The Headache and Hope of Multi-Ethnic Ministry

Adam Mabry | February 7, 2017

Recently my denomination of churches, Every Nation, gathered for our global get-together in Cape Town, South Africa. There was a tangible buzz in the air among the 5,000 or so delegates. Most striking was the diversity of the room. As the conference opened, a funny story was told.

A young American man was introducing himself to the woman who would later become his wife. In meeting her, he broke almost every rule of polite Japanese society. As she began to bow, he went in for the handshake. Their heads collided, leaving them both with quite the headache. What makes for a funny story now was terribly embarrassing in the moment.

And so it goes for many of our attempts at diversity.

Headaches Aren’t New

Jesus’s disciples were all from the same Jewish culture and ethnicity. They grew up just miles from each other. They must have been utterly gobsmacked, then, at Jesus’s instructions: “You are to bear witness to these things to all nations.” They were Jewish, living in the epicenter of Judaism, and following their Messiah. What in the world could he mean by sending them to “all nations”?

Since the church was initially slow to get around to the “all nations” part, God allowed a severe persecution that…

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