Power of Fellowship

by Brother Brian Shimer

Culturally, I live in a place which deemphasizes the importance of the group. We are individuals! We do our own thing! We are our own person. What I know matters more than who I know. This reality might be even more prevalent in the Pacific Northwest for the spirit of individualism came with the first wagon trains into Oregon.

We all know the church is to be a place of community, of fellowship, of belonging, yet often still, individualism reigns. The Christian Ashram was a place where I encountered the importance of community and the gift of belonging to the group.

The first Christian Ashram I experienced was under the leadership of the gifted evangelist and storyteller Mary Webster. The joy I found in the community that stormy, rainy, flooded weekend lives on in my memory. There was something tangible about the sense of belonging to something larger than myself.

In August 1983, I led the youth for the Redwood Christian Ashram, but felt younger than the kids in youth group. It was in the prayer group I experienced the power of the group. Bill Hildebrand led my group, and I can still remember the feel of his hand holding mine. With his solid, strong hand around mine, God embraced me. I was upheld by God. It was the reality of the group.

There is power in community. Here’s what the apostle John wrote:

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)

We experience this fellowship as we walk with God at the Christian Ashram again and again. Truly, the fellowship cleanses us, frees us, and purifies us. Such a promise for the Ashram and for our lives is lived out in Christ day by day.