When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel….
About 4 years ago I was at a great spot in my life. I was in seminary studying what I loved, I was (and am) happily married to the woman of my dreams, I was on staff at a wonderful church with amazing people who passionately loved Jesus, and we had just bought our 1st home in the small town of Holland, MI next to Lake Macatawa. I felt as if I had achieved the American dream!
During those years, we felt a strong calling to church plant but we didn’t know where. As we continued to pray, it became abundantly clear that God was calling us to a ministry that historically has not worked in the US: Multicultural Ministry. For generations, churches, and, on a grander scale, denominations have split over the issue of race. It is as if church and race in America are like oil and water, they just don’t mix. However, as I continued exploring our calling, I met with a young artist who explained to me how it is possible for oil and water to mix. Obviously, I was intrigued by this statement because science shows us that it is physically impossible for oil and water to mix, but out of curiosity I asked him “How?” He responded, “By emulsion.”
When an artist wants to mix oil based paints with water based paints, they add an egg as a third substance to hold the two paints together. That is when it hit me; multicultural ministry will not work unless the Holy Spirit is that third substance. We accepted and obeyed God’s calling in our lives.
As we continued seeking direction from the Holy Spirit, I was guided to a very interesting passage: Galatians 2:11-14
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
Here, Paul was rebuking Peter, who was the main leader of the church at the time, because of his discrimination towards a people group. This is when we realized that multicultural ministry is not an option, but rather in line with the truth of the Gospel. As my wife and I read this passage with tears in our eyes, we completely surrendered to God’s calling upon our lives.
The story continues. The Holy Spirit took us to Lansing, the capital of Michigan. Home to Michigan State University, which houses nearly 10,000 international students, and there are 120 different nations represented in the greater Lansing area. Lansing also has the most racially diverse school district in the state, but has a low graduation percentage within minorities. It was a perfect breeding ground for a multicultural ministry. We decided to name this church The Mix Church: a place that exists to provide a table where ordinary people can encounter an extraordinary God through Jesus Christ in the local community, in the nation, and around the world. During our pre-launch face we have been able to partner with several ministries that are making an impact in our city such as Hannah’s House that treats homeless pregnant women, and Intervarsity that empowers minorities in their faith walk at Michigan State University. We have also volunteered at the Lansing Jazz and Blues Fest and have gotten to know many leaders in our community. We have done all of this and we haven’t launched yet!
We are very proud for what God has done in our midst. He has empowered us to do the impossible, and as long as the Holy Spirit is at the center of our ministry, we know that we will mix well for His kingdom.
I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and take a leap of faith into your calling. God is a God of the impossible, and His kingdom is at hand. Take the leap, you won’t regret it.