Neither the young pastor nor his wife would be considered ordinary. They are global Christians in a small setting. Small but not restricted. Their congregation is composed of men and women – actually brothers and sisters – who consider themselves one family. These beautiful people whose faces may look different and whose cultural backgrounds most certainly are, would have had no reason to come together as one family except for the fact of their common allegiance to one Lord, Jesus Christ, who by His Spirit has transformed them from non-kindreds into kindreds, the koinonia family of God. Formerly they did not even know one another; now they are the community of the Holy Spirit, taking responsibility for one another and sharing their lives together.
Many, if not most, pastors avoid such a multi-cultural church. They view it as a dead end for their success-oriented careers. But this couple welcomes it, saying that they “have no alternative but to be here.” This simply means that they are totally committed and are not continually seeking for a larger, more homogeneous church made up of people just like themselves. “But you have to speak bilingually all the time, and isn’t that difficult?” I asked. Their simple reply was “Hallelujah!” Their reply reminded me of St. Augustine’s words: “We are resurrection people, and ‘Hallelujah’ is our song!”
How refreshing to meet a man who has no authoritarian spirit because he has the spiritual authority that comes from intimacy with God and the leadership authority given to him by his people, who love and respect him. He allows his people to exercise their gifts, whether it be leading worship or small groups, or Bible teaching, or reaching out into the community. He is not threatened by laity who may be more gifted than he in certain areas. He is a minister who enables his people to minister. And his church continues to grow, reaching out to their community and the world. In a world where love alone is credible, this church bears witness to the width and depth of the Father’s love.
I told him when he invited me to conduct “revival services” at his church that I was not an accomplished “revival speaker.” His reply was, “That’s okay, I’m the revival speaker every Sunday, you just teach the Word.” I was happy to do that, since that is my calling.
A weekend spent in a small town church whose shepherd and his wife love and enable their flock to be nation changers was just what I needed to be reassured that the Kingdom of God continues to expand in communities and in nations around the world.