One Church- Many Languages

Unity in the Midst of Diversity

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I want to describe for you a day in the life of our church.  Forest Meadow Baptist Church is a multi-congregational church located in the Lake Highlands neighborhood of Dallas TX. It is one of the most ethnically diverse churches I know of. More remarkable than the diversity is our unity in Jesus Christ.  In spite of different languages and even some different doctrinal emphases, we all do life together in unity as God’s children.  And, it is my privilege to serve this church as the senior pastor.

A Day in the Life

Every Sunday morning around 8:15, I arrive at  our church facility. There are a few cars in the parking lot, owned by refugees from Ethiopia, who speak Afaan Oromo.  Walking into the main entrance, I hear the faint sounds of drums, a keyboard and some singing coming from the upstairs worship center.  I approach my office and now the sound is clear—it has a decidedly African rhythm and joyous melody.  The Oromo Praise Team is warming up for worship; their service begins at 9:30.

At 8:30, the English praise team enters the main worship center and begins to  practice—this music is more familiar and I understand the words. If I listen closely I can hear the juxtaposition of music from both praise teams as they praise God in their heart languages. In some ways, it is a cacophony; yet if I listen in the Spirit, I can hear the strains of a heavenly symphony.

By 9:30 the Oromo church’s worship service and the English language Sunday School begin.  Children from both the Oromo and English language congregations meet together. Red, yellow, black and white, all study the Bible together in His sight!  It is important for the children of first generation immigrants to receive special attention.  They don’t speak the language of their parents very well, if at all.  And their quest for assimilation into American culture is not always easy.  Hearing all the children interacting with the Lord through their teachers is always a joy.

The English  worship service starts at 10:50. We sing in both modern praise and ancient hymns. Being able to sing in our  heart language lifts our hearts to the Lord.  Both English and Oromo congregations conclude worship around 12:00, and exit the building together, greeting one another and fellowshipping together.  As we  leave, the Spanish congregation’s Praise Team warms up in the main worship center.  Their intercessory prayer team is in the prayer room, speaking to God in el lenguaje del cielo. This wonderful group of believers worship in Spanish from 1:00-4:00.

At 5:00, our Burmese congregation begins to worship in Burmese, and at 5:30 a congregation made up of Sudanese refugees begins to worship in the main worship center. They sing in Arabic; their preaching is done bilingually in English and Arabic.

It’s Not Just On Sundays

We are not a Sundays only church.  During the week, there are Bible studies and prayer meetings virtually every night of the week.  Food and fellowship abounds in our congregations and periodically all the churches meet together to celebrate what God is doing in our midst.

I don’t attend all the services every Sunday, but when I do, I come away exhilarated.   This is what our diverse city of Dallas is and it is what heaven will be like some day—a City of great diversity bound together in the Unity of Christ!

To God Be the Glory!

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