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Change is Happening All Around Us ... or Is It?

Posted by Don Sappington , 22 February 2013 · 1087 views

Change is happening all around us ... or is it?

I'm sure you have noticed the changing face, the changing ethnic mix in America and in your community. Frequent a mall and people watch for twenty minutes, you'll see it. Drive in to you local mini-mart or pull in for gas you'll see it. And if you have been to a major amusement park recently, oh my goodness, you have seen it!

Did you know that in the Houston, TX area there are some 23,000 international students attending our Universities? The increasing numbers of international students in regions like San Francisco/Oakland, CA are estimated at 33,000; Boston – 36,000; Los Angeles – 55,000; New York – 60,000. Research indicates that 75% of these will never enjoy the hospitality of an American’s home. 80% will never attend church while in America. This is a tragedy – a missed opportunity.

We could go on with stats illustrating the flow of the nations coming to our communities, but the fact is WE ALREADY KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE.

So with all this change happening around us, our communities transforming right before our eyes, have our churches kept pace? What I really mean is--Does your church reflect the ethnic mosaic of your city?

Ok, now I’m meddling. How are you responding to the changes of your community? How are you the church responding? I confess at times I get irritated as I strain to make out the stumbling attempts at English by some venders. I confess I wrestle how to resolve the undocumented resident issue. I confess I make sure my car door is locked as I slowdown in some unfamiliar neighborhoods. But it is also clear that at this moment in history the nations are among us and we have the unprecedented opportunity to share the love and express the mercy and message of Jesus Christ to them. I can’t help but think Jesus would include these as He looked over our cities and declared with groans of compassion, these are sheep that need a shepherd.

What would God have us do? If Jesus were walking with us through our neighborhoods, into our mini-marts, living in our cities, how would He direct our responses, our actions? Well, friends, He does direct us every day as we follow Him. Are you tuned in to His promptings? Are you truly His hands and voice to this hurting and diverse world? And, as long as I’m meddling, are you seeing this ethnic diversity reflected to any large degree in your church?

So what if we each began by …

· taking a virtual inventory of our world, our setting. Write down the ethnic mix that you have observed in your setting, taking special note of those that you have personal contact with along the way. Do you know any of them? Do any of them have connections with your children or friends?

· brainstorming what you might be able to do to begin a relationship? For example: I could frequent that mini-mart regularly and strike up conversations; I could meet the parents of the child my son has played with at school; I could take a plate of cookies to the neighbor who is of a different ethnicity; etc.

· checking with local agencies who work with immigrants and ask if they need volunteers for the services they deliver

· checking with ISI (International Student International), Campus Crusade, or InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to see if they are working with international students in your area to discover how to get involved as a volunteer (www.isionline.org ; www.campuscrusade.com ; www.intervarsity.org )

Bottom line, find a new friend; be a friend; find a need and meet it. Do something in the name of Jesus.

“I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there – all nations and tribes, all races and languages…standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing: Salvation to our God on his Throne! Salvation to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10 MSG

Friends, by God’s sovereign decree He has given us, His Church, the task of inviting the nations to gather around the throne. Many from those tribes and nations who God wants worshiping Him have moved in around you – they aren’t just in some distant land!

Worship of King Jesus needs to start right here, right now. As we share the love of Jesus with those around us let’s welcome them into our churches. Let’s not repeat the church tragedy that in part led to the start of the C&MA. Years ago the immigrants, the social poor and others who came to faith under the ministry of A.B. Simpson were turned away by his church because they were “not like us.”

Is this kind of change happening in your church? Friends, our churches need to be filled with those not like us, those on a journey toward Christ, those from all walks of life, all ethnicities. Now that would represent change that reflects our communities – that’s real change.

Let’s complete the task God has given to us. Let’s reach the nations – the nations scattered globally and the nations who have come to America.

Love them.

Demonstrate the mercy of Jesus to them.

Invite them to worship with you the God who loves them.

  • David Manske, elizabethcog and Cindy Hayden like this

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