Speaking Our Language

This week we are discussing the Gospel being spread to the Gentiles.

I need to open this devotion with a confession. I am about to tell a story from memory that I really wanted to find online so I could get the details right, but I could not find it. I found others a little like the one I remember, but not the exact one. There is a chance I saw it in a print magazine that no longer exists. I am confident I have the gist of this story correct and it happened 20-30 years ago.

There was a church that was older in every sense of the word. The building and the congregation were on the senior side. Over time the neighborhood around the church changed, and the typical new family moving in was from Latin America. This older, traditional church wanted to reach their community with the gospel but was struggling. Despite their best (and sincere) efforts, they just weren’t bringing new families into their church. As their regular membership aged, many moved or died. Attendance kept shrinking to the point that they just didn’t need so much space anymore.

Nearby was a newer church that met in a much smaller building. It was having a great impact on the community and was reaching the families that the traditional church was not. The older church prayed about the situation and approached their neighbor church with a startling idea.

They offered to trade buildings. What a beautiful and selfless act of love.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speaking in other languages and declaring the greatness of God. Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Acts 10:44-47 (HCSB)

In my foggy memory of this story, the recipients of the new building were humbled and amazed at the generous gift. I also recall that the older congregation that had increasingly felt like an outsider in its own neighborhood suddenly became more integrated into the community after the swap.

We may not always know the best way to love our neighbors, especially if they are from different backgrounds, cultures, and nations. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to find a way.

For they heard them speaking in other languages and declaring the greatness of God. Acts 10:46 (HCSB)

By Mark Stuart

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