Flights of Faith

Saturday, August 12, 2006

International Church

On tot, kto tvayu zheezn eez-meh-nev x2
On sta-boy boodet veeh-nah x2
Tot kto zheez eez-meh-neel
Boodet rah-dom sta-bo-yu-va-vehk

Welcome to international church. Every Tuesday and Friday, I walk down a few hills and across a bridge to the Talpiyot area and enter a small gray warehouse. Nothing much to look at but an incredible thing to behold.

Calvary Chapel Jerusalem is a service ministry that reaches out to Israel’s immigrant population. Collecting money and food, it helps immigrants get started with their new life in Israel. It also welcomes anyone to worship with them. The combination of caring and curiosity has created a strong community of immigrant Christians, specifically Russian Israelis. The church, of course, has momentous language barriers. Most of the American volunteers only speak English. There are some Euro/Sephardic Israelis that only know Hebrew and some English. Then, there are the Russians who are in the process of learning Hebrew. The room isn’t magically altered by the Spirit to create divine translations, but I’ve learned how to feel words.

Breaking into prayer groups one Tuesday, I realized ours didn’t have a translator. Still, we released our prayers to each other and the Lord. Hearing others pray in Russian, I felt their passion and asked that God would let their words be true and fulfill their requests if it was His will. When I prayed, I heard murmurs of yes and stirs of emotion. My prayer was for Christian communities not to ignore any of the world’s victims based on religious affiliation or ethnicity. I wanted to challenge Israeli Christians to do what was right, not what was convenient.

Seemingly, everywhere Christianity is practiced it gets tangled up with nationalism. I think it was well intentioned. When I say God bless my family and friends it doesn’t function as a curse for those left out. When Bush says “God bless America” well….I’ll let you be the judge on that one.

Most of the churchgoers call Israel home and that’s bound to slip into their Christian practices. But, I hope and believe that this mixture of Christians of various backgrounds is helping everyone realize that God isn’t bound to nations but only to hearts.

The most exciting part of church is our vocal worship. We switch back and forth from Hebrew to English to Russian. The projected music sheet breaks down Russian and Hebrew into syllables allowing English speakers to sing along.

It’s in these moments I realize we should always be praying in different tongues. Not literally; instead, using our prayer to help others we can’t reach. Crossing religious, racial, cultural, or any type of barriers to try and cover the globe in a protective warmth not just our loved ones. It’s a difficult calling but we have all the Power in the world as our support.

He who began a good work in you x2
He will be faithful to complete it x2
He who started the work will be faithful
To complete it in you


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