At our New Covenant Fellowship where we have been members for many years we have the blessed experience of being a part a multicultural congregation. Some of our people are from refugee camps in Nepal. We ourselves are American born, but our Pastor and most of the other people are from Brazil. While we may seem an improbable group in comparison with the typical church on the corner we are none-the-less, a growing church. We sometimes feel amazingly blessed and sometimes we feel isolated. We share in a unique community with a set of struggles,difficulties and joys that has enriched our lives beyond anything we could ever have planned or imagined.
So how does it play out with three languages, a variety of races and many cultural differences?
Since we have gradually assimilated into our adopted community we find ourselves with such a unique set of experiences, challenges, frustrations and joys that I have thought for a long time it may be a blessing to share with others what we have learned.
First God has called for himself a church from every tribe:
Revelation 7:9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb
In that God himself has called each of us, we have also discovered that God has gifted us all differently. Each “tribe” has a unique inheritance that is all their own, but God has called us together to make up the one nation which He has called the church. When we are pulling together rather than apart there are moments in our worship, at our prayers or during times of trouble that we begin to see the whole church. It has been said, that in America, Sunday morning at 11 AM is the most segregated hour of the week.
We once had a close friend from Northern Ireland who stayed with us for some time. In the Summer one of our delights is to go to one of the local ice cream shops and sample some of the amazing new flavors. But every time we would go our friend ordered only Vanilla ice-cream. One day I said, “Mark, I am buying and my only requirement is that you pick something that isn’t Vanilla! So finally He ventured out and tried the Pineapple and found it was “Lovely”. That is exactly what we have been experiencing in the church. We are going into the midst of God’s multifaceted grace and ordering up Vanilla every week. Vanilla is great friends, but there is more!
If we are following the commission of our Lord Jesus Christ to:
Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone …Mark 16:15
Then we might consider putting ours toes outside the door of our own culture, of our own language, of our own favorite foods and our own little circle of friends. All the world is a big and a diverse place! No one is excluded from our call. God is not ruffling our feathers and pushing us out of our sweet nests as a form of punishment but as a way of enrichment. There is nothing greater than being just one small part of God’s plan for the nations.
Next week: Leading worship in the Multi-Cultural church