I have become all things to all people, that by all means, I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
1 Corinthians. 9:22-23
Families all over the world have been battling the Coronavirus. Walk with me through a few of the stories of the battle. Pictured here is Pastor George Tluanga and his family from Myanmar Burma. George has been the past President of the Evangelical Free Church in Myanmar for 6 years. Last year, George accepted a call to join our Central District to serve on our All People Team as our Burmese Director. George and his family are still in Myanmar waiting for Visa approval to come minister with us in the Central District. Did you know Iowa is now Home to 10,000 Burmese? Missouri and Arkansas are also home to another 7,500 Burmese. How do we become All things to the Burmese families? Pastor George and his family will coach our Churches to share in the blessings of seeing the Gospel multiply and network the Burmese families now calling our Central District home.
Last year, Pastor George introduced us to his friend Pastor Lian Thwang of the Mizo Church of Iowa. Pastor Lian serves a Burmese church of 360 people in Des Moines. Last month, when I phoned Pastor Lian to ask how his church was doing during the Stay in Home order there was a long pause on the line. Pastor Lian said, “I feel all alone. Twelve of my people working at the Tyson plant have Covid19 and I do not know what to do.” We prayed together and the Lord began to answer with an incredible network of support.
One door the Lord opened was to meet Karen the Director of Chaplains of Tyson Foods in Rogers, Arkansas. Did you know that Tyson Foods has 100 Chaplains at their processing plants across the USA? Many of our Foreign-born neighbors work at a Tyson plant. As we know Covid19 impacted many of our food processing plants. Chaplain Karen introduced Pastor Lian and I to Chaplain Terry of the Perry Tyson plant near Des Moines.
Pastor Chuck Mullikin of Westchester EFCA Church introduced the Central District to Help Des Moines. The Lord networked a team of Tyson Foods Chaplains, Des Moines Police Chaplains, The Family Leader, and Embarc Iowa (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy Resource Center). On May 6th this team of 11 leaders from 4 states listened on a Zoom call and began to walk with Pastor Lian and his Twelve Covid19 Members. What Pastor Lian experienced on our Zoom call was community. A community of family that prayed and supported Burmese families as their own family in their time of need. All Twelve of the members of Pastor Lian Church were in quarantine and began to return to work at Tyson. Pastor Lian is our family in Christ and our team experienced the blessing of the Gospel flourishing in the Burmese family.
All Twelve Burmese returned to Tyson except Tamemi. She had battled through beating Covid19 while she was pregnant with Twin boys that were 7 months in the womb. Tamemi did not feel the Boys moving on Mother’s Day, and the next day delivered 2 stillborn sons. Please pray for Tamemi and Liana her Husband as they grieve. The picture shows Pastor Lian leading a funeral for the family with Chaplain Terry from Tyson foods standing with the family as they grieve death.
Some of the Burmese families living in our Central District are Buddhist. One-third of the World (2.6 Billion people) are Buddhist, Muslim, or Hindu that have no Christian witness. The Lord is sending many of these unreached people to the United States and yet 87% will still have no Christian friend in their USA life. Only 1 out of 10 Foreign-born families living in America will ever be invited into an American home. Coach Ahmad, a Muslim friend from Afghanistan cried at the dinner table at my friend Dan’s home because it was the first time he had been inside an American home after living in the USA for 10 years. Start today to tell All People they matter!
Covid19 has many people feeling alone and now is the time to create a community of collaboration among All people. As the Apostle Paul became ‘All things to All people’ that we may share with them in its blessings. Do not miss the blessing of living in community.
Let me close with one practical way to love our neighbors who may feel alone from a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. As many of you know I was born and raised in Minneapolis. My dad was a Bricklayer and I used to help my dad repair brick homes and businesses all over the city. I have worked near 38th & Chicago where George Floyd was killed on Memorial Day. Silence does not turn away wrath, but a soft answer does. We all know death is not the way life is supposed to be yet our systems promote our silence. What if instead of silence we like the Apostle Paul were intentional to become All things to just one person of a different culture. Today, ask God for an African American friend, an Asian Friend, a Latino Friend that you can Listen, Learn and Love as a family over the summer months and together begin to collaborate to be catalysts of Gospel Transformation in your community. As Psalm 133 says, “How Good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity…For there the Lord has commanded his blessing, Life Forevermore.” The Apostle Paul shared in the blessing of the Gospel to All people. Do not stay silent. All People are made in the Image of God and under His common grace. Love All People. Be the blessing of life Forevermore in difficult and lonely times!