The Incubator

This semester Stephen Tan and Samuel Muchoki completed the Incubator program in Melbourne. In the style of a New Testament epistle, Samuel wrote a letter of reflection and encouragement to the rest of his Incubator cohort. He extends the metaphor of a chicken egg in an incubator to explore the journey of training in ministry. His address is to the rest of the students as he and Stephen leave them, but are encouraging words for everyone to hear. 

Samuel called to be a servant of Christ Jesus by the will of God. To my brothers and sisters incubated in Melbourne: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because of your desire to equip yourself with the knowledge of communicating the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This, the reason you have decided to enter shells and incubate.

I would have loved to stay with you but I cannot stay much longer. I have been constantly reminded by our brother Chris that my shell has cracked and I have to come out. Yes, not only I but also my brother Stephen. You all received that letter from our dear brother Chris. You know His works. I bear witness to his works. You know how he longs to impart to you some spiritual gift to make your egg white and yolk strong. And how he constantly reminds you the importance of allowing grace to renew the way we communicate about the gospel. He is a dear brother in Christ.

To leave no doubt in your minds that we ought to leave you, and in fact that we must leave, the letter reminded you that Stephen and I have been incubating for two years. And that we were mature eggs ready to hatch. Therefore, it was not optional for chicks to stay among you.  In fact, it is not pleasant because the chicks may start busying themselves with poking other shells instead of learning how to walk and fly.

And now my brothers, I am convinced of this: my time has come to leave. I say this because Chris has also brought with him our elder brother Andrew. You know Andrew.  You know his works. He does not fly from Sydney to Melbourne for nothing. He carries a gospel rake that pulls away chicks from the incubator.  Both Chris and Andrew have good thoughts for all of you. You bear witness to that.  They both enjoy incubating eggs and kicking out chicks from the incubator immediately after hatching. They do this out of a pure heart: they desire that though the chicks walk on the ground for a little while, they will soon mature and fly the gospel across the city. 

And as you fly, you embrace two visions, a vision for the ministry that our Lord Jesus Christ has entrusted you, and a cooperate vision for the city. The second vision helps us to understand that we are united in purpose! The two visions start and end with the grace we have all received from Christ.  I thank God through Jesus Christ for such sound teaching.  This has become a lens through which I gospel the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As I leave you today, I feel thoroughly equipped to withstand the weather outside the incubator. I am convicted that the Holy Spirit will continually teach me. I pray to remain in His presence. Many times, while in my shell, I have struggled with things. At times the conditions inside the incubator felt uncomfortable; parts of my egg white and the yoke were being stretched and shrunk in various ways. Sometimes I felt comfortable because the heat of the teaching was bearable; but many times, the little things I cherished in my yoke would soon be consumed. I write this to encourage you; so that you do not become comfortable in the shell. But it is for your own good that you become uncomfortable as I did.

We are preaching the gospel in a city where many things have been normalised. But what is a norm is not always what is truthful and acceptable before our Father in heaven. So, we have to be wise in the way we communicate Christ without changing the meaning of who He is. We have to understand the times we are living in. Not only the times but also the society. Many are being trapped by the evil one to not see the saving grace of Christ.  This trap is embedded in the façade of modernity and progress.  Being humbled to enter this shell for two years, has given me some tools to communicate Christ in a serpent like way and present the gospel in a dove like fashion.

When I started incubating, I did not have a vision for the ministry. Later, I was able to develop a vision. But since then, I have never taken rest in reviewing the way I communicate the vision. I used to say “we do life together”...but as I ate and drank the teachings in the incubator, I have been left with one story to tell: it’s all about Christ.  It is a story that helps me to see Jesus in every scripture, a story that reminds me the central focus of the way I communicate the grace of God, a story that helps me to reflect how the deeper things of my heart influence the way I communicate Jesus. This story gives me rest and continual stirs my enthusiasm in pursuit of what I have been called to preach in this city: the gospel.

I am aware that we have all come together with various teachings in the past. Some of you love the teachings of Piper; others love the teachings of Keller. Some like the teachings of some more than others. Others love the teaching of others.  Let there be no quarrel among you. Bear with one another; critique each other but do not fight.  For if one says, I like what Chris says about the gospel, and another says I like what Andrew says, what does it matter?  If Chris incubates the eggs every day and Andrew comes with a shovel to chase the chicks away, what does it matter? If Chris says the egg came first and Andrew says the chicken came first, what does it matter?  None of the eggs or the chicks belongs to either; the eggs and the chicks belong to Christ. So, both work for Christ and they will receive a reward. Let us remain united in purpose as we work with one another to preach the gospel in the city.

I have much to say to you but time may not permit me to write. In all things, I pray for you, that just like me, your desire is to win souls for Christ by communicating His grace to everyone. Now that I have hatched, I leave behind my shell with our brothers Chris and Andrew. To the ones who enter it, may this shell provide an uncomfortable environment to a degree that they will become comfortable in communicating the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in their ministries and in the city. I also pray for the incubator that houses the eggs. That it shall never lack and that our father in heaven will equip it with every good thing that comes from Jesus Christ.

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Reflect on all that you have been taught; strive to graciously preach the full gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. Hilda, my wife and coworker, greets you.  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen!