A Glimpse of Heaven
Sunday was one of those times when I got a foretaste of the Kingdom that we look forward to enjoying eternally. It was so beautiful.
It was Pastor Gary’s last Sunday at International Evangelical Church before he moves back to North Carolina…so a special Sunday was planned. A Koinonia Sunday – a time to celebrate our oneness in Christ.
It started with the worship team…half Ethiopians and half foreigners. Our American friend Melissa was leading. Our Swiss friend Regula was playing the violin. A Nigerian backup vocalist. Ahhhh.
But, it got better. Next was a choir from the French African congregation that also meets at IEC. Singing praise about the Joy of The Lord. Imagine having a group of people singing about joy in the midst of suffering, hardship and persecution – being sung by a group of people whom have experienced it – yet find their sole joy and strength in the Lord. These were not words being sung…these were testimonies being shared.
Then there was a group from the Korean congregation that also meets at IEC. A group of 15 young people – all of them had to be under the age of 25 – singing praise to God in Korean. While they were singing, I thought – this is a glimpse of the present force of people sharing Jesus throughout the world. South Korean Christians are showing a passion and zeal for missions here in Africa as well as in other parts of the world that is both sacrificial and stunning. It looks much different than our Western missionary efforts – and they are very effective. They have responded to The Father’s heart for the nations. It brought tears to my eyes.
Then there was a group from a predominantly Dutch church about an hour away from Addis. They drove the hour to show their gratitude to Gary and to be an encouragement to him. It was great as they shared the richness of an old song I remember singing in a Presbyterian Church growing up. One of those tried and true songs that brings a richness that is like water to the soul.
Then there was a group of Ethiopian women who sang two very popular church songs in Amharic. These are people from the congregation here at IEC. I love the fact that this is not only a “foreign” congregation, but rather it is largely populated by Ethiopians. A beautiful time singing praises to God in Amharic with a goat skin drum.
But, then it hit me like a wave. The service was closing and we had one last song – “He reigns.” Here we were singing
“Its the song of the redeemed rising from the African plain.
Its the song of Asian believers filled with God’s holy fire.
It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation.
A love song born of a grateful choir.”
I looked around the room – and there were many tribes, many tongues and many nations…joined together as a grateful choir. Dozens of countries represented.
Some diplomats…some powerless. Every shade of color. Some rich…some poor. Some from places of great religious freedom…others from the most closed countries in the world. People that are from countries that are enemies. Diversity in its finest. People with great differences of doctrine and race and ethnicity and culture and dress and language.
Yet, all gathered in the commonness of Jesus. All gathered to bring Him praise and honor and to share what God has placed in them with each other. All gathered in a bond of love and oneness.
The Father’s heart for the nations being poured out…
It was a slice of heaven. A glimpse of the fullness of all nations, tribes and tongues gathering in worship at the Throne of the Lamb of God.
O…King Jesus…may You establish more of your Kingdom here on earth. May there be a Oneness among your very diverse people…just as you prayed for.