go home, she often stays with her sister, who is also a member and who lives about 30 minutes away.
Pat and his wife also travel for two hours each Lord’s Day to come to the worship services. During the monsoon season (June-October) they have to walk for over 30 minutes on a muddy track from the farm where they live. They get out to the main road and then catch a passenger jeepney which slowly travels in to a nearby town.
There they change jeeps and get one for Cubao. Jeepneys stop everywhere to pick up and put down passengers. The journey every Lord’s Day takes them about two hours each way. We have many more who travel up to an hour each way to attend the worship services in Cubao.
Why do these dear people travel so far? They have come to clearly see the teachings of sovereign grace in the Scriptures, and no other teaching will satisfy their hearts and minds. They love the Lord and desire to hear more of his sovereign goodness and worship him in Spirit and in truth.
So when someone abroad tells me they have to drive their car for nearly 30 minutes to get to worship, and that is why they sometimes do not attend, I find that so sad and wonder what they would do if they lived in the Philippines.
Let us all examine our hearts and see if we truly love to be found with the people of God on the Lord’s Day, worshipping our sovereign Lord and Saviour.
Let us also realise that the majority of people in this world do not have cars to take them to church, but they still make every effort to get there and worship the Lord on his day.
Brian T. Ellis