by Mo Nakatsui
Since 2007 when I first went to Mississippi with the Katrina Relief Team, God has been encouraging me to develop a closer relationship with Him and with my fellow Christians. He told me that I needed to make this happen not just on a mission trip, but at home: to set aside time for Him and others, to share experiences with others, to share concerns, and be willing to plunge into the depths of who I am, my warts and all.
Three years ago, God had me go to the Branch that meets at Fred Kawashima’s house. It wasn’t the first Branch I’ve been a part of, but this was the first one where I started to feel a sense of being a member of a “band of brothers.”
All branches are about Bible study, prayer, worship and fellowship. These are foundational elements that are essential. But God was telling me that I needed to go deeper; I needed to get to LOVE. 1 John 4:8 says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Through the branch, I needed to learn to act out my love for God.
Service – Serve God together. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” [James 1:27] Our branch has gone to do repairs on four homes of widows and older women of our church.
Outreach – Encourage one another to be about making disciples. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” [Matthew 28 19] Our branch is learning to ask people we meet whether they would like us to pray for them.
Accountability – Strengthen each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” [Proverbs 27:17] Sharing our “God encounters” with fellow branch members is challenging each of us in working out our salvation and getting support from one another.