I imagine you’re expecting an update on how the mission is going in Barcelona. Well, at the time of writing, I’ve only been here less than a week, so this won’t be that.
Stay with me though! I’d like to tell you about something the Lord has been teaching me more personally, as I’m on mission.
I went to church here for the first time today. The experience was magnificent. My new church home for the year is the International Church of Barcelona (ICB). Home to many of Barcelona’s missionaries from all over the world, it truly feels like a picture of heaven (see Revelation 7:9-10 for reference).
At Discovery, we often talk about being a mosaic church - we want everyone, particularly including people from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, to feel welcomed and to belong. ICB definitely has that same heart. In Washington though, we have it somewhat easier because the majority of us speak the same language. When you’re walking through Discovery, it’s a fair assumption that when you approach someone in English, they’ll reply in the same. At ICB, people come from all over, so it takes a bit more strategy to be mosaic.
The primary language the church uses to communicate to the congregation is in English. This was one of the main reasons I chose to attend. It was important to me that I would actually understand the sermons because being rooted in God’s word with understanding is absolutely critical for spiritual flourishing. Y’all, the experience was so much better than I was expecting!
Even though English is the primary language used for preaching and singing, they do a lot to accommodate the Spanish speaking community. They have headphones that plug into some kind of electronic device that translates the sermons into Spanish in real time and all of the slides have both English and Spanish.
I had never heard the first song they sang, but it was in English and it was great. The next song was King of My Heart by Elevation Worship and I got pumped because I knew that one. The inteo concludes, I get ready to start belting my lungs out… and they start singing in Spanish.
Whaaaat?! They told me this church does everything in English?! Have I been duped?
At this moment, I have a choice to make. I can look at the English words on the screen and just sing a little more quietly in English or I can join in with the congregation singing in my VERY beginner, most-likely-butchering-every-other-word, Spanish.
I hope you know me well enough to know what I did. I belted that sucker in real ratchet Spanish. AND I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.
I raised my hands and I sang words that I slightly knew the meaning of, and others that I didn’t, because I didn’t have time to read the English words while I focused on the Spanish. Yet in all of this, I felt the Spirit of the Lord absolutely FLOOD that sanctuary.
I learned a valuable lesson today: The Holy Spirit needs no language to grab ahold of you. What he uses is a willing heart. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to say the right words. It doesn’t matter if you can sing the right notes or sing in the right key.
Dear Christian, Ephesians 1:13 says that when we believe in Christ we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. He is in you. It is with spiritual eyes, not the right words or singing that we see Christ. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we may stand in the presence of the Most Holy God.
“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.“ ~2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NIV)
Today, in a completely foreign language I was able to experience the presence of the Lord.
It was not by my own strength.
It was not by my intellect or a vast vocabulary used to pray a fancy theological prayer.
With a willing heart and a sincere love for Jesus, The Spirit allowed me to get a glimpse at the glory of the Lord.
He needs not your English language, friend, but your heart.
I pray today, you give it to him.