We cannot overlook the influx of "the nations" ready for the gospel.
Our first public service for Church of the Beloved launched on a cold Saturday afternoon in the diverse Near West Side of Chicago, surrounded by different African American, Mexican, Chinese, even historically Italian neighborhoods. Within walking distance is the University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the more internationally diverse universities in the country. We didn’t know it at the time, but from this location we started a church that would welcome people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Within a few months of planting, I felt prompted to ask my new congregation to stand if they were born outside of the States. I wondered what God was up to when more than half of the church stood up. The nations were coming to our church.
Our first conversion was a Thai American anesthesiologist. The day after his conversion, he shared his testimony with a group of international students who had just moved from Thailand. Through a translator, I was also able to share the gospel in their heart language. Only one person in the group had an idea of who Jesus was. This was their first time ever hearing of Jesus and it was in Chicago!
As I was finishing my gospel presentation, one of the students cut me off, exclaiming, “If this is the gospel, it’s too good to be true!” I replied, “Then you understand the gospel!” In that group of Thai students, one of the students turned to Christ and was baptized five days before she moved back home.
Soon after, a group of students who had moved from China that week walked into our church and filled up two rows. After the service, they approached me and said they had never been to church until that day. Because their English (especially theological English) was ...