What It's Like to Be Back in the American Church
(credit: life creations@flikr)
If you happened to sit next to my husband and I in church these past few weeks, you might wonder why tears are falling down our cheeks. Did we just have a fight? Are we hurting? What is the matter with those people? If you asked us why, we would tell you that we are overwhelmed by the words of the songs and what those words say to our souls. We would tell you how God is using those songs to reach a place in our hearts that needed healing and to remind us of important truths. We are so grateful to worship without having to think about things like security issues. I didn't realize how much all of that affected me until I didn't have to worry about it anymore. One of the purposes for our time here in the states is to regroup and refresh. Part of that is spending time in worship with others, listening to sound teaching, and even getting to be a part of a weekly bible study. We are blessed to be a part of each of these.
At times, it is awkward. Most of the places where we have attended church, we only know a few people, and outgoing is not a word you would use to describe my family. Being new has its challenges especially for our teenagers. It is also hard to know what to say and what not to say. So mostly we try to observe. Getting over the newness takes time which is why our family is trying to mostly attend one church most of our time here.
It has been interesting to see what each of my children need in their time here. Our son loves to be a part of everything he can each Sunday and is slowly making new friends. Last Sunday night, we almost had to go hunt him down because it was getting late and he wasn't home. He was just helping clean up after his meeting. On the other side, our daughter needs something more in depth and attends a youth group at another church with her best friend. She describes the youth group as hard core. You will have to ask her what that means.
It has been inspiring to see God at work in the churches we have been to whether it is through missions, service projects, bible studies at local schools, or helping out widows and single moms. It has been sad in some places to see hurt over something that has happened in leadership and smaller congregations due to misunderstandings. It has been a disconnect as I listen to others stories and try to understand where they are coming from. It is not that their problems are not real and valid. I have no context to put it in right now. Lastly, it has been encouraging hearing the word of God preached boldly even when that word challenges the cultural norm.
In the past year, I have read many critical things about the American church and I am sure that some of them are true. From my observations so far though, I see a remnant that is faithfully serving their saviour as best they know how. I see a need for prayer for this remnant to grow and multiply. A need to pray that they will remain strong and that God's spirit will rain down and open the eyes of those that cannot see what God can and will do when we just step out in faith. Right now I am thankful to be able to worship and listen to the word each week in a country where we are still free to worship Jesus openly.
Dear God, Thank you for your church. May we walk in your righteousness and not our own. May our hearts be open to your words. May we worship you in spirit and truth. Work in us. Revive us. Send us out to do your will. In Jesus name, Amen