World Changers July 24 , 2011
This will be a first for our church. Next Sunday during the morning worship service, we will receive new members. Like everyone who joins this church, these soon-to-be members were interviewed by our elders regarding their understanding of the gospel and their commitment to Jesus. Next week they’ll be received into our fellowship. Why is this a first? Because Spanish is their heart or first language. English – they’re still learning. Even during their interviews, Spanish speakers were present to smooth the conversation.
Like so many other ideas, this one started small. In a meeting of the Evangelism Committee two years ago, the ESL idea came up. Don Baret was there. He had just returned from a work assignment in Japan and was well aware of the difficulties encountered living in another culture without language skills. Out of that initial conversation, an ESL (English as a Second Language) program was begun. You may have heard the comment of one of the Muslim students. “Only in America could something like this take place,” she said, “All these people, coming from 27 countries, all gathering in one Christian church to study English. And it’s free!”
Now, two years later, the seed sown then is presently bearing fruit. There are actually two ministries in place – ESL on Monday nights (this will start up again in a few weeks) and a Spanish ministry led by Pastor Pablo. Monday evenings, 70-80 people are here to study English. Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. there is an ESL class which uses English as a study of Mark’s Gospel. This class helps those present to learn English from the Bible. On the same morning, in one of the adjacent offices, Pastor Pablo Toledo leads a Spanish worship service at 10:30 a.m. It will be some of these people who will join the church next Sunday.
All of this sounds so good, but the harder part of assimilating these brothers and sisters in Christ into our fellowship is about to begin. How will we communicate with them if we’re not conversant in Spanish? Should we begin a crash course in Spanish? We haven’t been down this road before, so we’ll have to start by trusting the Lord to lead us. What an exciting venture. We help to send 21 partners to various countries around the world, and the Lord is sending people from other nations to our very doorstep to whom we may minister. How like the Lord to do something unexpected like this. Next week, after they are received, be sure to take the time to welcome them to our fellowship. Use any language you wish, but welcome them. And give God your thanks.