It had been a pleasant visit which I felt certain should conclude with a prayer. My guest that Friday afternoon was an ordained pastor, “Pastor P”. Pastor P. had been conversing with me in English for all of our visit. We discussed the call God had placed on his life, which led him to become ordained. He had started a church in Delaware, but heard the call of God to help another pastor in Wisconsin who needed someone to serve while he was on an extended medical leave. So, Pastor P. came. When that assignment ended he heard the call to start another church in the same city in which I serve. And now he looks for a church building in which to build a new congregation.
Sometimes God has a way of humbling me in a mighty way. I sat in my comfortable chair in a study lined with shelf upon shelf of books, where I had spent the afternoon on my computer preparing for Sunday. I am blessed to serve in a beautiful church with many dedicated families. And here, across the desk from me, was this much younger man who works four days, twelve hours a day, so that he can devote his weekends to trying to start a church. No salary. No study. No computer. Just an unshakeable faith that God is preparing to open doors so that the Spanish-speaking people in our city can have another place to worship. I think of the time that Jesus sent out his disciples with only the bare necessities and told them they would be taken care of. I always marveled that they would obey such a command. Now, sitting across from me was a modern day disciple sent out with the bare necessities. Sometimes people really do take the words of Jesus literally. Go figure.
The ironic thing about the timing of this visit is that I am in the middle of preaching about how Jesus taught his disciples that the barriers society puts up, barriers like language and race and even religion, need to be torn down if we want his Kingdom to fully come. It is one thing to preach this in the abstract, as if it applies to someone else. But now it applies to me. Today. Do I dare shake my comfortable world by beginning a conversation with our leaders about opening the doors of our church to people who worship in a different language, who look different from “us” and who will worship in a style foreign to what we know to be the way to worship God?
I asked Pastor P. to pray for us. “I normally don’t pray in English,” he said. So, I suggested he pray in Spanish. In that prayer I got a little peak behind the curtain of what is to come, people from every tongue and tribe praising God together. “What do you think, Pastor Bill? Will your church be able to help us?” Whose question is that, really?