For us, three of the most beautiful things about Agape Baptist Church are, first, the meaning and challenge of our name, second, the wonderful diversity of our fellowship, and third, how the first two intersect in a ministry to internationals.
Agape, that highest form of love, is the essence of the Christian faith—loving God with all our heart, and soul, and, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is an enormous challenge to live out that kind of love as a church and as individuals.
It is significant that at one of the most important days in Christian history such a diverse group of people were together in one place, at the same time, under the influence of the Holy Spirit—”Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs.” (Acts 2:9-11)
We are blessed in our fellowship with the contributions of persons from many countries and cultures. It is inspiring in Sunday worship to see in our choir people from many parts of the United States, from Africa, from China, from South America. Our Karen congregation is a blessing to us in many ways. Our fellowship includes persons who have been missionaries to Africa, South America, Asia, and Europe.
Our fellowship is beautifully diverse racially, ethnically, socially, economically, educationally, financially, generationally, and in church traditions. We have so much to learn from each other and so many ways to minister to persons in and outside our fellowship.
We are blessed with the cultural contributions of persons from many countries who are, or who are potential recipients of our ministry. In our ESL ministry we have had persons from more than twenty countries– Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Bhutan, Bosnia, Burma, China, Colombia, Cuba, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, South Korea, South Vietnam, Syria, Taiwan, and Thailand. Most of these were not Christians.
Many internationals in our city need Christ. Many need help understanding our language and our culture. We have lived in three foreign countries and in two, English was a foreign language. We know the challenges of living in another culture. We have great admiration and appreciation for those from other countries and continue trying, in different ways, to minister to internationals. We pray that others will find ways to share that ministry.
Agape love is evident in our diverse fellowship. That love and that diversity hold promise for an increasingly powerful international ministry. “We are one in the Spirit; We are one in the Lord…and…[internationals] will know we are Christians by our love.”
— Scotty & June Gray