Chapter 1

1 I, Rod, to the saints of the Village in Tucson. Grace, mercy, and peace be to you as you minister healing to those gathered by the Great Gatherer who has called the lost and hurting to himself. 2 May you be richly blessed as you lay down your lives for your friends and families.

3 Greet my dear friends, Eric and Sue, who have been eager to serve you from the very beginning. From them you have received the Scriptures, faithfully preached both in word and deed, and a godly example to be followed. 4 They have labored hard among you and, in doing so, not only blessed the saints of the Village, but added to the Kingdom those who our God calls to himself. 5 You owe them a debt of love and gratitude that can not be repaid. Honor them and serve them as they walk humbly among you, as you would myself. 6 Do not forget their children, Ashton and Elliott, who have been raised in the Lord and who are also godly servants. I give thanks for them at all times.

7 Greet also Mark and Layne. Layne was the first missionary of the Village, sent to serve those in south Tucson. She was also the first to lay aside the call of returning home to Indiana, the place of her birth, and instead make her new home in Tucson out of a deep love for the church and the mission of God. 8 Mark has faithfully offered his many gifts to the church, leading in worship and building up the community of the saints. He is a wise counselor and you would do well to heed his instruction. Together they minister well among you. See that you encourage them and provide for their needs.

9 God has called Michael to be an elder among you. Give him the respect that the office to which he is called deserves. Michael has a wonderful intellect that allows him to contend for the faith, but also a heart of compassion for others. Support him and encourage him in his walk with God. 10 Greet his wife, Ashley, who has been called to be a part of the Village and also is an expert in law where she is a great help to the Kingdom, particularly to the hurting children God dearly loves. Encourage her and thank God for her.

11 Honor Julie and Corey as elders among you. They have expended themselves on your behalf and your Heavenly Father will richly reward them. Honor them as they have stepped away from the strains of being elders.

12 Follow your lead ministers. They are godly men and women who are called to the role of servants of the Most High God. Submit to them in Christ.

13. Support generously our missionaries, Ben and Christy. I recall when Christy first announced her intent to bring the gospel to Turkey. She was so young, and I feared for her safety as a father is concerned for a daughter. Our Father has gone before her and has kept her safe. More than that, he has given her a godly husband and delightful children. 14 They have faced many hardships. Being banned from the country they love and being forced to live elsewhere is difficult. Being confined to Australia during the great pandemic was troublesome. Moving to Azerbaijan and then being required to move again continued their travails. 15 Throughout it all they have persevered and continued their vital ministry in the face of Satan’s onslaught. We rejoice that the evil one has not been able to silence them in their proclamation of the gospel. Remember them always in your prayers.

16 Brothers and sisters, I take delight in the way you serve the community around you. I have heard good reports from outsiders who have been blessed to have received desks and bookcases and headphones through Spaces to Learn and Jessica’s work. Your kindness and generosity toward hurting children reflects well on the church and brings honor and glory to our God. 17 Continue this good work that Christ prepared for you to do.

18 It is a joy to hear how you have cared for those who have suffered greatly during the time of the pandemic. 19 Providing the essentials of life to those in desperate need pleases the Father and your kindness to the hurting did not go unnoticed by the One from whom all good things flow. 20 Continue to open your eyes and hearts to sisters and brothers in need and give joyfully to those your heavenly Father places in your path. 21 Do not be like those who withhold blessings as they accumulate wealth for themselves. Great is your reward when you give away what has been given to you.

Chapter 2

1 I have heard that there is some discord among you. This should not be. We love to make assumptions about the motives of others as if we knew their hearts. It is not so. Only God knows our hearts and our intentions. We should imagine the very best motives and assume those instead when dealing with each other. 2 Do not presume that because someone has wounded us, that it was their intention to do so. Oftentimes we judge words and actions based on our own response to our past and not to the present situation and in doing so create hurt and pain not only in ourselves, but also in others. 3 Those of us who do evil intentionally out of envy, greed, or malice should cease and seek forgiveness from those we have hurt. 4 The path to joy is not found in getting our way, but in choosing to love those who have hurt us.

5 The time of the pandemic not so much shaped your character as revealed it. 6 If you are angry and bitter, examine yourselves as to why. What fears lie at the root of your rage? 7 It is easy to judge others for their fears, but not be aware of your own fears of economic collapse, or invasion by outside forces, or dying from a disease, or a myriad of fears that can consume us. 8 Conversely, we easily judge others as being unloving or cruel or inconsiderate without sensitivity to what their struggles might be. 9 In your conversations with others, I invite you to confess your own fears and doubts and bring the balm of the gospel to bear on those fears. 10 One of my own deep fears over the last two years has been that I might spread the virus to those I love and do them harm. It was a mistrust of the sovereignty and mercy of our loving Father, and I have turned away from that fear. 11 Above all, show love to one another by honoring each other and respecting that God is at work in all of us.

Chapter 3

1 God is pleased when you speak deeply into each other’s lives and call each other to greater devotion to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Do not give up Pilgrim Groups and meeting together to urge each other toward repentance and grace. 3 Be merciful and kind to each other. Speak the truth in tears and remember your own failings as you point out the failings of others. 4 Be courageous for those who are fearful. Be strong for those who are weak. Be calm for those who are anxious. Have faith for those who doubt. 5 Demand justice for others, not for yourself. Lay down your grudges and disputes and let others go before you. 6 Remember that Jesus made himself nothing and follow in his path. 7 It will be hard and will go against everything this world will teach you, but we live in an upside down Kingdom where we are called to a journey of suffering that leads to sweet intimacy with God. 8 Do not despair! While the journey is difficult the benefits are eternal. 9 Both in this life and in the next, you will find joy, not the fleeting pleasures that Satan offers, but true pleasure that comes from being held close to the heart by the King of kings and Lord of lords.

10 The women of the Village are exemplary in their love for others. They serve creatively and well, and I thank God for them. It is not easy to serve spouses and children and family and friends and the community of the Village, and they work tirelessly to that end. 11 May God richly bless them as they bless others. Express your gratitude to them, and model your lives after them. 5 A question I am often asked is, “Is it worth it to follow Jesus?” 6 I can assure you that there is no greater assurance of love than to have nothing and yet be enfolded in the Father’s tender care. 7 If you wish to be truly loved and accepted, you must lay down everything that you look to for either remedy or avoidance. In so doing you will find the depth of the love of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Chapter 4

1 Our Savior’s command was that we should make disciples as we go about our lives. Who is following you as you follow Christ? Look around yourself. Who is God inviting you to lead toward the Kingdom? 2 Live your lives in such a manner that people see the Jesus that is in you and become desirous of following him. This does not mean that you live a perfect life since you continue to not do the things you should do and do the things you should not. Instead, be quick to confess your sins and quick to repent. 3 Honor the values of authenticity and accessibility, speaking the truth and opening your hearts and lives to those around you. This is high risk. You can be hurt and mistreated and mocked, but God will protect you and redeem your work and you will be blessed in the journey. 4 Do not be afraid for your reputation or your status. Our merciful God will be near when you are suffering. He will be with you all your days.
8 Greet each other with love and compassion. Greet our neighbors with joy. Find ways to engage those on the fringes of the community. Confess your sins to each other. Hold each other’s hearts gently. Offer hope. 9 I weep tears of joy as I reflect on the beauty of the community of the Village. It has been a delight to be with you from the very beginning. I thank God for you daily. God has greatly added to our number through his bountiful grace. 10 May he continue to call you and those you love to himself. Selah.