Look around your church....what do you see?
Look around your church....what do you see?
Do you see a group of people made up of "all nations, tribes, and tongues"?
Or do you see a church that is made up of people that look just like you?
When you go to church do you skim the congregation only looking for people you know so you have someone to talk to because it's just easier and more comfortable?
Or....do you look for new faces....faces that don't look like you...to help them feel loved and welcome even if it's uncomfortable?
Are your immediate and intimate friends made up of people that look, act, eat, and play..... just like you?
Or, have you made it a point...consciously or unconsciously, to have friends that are different than you and you find yourself truly enjoying, getting to know and appreciating your differences?
If you fall into either of these two categories....then YAY!!!
This book giveaway is for you!!
Before I was a Christian and after I left the military, I began attending a small town church in New Mexico. It was a diverse crowd for being a small town church...but that is just reflective of the way New Mexico is.
After God saved me and after meeting and marrying my husband I moved to Virginia to start a new life. I began attending his church and immediately I was thrust into an ethnically lop sided reality. Gone were the days of being around any Mexican people, Puerto Rican people, Asian people, Middle Eastern people, Indian people etc. I was automatically immersed into an almost 50/50 split community of black and white. I would joke with my new church family that I was feeling deprived of Hispanic people and I would purposely go hang out at the tomato and jalapeno section of my nearest Walmart just to see other Mexican's or Hispanics.
Never had I experienced such lack of diversity. Even my short tour in the military gave me the joy of being around beautiful diversity and I loved it and missed it.
Virginia on the other hand...was a completely foreign world.
One thing I noticed right away was the fact that the church we attended was predominately white. It would have been safe to say 95-98% white. To make matters worse, it was right across the street from a majority black high school and was centered in a part of town that was both black and white. I asked others about the statistics that made up our church and I was told black people had their own churches. I came to the very sad realization that the universal body of Christ worshiped God in very segregated ways on Sunday mornings.
As a new Christian, this was hard for me to understand.
And...I found it odd and definitely uncomfortable even though my immediate church family welcomed me and loved me.
This encouraged me to start a small ESL program to help our church embrace diversity and loved meeting and teaching the diverse crowd that made up my small class. We had Mexicans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorans and even someone from Togo, West Africa that spoke only French. My West African student even felt comfortable enough to start attending our church with his son and we grew to love his family.
When we moved to a small Texas border town to pursue missions work on the border...the lop sided-ness continued....except this time the community we found ourselves in was approximately 80% Mexican and 20% white. Even though I was around a whole heck of a lot more Hispanics than in Virginia, I found myself once again one of the very few brown faces in an all white church.
I had the privilege of serving along side a wonderful friend at my former church in Texas where the majority of the kids we taught were Mexican. I once asked her if it was hard to connect with them since she was white and they were Mexican and what were the challenges that came along with it. Let me add that she was a pretty great teacher and the kids connected well with her.
She expressed to me that she didn't see them as Mexican kids, but just as kids that need Jesus. She said she did not look at their skin color or even their Mexican-ness and just saw kids.
Her answer was correct but I think it was only half correct. I began thinking about and wrestling with her answer.....but not because it was wrong per se...but because it was incomplete.
Yes....I agree 100% that all kids need to see and know Jesus.....and as teachers to kids, we need to love them without boundaries.....as Jesus does.
However, this "without boundaries Jesus-love" does not apply only to Sunday school teachers on Sunday mornings with kids that don't look like us, but across the board to ALL Christians. We should be showing "without boundaries Jesus love" to believers and non-believers alike...especially to those that don't look like us and/or make us uncomfortable because they are so different from us.
Christ did not and does not save us to create Sunday morning bubbles of Christians that look alike, worship alike, and find comfort and ease in segregated circles.
I am not saying this is a white issue, black issue, or brown issue....but a people made in the image of God issue. It's almost an embarrassing elephant in the room when the secular world, and all the stuff it has to offer, embraces and does diversity so much better than Christians at church on Sunday or any other day that we congregate to worship and praise our God who created all of us.
We need to see each others differences....understand each others differences......and learn to love our differences.....so that we can be better equipped to walk along side each other in the midst of our cultural and ethnic differences....IN ORDER to be united in Christ.
God made us beautifully diverse and we miss out on enjoying the beauty of diversity when we only stay among people that are like us.
The problem is bigger and the issues are more extensive than I can explain here....but.....I am very impressed with Christian author, Trillia Newbell, who wrote a book about her experiences in the churches she found herself in.
I love what Trillia says here in this short video clip.
Also, don't forget to enter your email address for a chance to win one of the 2 copies of her book that I'm giving away.
Thanks dear wonderful on purpose diversity seeking reader!!!