November 20, 2019
"We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing" (2 Thessalonians 1:3). Two weeks ago, I gathered with a group of local church and civic leaders at New Freedom Outreach Center to meet Pastor Friday Idawor. Pastor Friday is from Nigeria and serves there as a leader in the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. He was visiting Berthoud because a few years ago Pastor Friday heard God calling him to encourage and support churches in West. More recently, that calling led him specifically into a partnership with New Freedom. In this regard, Pastor Friday is exemplary of a growing trend in global Christianity: As the Church flourishes in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia, Christians in these countries are now sending missionaries to Europe and North America, where the Christian population has been declining. I believe that God is speaking to us through these ambassadors from other cultures, so I went to New Freedom that morning eager to hear what the Spirit had to say through Pastor Friday. What I heard was a call to deeper gratitude.
"Anything you do not appreciate will depreciate," Pastor Friday said. It was a simple message, but it has stuck with me because Pastor Friday so clearly embodied the gratitude of which he spoke. He opened our time by praising God for the blessings of life, the beauty of creation, and the gift of Christian fellowship. He thanked God for those in Berthoud who have shown him such hospitality and spoke to us about the importance of honoring those in positions of leadership. He even made it a point to personally thank Sgt. Anderson, who leads our town's police force, for seeking to be a godly leader in the community. But the gratitude didn't stop there. Reaching back into the past, Pastor Friday thanked God for the Presbyterians and Methodists who sent missionaries to form the founding churches in Nigeria more than a century ago. As a sign of gratitude for that history, Pastor Friday gave each of us who were present two flags, one from Nigeria and one from his church, to remind us to pray for them.
Pastor Friday's visit was an unexpected and humbling gift, challenging me to deliberately appreciate and thank God for things which I typically take for granted. What about you? Who or what is God calling you to appreciate more deeply today? Like the flags Pastor Friday gave to us, what signs or tokens of gratitude might you share with others?
Grace and Peace,