Belief In Action
Examples of putting your belief into action.
The Lord began laying a burden on my heart to reach individuals within immigrant language groups living in our communities.
I shared this concern with Kert, missions director at my home church. In closing, I said (confessed), "Perhaps the place I need to begin is to reach out to the Russian family living across the street from me." Kert responded, "You will be interested to know that there are about 150 Russians currently attending our church. One Russian brother, Peter, is starting a new church. He wants to develop an English-speaking church, rooted in Russian culture, focused on addressing the needs of those who are between cultures, allowing young people to use their talents and gifts without changing their identity."
THE FIRST VISIT
Attending Peter's Church.
A cross-cultural worship experience.
December 6, 2015, my wife and I attended Peter's church where we were graciously welcomed by the pastor and his congregation. It was their second Sunday to meet in their new facility. The foyer with its coffee bar was filled with happy chatter. We were ushered into their worship center that could accommodate 250 people. About 125 worshippers, led by an excellent worship team, enthusiastically participated. Pastor Peter's message dealt with the subject of water baptism. Then, eleven young people were baptized. After changing into dry clothing, the baptismal candidates stood across the front of the church, receiving bouquets and congratulations from their families in traditional eastern European fashion.
At the close of the service, I asked Pastor Peter if he would be open to an invitation to our home for a meal. He responded, "You know I am Russian. I still go to homes." Driving away from the church, I commented to my wife, "Pastor's statement is perhaps the most significant thing we have learned about this cultural church. Hospitality is a top priority!"
A few days later, my Russian neighbor was working on his car. I spoke to him about the new Russian church and invited him to attend with his family. Then, thinking of Pastor Peter's emphasis on hospitality, I invited his family to our home for a meal. They accepted and brought the traditional hostess gift of chocolates. It was a wonderful evening. We learned that they had grown up in a Communist family and had been in the US for 20 years. I shared my conversion experience with them. The father said that he believed there was a God, but that no one had ever talked to him about religion.
Two weeks later, my Russian friend and his parents attended Peter's church. They had been my neighbors for six years before I successfully presented the gospel to them. I regret that it took me that long to understand the value of hospitality within their culture.
What prompted me to take action? I believed that Jesus' command to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19) included my Russian neighbors. Why did it take me so long to go across the cul-de-sac? Before I went, I was merely affirming biblical truth. Now my actions, prompted by Scripture and cultural information, demonstrate that I truly believe what Jesus said.
Do you believe? If you do, begin by intentionally reaching out to those in your community who are different than you, immigrants who speak a different language. By God's grace, may we all believe, take action and see the hand of God at work in the lives of our new American neighbors.
BRING THEM IN
Vietnamese and Afghan refugees
Busses and Food
In the mid 1980’s Vietnamese and Afghan refugees fleeing war in their countries settled in neighborhoods around our church in Arlington, Virginia. A poster from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) hung in my church office picturing a forlorn woman in a refugee camp, with her head in her hands.
The haunting caption read, “A refugee would love to have your problems.” The picture was a daily reminder that many people in the world live in the midst of war, grinding poverty, difficult circumstances, and hopeless situations.
In those years, I picked up Vietnamese kids in a van and brought them to Sunday school. They lived in an apartment complex where you recognized the nationality of the people living there by the wonderful aroma of food wafting under the doors: Indian, Afghan, Salvadorian, Vietnamese, and Korean.
The International Ministry at Arlington Assembly of God hosted regular International Potluck Dinners inviting people for food and fellowship. Everyone feasted on the delicious cuisine proudly prepared by each nationality. We made new friends. The dinners and the church grew. A foretaste of heaven!
Ice Cream and the Gospel
A Bible—an Invitation—a Witness
Many of the residents of our area in America are Palestinian immigrants. I bought a box of Arabic New Testaments (available from worldbibles.org) and asked Jesus to show me who to give them to.
One day, a fully veiled woman passed our house pushing a stroller. I got a Bible and followed her down the street a short distance until I caught up with her. I greeted her and told her that I had a gift for her- an Injil (gospel) in Arabic. She said, “I can’t read this book- it is forbidden.”
“It has been changed,” she said.
I asked, “When?”
She looked at me and said, “I don’t know,” and slapped my hand as if to say “You got me on that one!”
The woman's defensiveness broke. Her little girl standing beside the stroller looked up at her Mom and said, “Can she come to our house for ice cream?” At her daughter’s insistence, the lady agreed.
When we got to her house, we all took off our shoes; she took off her veil, motioned for me to sit down in the living room and went into the kitchen to fix the ice cream while I played with the kids. For two hours we ate ice cream, played with the kids, and talked about Jesus.
More examples coming soon.
Share your Story
If you've had the opportunity to share the gospel with a new American, we'd love to hear your story.
Please use the form below to let us know!