I really enjoyed getting to work on the video we saw during our worship service this last Sunday. In case you missed it, we had short video testimonials sent in by missionaries from around the world, telling us a little bit about the work that they are doing and thanking our church for partnering with them in their work. (You can watch it by going here.)
I’ve never met most of the folks in the video, but I know that many of you have very deep relationships with some of them and that all of them have some sense of connection to Flatonia and to our church. It’s incredible to think about how connected we are with people all around the world as we all work together for God’s kingdom.
Eight years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with the Singing Men of South Texas to Moldova – the smallest and poorest of the former Soviet republics. Sandwiched in between Ukraine and Romania, it was once the breadbasket of Eastern Europe and fed millions of people outside its borders. Now, however, it is struggling even to feed its own people.
We were there to do several things – assist with construction at an orphanage, sing for a large evangelism conference – but my favorite thing that we did was to participate in worship services at the largest Baptist congregations in the nation.
Each of these services was several hours long – the norm among Moldovan churches – and featured multiple sermons from multiple pastors/ministers within each congregation. Unfortunately, these sermons were always in either Romanian or Russian, the two main languages in Moldova.
Neither I, nor anyone else in our choir, spoke either of those languages, but we were always seated at the front of the room, so we needed to at least pretend we were engaged in what was happening so that we weren’t offending anyone in the room. That meant that we spent a significant portion of these services feeling very disengaged, self-conscious, and uneasy.
There was one part of the services, however, that was absolutely wonderful – the singing. As it turns out, Moldovan Christians sing many of the same songs we do, but in their language instead of English. Far and away the most popular song in Moldova when we were there was “All That Thrills My Soul,” which is a familiar song in English.
So, when the congregation would stand to sing, we would sing the songs in English and simultaneously hear the song sung back to us in Russian or Romanian. It was a fantastic reminder of something very important.
We were from a nation very different from theirs, located on the other side of the globe. We were from a capitalist nation, and Moldova still had a communist government at that time. We were extremely wealthy compared to them. We spoke English, they did not. We could not have been more different, except for one very important thing:
We all serve, love, and worship the same God.
Probably the definitive Scripture on this subject was written by the Apostle Paul in the book of Galatians. While addressing the differences between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians, he wrote:
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29 NIV)
No matter where we are, what we look like, what language we speak, or what country we are from, we all are one in Christ and share in the same hope for what is to come. All of the work we do – from our partnerships with missionaries around the globe to the work we do right here in our back yard – is in service of the same God and part of the same master plan.
We are truly blessed at Flatonia Baptist Church to have so many relationships around the world and to be able to play a role in reaching so many with the love and message of Jesus Christ.