In answer to our prayers, God is drawing people from all nations to Bethel. Two significant things that happened this week are evidence of this.
The first significant thing was the multicultural potluck held last Sunday. It was attended by over 70 people--several of them who have just recently joined the Bethel community. The dinner table featured dishes from at least 15 nations: Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Iran, Fiji, Guatemala, various African countries, Holland, Canada, and many more.
After the potluck, the group members gathered to describe interesting aspects of their various cultures. We learned that:
• Jamaica is not in Africa, as many people seem to think,
• and Kazakhstan is not part of Russia.
• People from some parts of Africa look downward to avoid eye contact with elders. While this is a sign of respect where they come from, it is sometimes interpreted as rudeness in Canada.
• In Iran, women look to one side when speaking with men in order to avoid eye contact with them. These women can find it difficult to change this habit when they come to the West.
• People in the Congo are known as good singers. When challenged to prove this, one of our Congolese participants sang beautifully in his native language.
There was a lot of chatting and laughing over the course of the potluck.
The other significant cross cultural event that took place this week was the first meeting of our church’s Truth and Reconciliation Team. Classis Alberta North has asked that all of the churches of the CRC denomination in our area form such a group. Our goal as a team, was to ask how Bethel Church could continue--in our church--the good work begun by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as it pertains in relationship between Canadians and First Nation’s peoples.
The seven people who met (including one Bethel member of Native Canadian descent) had a very constructive discussion. As a matter of fact, I found the unity of purpose we experienced surprising. I firmly believe it was a result of the Holy Spirit’s presence and help. The team is off to a great start, and we will report on progress as soon as we firm up our plans.
Bethel is a welcoming place that is becoming even more welcoming. In a very real sense, God is “giving us the world” (Not as that expression is sometimes meant—for our self-aggrandizement. Rather, He is giving us the world to love and to serve.) Your prayers and the love you are extending to others—even across racial lines—is making a difference
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