I especially appreciated Jim's emphasis on the need for stronger, deeper relationships with the people whom we seek to serve in the unthinkable grace of the gospel.
A couple of loosely-quoted Hatchisms: There are no real relationships with people until they've been in your home or you've been in their home. ... The solution [to the challenges of multi-cultural ministry] is not finding some "magic" person/pastor. The solution is breaking through your own fear. The solution is deeper relationships. ... For multi-cultural ministry to work, friendships must go deeper, everything will have to take longer, and you're going to have to endure the loss and sacrifice of some of your preferences.
We ended yesterday's worship service with a benediction that Richard Halverson wrote and used throughout his ministry. Halverson was the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate for years. Before that he was the Sr. Pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland.
He was once asked the following question: "Pastor Halverson, what was the most significant thing you did at Fourth Presbyterian Church that brought vitality and spiritual strength to that congregation?”
Halverson seemed to be embarrassed by the question at first. But eventually he began to answer. What would the answer be, one might wonder? His awesome preaching? His great church staff? Some incredible church program?
No. He said: "I think it was my benediction.”
Halverson always ended the worship service with these words to his congregation: "Wherever you go, God is sending you, wherever you are, God has put you there; He has a purpose in your being there. Christ who indwells you has something He wants to do through you where you are. Believe this and go in His grace and love and power."
These words are a powerful reminder. God has put you where you are. And you are called to courageously engage this world -- in the place where your sovereign God has called you -- on behalf of His mission.
"Remember, you are never more like God than when you are living in relationships with God's people and working in partnerships for the re-creation and redemption of God's world."
~ Ray Bakke