Welcome 2014! Welcome to 2014 at Zion Church!
This promises to be one of the most exciting years in the history of our church. God is on the move and many miraculous and wonderful things are happening right before our eyes.
The most obvious is the fulfillment of Psalm 99:2, which says, “Great is the Lord in Zion he is exalted over all the nations.” This year Zion truly becomes the place “where nations worship” as we become a church that worships weekly in four languages and prays in over ten. Beginning February 2, Zion will add a Swahili service concurrent with our English 10:30 a.m. service on Sunday mornings. The new Swahili service will be led by Pastor Gakunzi Ntwieri with whom we’ve been sharing fellowship and worship for over a year. Every third Sunday the Swahili and English services will worship together. We believe that after a year or two of keeping this schedule, the two services will merge into one. And that is really exciting.
One of the things that makes Zion different is our commitment to be one church together and not four separate groups sharing space and expenses. The vision we have been given by God is that our future is not in separate services by language, but in united services where people from every imaginable background and generation and ability can worship the Lord as a single body together. We believe this brings joy to our Mutual Master, Jesus Christ, and is a fulfillment of his prayer that we “should be one” as he and the Father are one.
Our biggest challenge as a church is to find ways to share life and worship together as a united body. We know it is not an easy task to bring so many different ethnicities together but we believe that He whom we love and all have in common is greater than any of the multitude of things that divide us. We believe that our diversity makes us stronger, not weaker, and that it is “for such a time as this” that God placed us all here, to be a witness to the unifying power of the gospel.
Greater than any challenge we face are the many opportunities that we’ve been given as a church to share Christ our Savior with the nations in our neighborhood and with the poor and the homeless and those in need. We never run out of opportunities to share the love of Jesus with world around us. Almost every day we have a new door open to us into the lives of families and individuals and even entire communities.
One of the greatest blessings about being a part of the Zion Church community is that our families are all on a mission together. Every day at Zion is like a mission trip and you don’t even have to leave your zip code. Our children are taught about Christ in the same room as children who have never heard of him and this leads to interesting and exciting conversations. All our events occur in the context of a Christian faith that is global. You can’t be at Zion long before you realize that you’re part of world-wide Christianity. When a bomb goes off in Baghdad, we feel it. When a rebellion happens in South Sudan, we know people affected. We believe that this perception of the church as more than the local congregation causes our faith to grow and gives us a perspective on what God is doing in the whole world.
Zion has been uniquely positioned in our community to bring people and tribes and nations together. We are virtually across the street from Hoover High School, the most diverse school in our state, with some 30 languages spoken. We straddle the Lower Beaver and Meredith Drive neighborhoods, both of which are home to an increasing number of first time home buyers who were not born in the USA. Lower Beaver is also home to a number of apartment complexes favored by resettled refugees. This positioning has caused us to respond to the needs in our neighborhoods with a clothes closet, food pantry, furniture ministry and fueled educational, transportation and tutoring ministries.
2014 promises to continue to call us to other parts of the world, as well. Looks like we’re being called to help Syrian refugees in Jordan, build an orphan school in Rwanda, continue support and aid to communities in Tanzania and go to a number of other spots that our community members feel led by the Spirit of God to go on short term mission trips. We believe that these extraordinary opportunities come about because of the Word of God which calls us relentlessly to follow Jesus into the lives of other people.
We believe that the essence of discipleship is living daily with Jesus and letting him lead you into what he desires to accomplish in you and through you. By serving others we are serving him. By serving we grow spiritually and are brought back to the Word of God for nourishment and support and then through that same Word, sent back out to serve the least for the sake of the Greatest Name. We believe that such a way of life, lived out together in a very diverse church community, will help our young find their own relationship with Christ and choose to follow him.
Finally, 2014 provides an amazing opportunity for us to pray. We didn’t choose this mission that God has us on, he sent it to us through prayer. As we continue to seek out the Lord and his will for us together at Zion through prayer, we know that he who is faithful will continue to change and transform us to be more like him. Through prayer we also express our gratitude to him who makes all things new, including us, for sharing his ministry with us. It is the most exciting thing in the whole world to be a part of God’s plan.
Thanks for reading. God bless you. May the life and love and peace and joy of knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection, bless you and give you daily grace to share. PJ