My friend John, an ophthalmologist and former congregant of mine, led several dozen trips to Ecuador on “eye missions.”
I went with him on a couple of them. Our team worked together with area churches, and one day he introduced me to a local pastor, who immediately invited me to preach at their Sunday evening service.
But that Sunday afternoon we had torrential rains that filled the streets with over a foot of water. I said to one of their church members, “I suppose the evening service will be cancelled?”
“Oh no, they’ll be there!”
And they were. The church was packed. We waded to get there.
My Spanish is pretty much limited to eye testing: “Otro oho!” So I employed our translator, Ira, to follow me line by line as I preached.
I started out with our differences: “I live in North America, and you live in South America.” “My congregation is very old and yours is very young.” And so forth.
Finally I said: “But despite our many differences we have something very important in common. We share faith in Jesus Christ, who is ‘the same yesterday and today and forever!’”
As I had been speaking, and Ira had been translating, they had been attentive and polite, but now the whole congregation rose to their feet and started clapping and cheering, and it went on for some time.
I was overcome with emotion, because I knew they weren’t cheering for me, and they weren’t cheering for Ira.
No, they were cheering for Jesus!
Prayer: O God, as we struggle day by day to follow your son, Jesus, give us hearts to cheer for him from time to time, for all he means to us, and all he has done for us.