Celebrating a message without boundaries

Published 9:34 pm Monday, November 8, 2010

Many times, things happen in my life to remind me not only that is God watching our every move, but also that He has a great sense of humor sometimes.

I got a call last week from Okpun Langley, who was calling to let me know about the third annual International Praise Festival at the Virginia Korean United Methodist Church. Virginia Korean UMC is the only foreign-language-speaking church in Suffolk, and it pulls members of the Korean community from far and wide to its place on Lee Farm Lane each Sunday. I’ve done stories on them before, so I was excited to go back.

I met with Okpun and with the Rev. Chul Ki Kim on Friday to talk about the festival so I could put a story about the event on the Faith & Family page on Saturday. I found out the third praise festival would bring together traditionally Filipino, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Korean, black and white congregations from throughout the area to celebrate their varying cultures and fellowship with one another. Above all, though, the purpose of the event was to remind all the participants that each church is a small but equal part of the true Church — the body of born-again believers in Jesus Christ.

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During our talk, Kim admitted that Koreans have a tendency to isolate themselves from the community, which is one reason the church makes a point to host events that include the entire community.

It’s not just limited to one group, though. It’s been said that America is most segregated on Sunday mornings, with each ethnic or racial group attending only the churches that have historically been “theirs.”

There’s nothing wrong with people attending the same churches where their families have worshiped for decades, harkening back to the days when public gatherings truly were segregated. But Christians ought to remember that Jesus Christ reached out to everyone during His ministry on earth — especially those who were outcast because of race, ethnicity, social status, disease and myriad other reasons — and that the gift of eternal life is open to everyone to receive by grace through faith in Christ.

After my talk with Kim and Okpun, we prayed together and I left, thinking what wonderful work they were doing to try to bring the area’s Christians together for fellowship.

When I got to my car and turned the key in the ignition, I immediately laughed and marveled at God’s sense of humor when I heard the Newsboys song that was playing on K-LOVE, my favorite Christian radio station. Here are the lyrics to the first verse, chorus and second verse of “He Reigns.” I think you’ll understand what I mean.

It’s the song of the redeemed rising from the African plain / It’s the song of the forgiven drowning out the Amazon rain / The song of Asian believers filled with God’s holy fire / It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation, a love song born of a grateful choir.

It’s all God’s children singing glory, glory, Hallelujah, He reigns!

Let it rise above the four winds, caught up in the heavenly sound / Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals to the faithful gathered underground / Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation, some were meant to persist / Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples, none rings truer than this.