Sunday morning, Emma and I attended the Woods Chapel congregation in Lee's Summit, Mo. After the service, (per usual) I stood around talking with friends on the front stage when Emma came up to me. "There's a lady in the back." she said quietly.
I stepped away from the group and looked down the sanctuary aisle, out the door, and into the fellowship hall. Sure enough, there was a lady sitting by herself on a bench. Since we are not members of the congregation, we found my Uncle Curtis (a Seventy and Woods Chapel attendee) to greet the lady together.
An immigrant from Iran, this was Mary's first time attending Community of Christ. Through broken English and help from Google Translate (English/Persian), we learned Mary obtained her Green Card and is now living with family near the church building; which she absolutely loved. Jesus Christ is important to her and she wants to share Christ with her grandchildren.
"Can I come back?" Mary hopefully asked.
I quickly returned to Google Translate and typed "all are welcome" in the English box. I handed my phone to her and she read the Persian box. She was overjoyed and excited! Fortunately, the congregation had a Thanksgiving Meal that night and we were sure to invite Mary and her family. We (including Mary!) concluded our conversation with high spirits and optimistic our continuing relationship with Community of Christ.
It's amazing how "welcome" translates both linguistically and emotionally. We are called to generously extend hospitality and invitation to all. No doubt this welcome manifests differently (i.e. relying on Google Translate), but nevertheless God continues to reveal God's self, especially outside of the sanctuary.
Just a thought about mission.
- Ryan and Emma