. . . and Asian nations too, giving us quite a diversity of races.
But being multicultural is more than just having a number of different nationalities represented; it is also about working together as one. This calls for a conscious effort in breaking down walls that divide, working to bridge the language and culture barriers, and to have genuine love and acceptance for each other. It is about building unity in the midst of our diversity of nation, race, language, culture, and background.
Unity is at the heart of the gospel. Jesus died not only died for people of all nations equally he also prayed for unity and that his followers “be one… so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17: 21). Such unity is more than a dominant culture being gracious enough to include minority ethnic groups; it is a unity that values cultural diversity in all dimensions of church life.
I’m sure that for many of us becoming a multicultural church is both a delight but also a challenge for us no matter what our nationality. It is quite encouraging to see how we take time and effort to care for each other across our different nationalities. What is more, for every act of care we see there is just as much going on that is not seen. All of this is critical for the ongoing health and growth of the church.
No matter what our nationality, perhaps our greatest hurdle is our attachment to our own culture in the face of our diversity. We have different worship styles, different decision-making processes, different approaches to hygiene, different ways of playing (especially with children and young people) and we could go on. Whether we are Anglo, Karen, Dutch, Filipino, Chin, Finish of some other origin, to live in unity we have to accept our differences, move out of our comfort zones, put aside our negative judgement of each other’s’ cultures and commit to be God’s people above all else.
Yesterday morning our speaker was Joel Ortiz who is no stranger to us. Joel Ortiz was born in the Philippines where he was both a Bible College principal and a pastor in a large church. He is currently leading a church plant here in Hobart called Mabuhay Christ Homes and as part of his 2020Vision role is helping us in our journey of becoming the church God wants us to be.
It is exciting to see what God is doing here at Hobart Baptist Church, and an encouragement to observe our care for each other. Let us continue to pray that God will grant us grace and love as we work at being God’s people together.
Stephen L Baxter