We walked into the little dimly lit chapel on the Morningside Heights area of New York City for the early service of Immanuel Presbyterian Church. We are late. So it takes me a moment to glance around the room and suddenly notice…I’m a racial minority. I’m one of only a handful of non-Asian Americans…..
This Spring Break trip with my campus ministry (Reformed University Fellowship- RUF) was something which evoked many different prayers in the months prior to it. College can be a time when life is so consumed with self-infatuation. It was my desire to get out of my bubble and expand my minimal view of God’s kingdom and have the opportunity to receive a taste of His big picture. It was my continual prayer that our eyes would truly be open to new ideas about His kingdom, and that the Holy Spirit would be at work within all of us. God, in His faithfulness, answered that prayer and this would be a trip that would genuinely “rock our world.”
I am from Jackson, Mississippi and have grown up in a family where the phrase “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” was not just a phrase, but a life-style. I am also thankful for the blessing of my church. What an amazing foundation it provided for my life. I realized on our trip that my church, while wonderfully rich in its teachings, did not provide me with the same view of the kingdom as the one in which we attended at Immanuel Presbyterian. I recall looking around the room and thinking, “this is what Heaven is going to look like.” For me to grow up in a church which is 98% middle/upper class white people, being the minority was a totally new, and surprisingly refreshing, experience. We were privileged to take the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper that Sunday, and as I soaked in the scene around me, I noticed the passion on the congregation’s expressions. Worship was not just “the socially acceptable thing to do on Sundays”, but it appeared that most people had to make a huge effort to get there. In Mississippi, there are as many churches as gas stations, but that was not the case in New York.
That experience caused me to wonder, if the Kingdom of God is NOT about the breaking down of superficial walls that separate God’s image bearers, then what is it? I had the opportunity to worship with people from all kinds of cultural, social, and economical backgrounds. I am NO better than any of these people because they are different than me. That was more apparent to me than any other point in my life. We pray most Sundays “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Immanuel was a “little slice of heaven” for me that day.
It was my desire that the issues the Lord placed on my heart would not flee my thoughts as soon as I entered back into my college realm. I wanted to continue to struggle and wrestle with these questions. My desire had become to break down these barriers that are so present in a large SEC school. Why is it that we are so uniform throughout our lives? By God’s grace and Christ’s blood, we will all be in Heaven together. Uniformity will be left here on earth, and we will worship in diversity with Christians of ALL kinds. The answer to all my inquiries lies in the gospel, for the gospel is not just a book to put beside your bed at night, but the gospel IS power; power in which Christ equips us to advance His kingdom to all the ends of the earth.
“For by grace….not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think....For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Romans 12:3-4
Lauren Wade is a junior, Pre-Dentistry major at The University of Mississippi and very involved in her campus ministry there, RUF.