Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: MIX (10/22/15)
- TITLE: So Many Faces in So Many Places
By Trudy Newell
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I walked into First Fellowship Church and smiled. How can I feel so at home when I’ve never been to Nairobi in my life?
What a blend. The fledging church of 80 people was one-third Mzungu, one-third African and one-third Indian and Middle-Eastern mixed.
Not only was it a mix of color and languages, it was mix of music. We sang songs in Hindi, Gujarati, Swahili, and English as well as Tamil. “In the Name of Jesus” was sung in four different languages.
I came to appreciate these dear brothers and sisters in Christ who quickly became my family there. I think of the twin brothers saved from a Muslim background, who just happened to be millionaires. I appreciated Shem, with his guitar, a godly man whom we nick-named “Zaire Power.” I can’t forget, Punkaj, the chemist, from Gujarati. Bobby and Sandhia, from Tamil, spent hours at my home as did Irene and Sheila and the whole extended family from the Seychelles. I must toss in our African brothers and sisters, and the gang from England and America.
Because of the diversity in economic income, a benevolence committee at First Fellowship was essential. “Zaire Power” was the chairman. He amazed me with his ability to discern the real situation as requests were brought to the committee. This is when I learned to give through a channel, rather than giving as an individual. When Pam had surgery, I slipped some money to the committee and designated it for “Pam’s surgery.”
At the first Missions conference, six young adults committed themselves to serve the Lord wherever He led them. How I was encouraged and strengthened. I learn so many lessons from the body of Christ.
Transplanted to Pennsylvania, Grace Church quickly became my church family. My first Sunday I felt at home. My plans to visit around and find a church home were ended.
Grace was a totally different mix, heavy on Pennsylvania Dutch. I loved the preaching and teaching of the Word. The music ministered to me in a special way. For a year I just soaked up the blessings, before I became involved in teaching Sunday School and Awana.
When our Mission moved to Pennsylvania, several of us joined Grace Church. The Pennsylvania Dutch blended with a wild mix of missionaries, and Grace Church was never the same. This influx broadened the mission vision of Grace. My immediate boss was the chairman of the missions committee. Grace was in the city center. Awana drew a lot of local kids. What a joy to watch our church reach out.
No matter how vast the backgrounds and cultural differences, there is a common bond among believers. It’s an instant connection. I have experienced this on four continents. Now I am experiencing it in the South. Coming back to live in the States has been a change. Northeast Georgia is a mix of boiled peanuts, sweet tea, grits, and the Georgia Bulldogs. It’s a whole new culture.
It took us six years to find a church home, but find one we did. I can’t believe that Rock Branch is less than two miles away.
It was one of those times when I had a sense that this is where I belonged. The great preaching of the Word, the friendliness, and the open hearts serve to minister. Rock Branch Church, like every church, has its mix. I chuckle at the “family connections.” It seems that everyone is related to everyone else. So Mike and I are outsiders, which has advantages and disadvantages. Most of the people grew up in Rock Branch Church, and can remember when the organ was new. They tell us about building the “Family Life Center.” Couples have shared with us how they met in the youth group and got married at Rock Branch. Just last week one of these couples had a 50th wedding anniversary celebration at the church.
But family connections is not the only thing that makes Rock Branch unique. They truly love each other. They are missions-minded, and have a passion to reach out. The problem is they have never experienced life outside of Elbert County. It is hard for them to visualize the tremendous needs of a place like India or the Sudan. Maybe Mike and I can help stir the mix.
I marvel as I think about church body life. Heaven will be a wonderful place with so many different faces.
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