Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thoughts on racism (part 11)

[To read the entire series, click on "racism" on the sidebar under "POSTS BY CATEGORIES".]

Eldest Son recently attended a prayer meeting where he was the only "white" person there --- every other person was Asian in heritage. His descriptions of the passion that his fellow Believers brought to intercessory prayer made me so thankful that he is worshiping with believers outside of just his narrow ethnic and social boundaries. As I told him, the wonderful thing about fellowshipping cross-culturally is that we are able to see Jesus a bit more clearly, without our own cultural baggage --- baggage that we are usually incapable of realizing that we carry.

As the Body of Christ, what unites us is Jesus Himself. Culture and race should never divide us. Yes, there is something of great value in hearing the message of salvation in our "heart language", in being able to pray and fellowship in our native tongue. But there is something wildly freeing about stepping outside of our culture, outside of our race, and seeing Jesus as we've never seen Him before.

I fear that my words are woefully inadequate in expressing what I mean. Input, anyone? I'd love to hear about your experiences of cross-cultural church and christian fellowship.

Edited slightly for clarity.


  1. I think it was Martin Luther King who said something like the most segregated hour in all of America is 11 am Sunday morning. And that is still true. I struggle with that. My own church is about 97% white. There is a lot of economic diversity, which I think is a plus. Anyhoo.....

    Last Sunday was one of the most meaningful services I have ever attended at my church. We've been sponsoring a congregation in Maputo, Mozambique, for many years. Our guest preacher Sunday was a young man we've sponsored through Africa University, and now he's attending divinity school at Emory. He, his wife, and young child particiated in our services -- his wife sang a solo in an African language. The national language of Mozambique is Portuguese. And sort of spontaneously, our music director, a Brazilian of Italian descent, decided to offer to sing a version of the Lord's Prayer in Portuguese in response to the sermon, as a gift to the family. We were all in tears by the time he was done. And then the African pastor gave us our benediction in Portuguese. Nobody quite got it all, but it was so clear, through the service, that there was such a desire to please God and to offer up gifts of love, service, and tribute to each other that it was as meaningful as any service I have ever attended.

  2. Well, Rebecca, I remember once when we went to all black church, except for our white family. The music was VERY different. The women ran up and down the aisles with these long, colored scarves. Then everyone got up on the pews to dance. After about 4 hours of this, we had to take the last bus home because we didn't have our car yet, so we didn't get to stay for the sermon. It was definitely an unforgettable experience!

  3. Well said!

    Having just moved to the St. Louis area, I was very lonely for my family and friends. In other words, I would rather have curled up in a fetal position and cried all day long and I probably would have if it weren't for my many responsibilities which make me keep on keeping on.

    A few weeks after moving here, one of our neighbors, a couple from the Philippines invited us over for a Saturday lunch. I couldn't believe they wanted our whole family to come over but they did. We arrived at their home and were stunned by the amount of food he had cooked. It was amazing and I felt rather bad since our "little" family wouldn't even put a dent into it. He used to be a chef in a Chinese restaurant before he became a doctor so he loves to cook and it is the best I have tasted. Soon after we arrived, others started arriving until there were 50 or more of their friends and relatives there, too. I was amazed at the whole thing and the dynamics of the families that were so close since many generations live together instead of apart.

    As we were leaving, I thanked him for such a lovely time. I told him how much this had brightened my day since I had been missing "home" so very much. He told me that we were now part of his family and we were welcome there anytime. Well, that did it. I started to cry. And he stood there apologizing for making me cry even though I was explaining that it was not him at all.

    I can't imagine what I would be missing if I was only around people just like me. I would be missing so much beauty. I am also very pleased that my children have friends who are from the various different ethnic groups.

    Our church has many various ethnic groups and they have ethnic potlucks where the tables are dressed in colors from a certain country and then authentic dishes are brought from each of those countries. Wow! We have a Korean lady and a Japanese lady in our church who make some awesome sushi among other authentic dishes. I enjoy talking to them about their lives in these countries and getting their perspective on some of the issues that we face here. A lot of wisdom can be found there, for sure!

  4. We used to go to a large church in Milwaukee, WI where they truly blended the various different cultural aspects and it was done beautifully. Every Sunday was a bit different as far as the worship. The pastor there was a doctor who had served in Africa for many years. It was on Milwaukee's East side so we had many different ethnic groups represented along with the very "artsty" crowd. They were some of the best years of my life.