Unlike the rest of my posts, this one is a bit more personal. Although God has taught me many things through my previous posts, this one is going to be about a spiritual journey that God has sent on and has instructed me to share with you all.
Three years ago I got saved and at the end of last year I got baptised. From the moment of my salvation to a couple weeks ago I went to one church weekly. It was pretty much all that I knew, I had gone to other churches as a visitor to watch people get christened or baptised etc. but I would only go for occasions not to specifically hear the word. If I was to describe my faith then the word to describe it was COMFORTABLE. I then heard God speaking to me telling me that I need to visit other churches. I now know in retrospect that it wasn’t because the church that I went to was teaching the wrong gospel or because God did not believe that the church was conducive to my spiritual growth, but because God wanted to challenge me, he wanted me to get out of my comfort zone and truly praise him. During this journey, I went to two churches, they were both completely different to the church that I usually attended. I usually go to a predominantly black (afro-Caribbean to be specific) church. The first church that I went to was massive. I remember walking in and feeling completely overwhelmed, I felt as though it was my first day at a new school, looking back it sort of was. This church was what I would consider to be multicultural, since not one race made up over 90%. I remember thinking, if they ask if there are any new members would I put my hand up or stand up if they asked me to, I don’t want the thousands of people turning around to look at me, but don’t worry in the end I did. The praise and worship songs were totally different than what I was used to and the service was different than what I was used to. This was really important because I love praise and worship times, but this experience made me realise that sometimes I actually just sing a long and don’t praise and worship, but as I sung those words and reflected on what they meant, it reminded me of my element and I truly went back to praising and worshipping God. I actually loved the service, it was strange because although I initially felt overwhelmed I felt so free. I was able to praise God in a different way more than I think I ever have before. Although I loved it so much I knew that God was not telling me to leave the church that I went to because the pastor who took the service was a guest pastor. Very fitting right? A guest preaching to a guest? This was a one of experience. The next church that I went to was my local church, the church that I usually go to takes over an hour to get to. This church was so local that I walked there, after speaking to the pastor afterwards he told me that he used to go to the same primary school as me, although he left probably 40 years before I was even born, but that’s how local that church was. This church was a very small church. So small that they did not even have to ask if there were any new people there, before the service started and after it had finished people kept coming up to me introducing themselves and making me feel welcome. This church did things extremely differently than I was used to but I still enjoyed it and learnt a lot from the service.
I felt as though visiting these other churches helped me to grow so much. I was able to praise God, in a place that was unfamiliar to me and he continued to bless me. One thing that I really needed to do was to experience church outside of my culture. I know that going to church does not make you a Christian but it is vital to our Christian fellowship, how can we love God but not want to be amongst his people? I believe that culture and Christianity should not mix. I am saying this because after a while people start believing that their culture is actually divinely inspired. Let me give you two examples, one small and one extreme. In black churches, the older generation are firm believers that women should wear hats and skirts and men should where suits. But where is that written in the Bible? Wearing a hat to church does not make you a Christian, wearing a skirt to church does not give you automatic entry into heaven, it doesn’t say it in the Bible yet many people still believe that this is the truth. The other example is Female Genital Mutilation, it is followed by a minority to preserve laws that are prescribed in the Qur’an but it is a practice that is not instructed. When you mix culture with religion after a while, the lines become blurred.
Another thing that I experienced and absolutely loved was the ability to fellowship with other races. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” This is very true for England as well. We are all Christians and we all believe in the same truth! There won’t be a black or white or Asian church in heaven, Christ is coming back for one Church so I felt that my experiences also gave me a glimpse of what heaven will look like. I also learnt that there is no such thing as a perfect church, you can look around so much but every church does an amazing job of evangelising and fellowshipping in a different and unique way.
I would like to thank God for being with me throughout this journey because even when I felt overwhelmed or nervous, he just told me to be still and listen. I thank God for using the pastors that I heard to bless me. I thank God for the church that I got saved in because this journey helped me to realise just how much the church has helped me to grow. It’s quite funny because when I told people about me visiting other churches, they often asked me if I was going alone, many were surprised when I said yes. In retrospect, I know that this was something that I had to do alone because although God was with me every step of the way, being surrounded by strangers enabled me to be free. So although I was out of my comfort zone, I think I was able to finally find my own way of praising God.