The English speaking church we attend in Mexico had an interesting beginning. We have met the Canadian couple who were instrumental in the formation of the church. I enjoyed hearing the story both from their perspective and that of the pastor.
After wintering in the area for several years, this couple could see the need for a church service in English. They learned of a pastor in the area who was bilingual and approached him with their idea.
He could see the merit in this but didn’t feel his language skill were good enough. After more conversation he thought it might be possible. “We can start next year” he said.
The immediate response of, “How about next week?” took him by surprise. Sensing this was God’s will, he agreed. The next Sunday fourteen people were in attendance for the first service in English. That was over ten years ago.
We appreciate the ministry of our Mexican church home. I have been privileged to be in attendance for both multicultural and outreach events with the English and Spanish congregations working side by side.
I am grateful for the pastor who didn’t feel equipped but accepted the challenge. He did not give in to the natural tendency to say, “No” or put off what seems too much to handle. Instead, he stepped out in faith and trusted God to lead the way.
This story has inspired me. I know that God has big plans for each of us. He doesn’t always call those of us who feel equipped. Instead, He calls those who are willing and equips them. When I step out in faith and trust the Lord, there is no limit to what He may enable me to do.
My husband and I attended a church service in another city and encountered something we’d never experienced before.
We were confused by signs proclaiming this was an upside-down church and wondered what that meant.
Someone quickly came over to introduce himself and explain the concept of an upside-down church.
He said they run on a four-week rotation that includes not only Sunday but how the congregation views the rest of the week as well.
Week one was UP, in which their focus was on new and growing relationships with God. Week two was SIDE, in which they came alongside each other in accountable and supportive community. Week three is DOWN, when they reach down in humble acts of service to bring justice, hope, joy and peace to their community. Week four is PARTY. This is when the church as a body celebrates what God has done during the previous weeks.
I thought of the difference I could make in the world if I was turned upside down.
Personally, I would spend more time getting to know God. When I focus UP, God is a priority and not simply an afterthought.
SIDE can be a challenge for me. I often come and go, make small talk and then have no further contact with these people until the next Sunday. It is up to me to make the effort to get to know people in order to build a supportive community.
DOWN is when I take time from my busy life to reach out in acts of service to those around me. It is incredibly rewarding to experience what happens when the love of Jesus is shown in practical ways.
Next, we come to PARTY, which to me means to celebrate. God does great things in and through us. These deserve to be celebrated.
It’s very possible the visit to this church will turn my world upside down.
My husband and I stood near the church entry, welcoming people as they arrived for the morning service.
Outside was a frigid -30°C. When people entered the building we shook their hands and I said, “It’s cold outside, come in and enjoy the warmth.”
My words had a double meaning. The first was obvious as the indoor temperature brought a welcome reprieve from the cold air outside.
The second was a little more subtle. Life can be challenging and the world often seems cold. The church should always be a place of hope and a refuge from the cold.
There is no need for anyone to brave the cold world on their own.
It goes even deeper than the church building. As a follower of Christ, it is my duty to extend a warm hand and friendly greeting to all. I was once told, “You may be the only Bible people come in contact with.”
When I show genuine care and provide a safe welcoming environment I am reflecting the light and love of Jesus. Only then will they trust me when I share the difference a relationship with Jesus can make in their lives.
There is no better way to come in from the cold.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)