Written by Judy Davis & the TCS Missions Committee
“In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.”
–Hymn by John Oxenham
Looking out into the world – we see a few glimpses of God’s work among the nations to share with the TCS congregation.
One Multi-ethnic, Multi-class Church
Bringing into reality “one multi-ethnic, multi-class church” drives the work of Jay Stoms at Christ Church in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Christians from 10 nations gather for teaching and fellowship around the gospel. Students from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho, South Korea, the Philippines and USA come together to worship, each with their own culture, customs, and languages, reflecting the great diversity of God’s kingdom. They are learning to relate to one another as brothers and sisters because Jesus is their brother.
As you probably know South Africa bears a sad colonial history of exploiting and denying rights to its native population. Apartheid, the system of laws condoning racial segregation and discrimination, was only repealed in the early 1990s. South Africa had its first multi-racial elections less than 30 years ago. Needless to say, Jay strives against the ongoing influence of the attitudes and behaviors embodied by these laws as he brings together people from these various nations and seeks to have Christ Church embrace and include them in the congregation.
Honoring Culture through Translation
Ever had to learn a new language? Ever been forbidden to speak your own? One of the ways people are oppressed is to deny them their language. One of the ways to show hospitality is to learn a person’s language.
On Pentecost Sunday we experienced the beauty of the diversity of languages that will be evident in that great gathering of people from “every tribe and language and people and nation” before the throne of God described in Revelation. Jim spoke Italian; Sung-bin spoke Korean; Alex spoke Spanish; Ben spoke Turkish… Missionaries involved in translation make this diversity of languages a reality and honor the people who speak them.
In a mountain country in Central Asia a people is rejoicing in the first dictionary in their language. Not only that, they are excitedly reading the portion of the New Testament our missionary has been able to work on. This missionary also helps other translators use translation software so that even more languages (and the people who speak them) experience God’s Word.
Another oppressed people in a country of the persecuted church have the entire New Testament thanks to the persevering work of another one of our missionaries. Translation of the New Testament takes roughly 20 years to complete. That persecuted church is also being helped by discipleship materials our missionary writes to help them understand the Scriptures.
Modeling Welcome; Overcoming Hatred
Where is the US neighborhood with the highest concentration of Arab Muslims? Well, one of our missionary couples lives there as they work to train the next generation of missionaries to the Muslim world.
Of course they enjoy getting to know their Muslim neighbors, speaking Arabic and experiencing the culture and people they came to love and learn from during nearly 20 years in Yemen, so it wasn’t easy to hear: “In ‘Nam, we took people like you and shot you outside the village,” from another neighbor, who hates the Muslim neighbors and by extension hates those who befriend them. To quote from our missionary: “It’s not been pleasant. We try to love and speak wisely. We appreciate prayers for wisdom and our modeling Christ, [open] doors to share with our Muslim neighbors; for God to free and change this broken couple.”
Sharing the Gospel
In a sanctuary city laundromat some children with their Somali mother nearby played with a boat. The boat had something like a house or shelter on it and there were lots of little animals – a horse, a giraffe, a lion, etc. – and some people figurines. A nurse in training to go to the Muslim world walked into the laundromat. She’d recently been rather bored during her apologetics session with our missionary on sharing the gospel; she was a nurse, going into medical missions, when would she need that?
The nurse greeted the Somali family. Did the child know the name of the animal? A horse! How about this one? A giraffe! But the boat and the animals and the people had a story that went with them. Did they know the story? Did they want to hear it? The nurse was beginning to understand just how even she might encounter opportunities to share the gospel cross-culturally.
Well, the story of Noah and the ark was told. The nurse offered to share more about Noah and the Bible and was welcomed into the home of Somali immigrants.
Our missionaries are experienced at crossing divides, be they cultural, ethnic, racial, class, or language, to reach the people God loves.
They are experienced at building bridges across the divides to honor the image of God in people and bring them to their creator through Jesus Christ. How can they enrich our experience and what can we learn from them as we seek to welcome those we encounter into the body of Christ?
Only one of our missionaries was forced to return to Washington because of the COVID-19 pandemic and that was because he was outside the country where he serves when the border closed. However, he was able to continue to minister remotely. All the others remain in place save one family where security concerns forced them off the field.
To find out more about missions at Trinity contact Judy Davis (Global Missions Chair) at email@example.com.