We couldn’t possibly share all the stories from every church we speak at, it would take pages and ages. The way each church has received us treated us like family and prayed over us has been a blessing. It can be a lot of relational strain on the kids already, to be on the road every weekend – missing their friends and teachers at our home church, and visiting so many others. But it has helped as our kids have heard us talk about, and experience for themselves – we are meeting family members for the very first time.
As a pastor who has served in this area since June 2006, it’s been awesome to see churches and join for worship with people who I’ve heard stories of for over a decade now. God is doing so many great things in places all over the Central and Southern Illinois regions, and even moving purposefully into Missouri and beyond!
This past weekend was unique, in that we were able to visit two of our Free Methodist Churches in the Saint Louis area that are Spanish-speaking. The bi-lingual experiences of worship & prayer were great reminders, filled with the Spirit, and also opportunities for our children. As English speakers, we will be in the minority when we travel to Hungary – which will help put a new perspective on many prayers and scriptures.
One that hit home was a moment toward the end of worship with Ministerio Apostolico Plantio Del Señor (MAPS), and Pastor Javier Quintana invited our family to the front. He asked us to turn around and face the congregation, as well over 100 people extended their hands toward us. He asked his congregation to look at our faces and to remember us in their prayers as they committed to supporting us over the year ahead. He reminded them – “Many of you know the struggle of leaving a place and language you’re familiar with.” Many of them are familiar with caring for their family as they travel into the unknown, putting the details into the hands of God. We felt their love and prayers and were blessed to share these moments and hear their commitments to continued prayer.
All of that to say – remember these things as you gather for worship this weekend. You are part of a much larger family of God. Most of our global family doesn’t speak the same language as you, and yet they are familiar with the burdens on your heart. Lift them up in prayer, and allow God to connect you with them in Spirit. It’s the desire of the heart of Jesus – “ that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21, NIV) I think the more time we spend recognizing the global family we’re a part of – the richer our prayers become, and the better our ability to love others.