Bringing Christ to the People: Every Tongue, Tribe, and Nation
This story was derived from a sermon delivered by Rev. Antonio (Tony) Boos to the congregation of Faith, Troy.
When I came to Michigan, Hamtramck was explained to me as the ‘doughnut hole’ in the middle of the city of Detroit. I’ve visited Hamtramck numerous times over the past year because God has called Faith, Troy to do work there through the Boiragee family. Rev. Elieo Boraigee and his wife, Merry, have been in partnership with the Michigan District, LCMS and Faith to be missionaries to the 26,000 people who have immigrated to Detroit from the country of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh ranks 7th in the world population with approximately 158 million people who live in a country the size of South Dakota! Only one half of the people can read and 40 percent are underemployed. It is a fairly new country, as it was East Pakistan until 1971. Hamtramck has become largely a Bengali community; just take a leisurely drive through the city and you will see the diversity of languages on signs and buildings.
The Boiragee family invited another Bengali family, Rubel, his wife Cherry, and their boys, to Faith a year ago and they continue to worship regularly. Let me tell you a fun story about this family.
Although it is true for most people who speak a second language to understand it more easily than speaking it, their spoken English is pretty good. When they found out that they were going to have a baby, I told them to please let me know when the baby is born so that I could visit and pray with the family. When the day finally arrived, Rubel phoned me with the joyous news of a baby boy. I congratulated him and asked if they had a name for the baby. In broken, yet excited English and through a bad cell phone connection he said, “When you are coming, you have a name for the baby.”
At that, our conversation was over and for the next few hours, I wondered exactly what he meant. As I was driving to the hospital, I prayed,“Lord, give me a name if he truly wants me to have a name for his child.” Upon arriving and after visiting with them a while, I prayed over the baby and then Rubel inquired, “You have a name for the baby? We want a Biblical name.
My jaw dropped as I had heard and understood his request correctly. He wanted me to name the child. So I timidly told him, “I think God has given me two names for you to choose. The first is an Old Testament name, Joshua, which means the ‘Lord saves,’ and the second is the name John, a New Testament disciple of Jesus. John was known as ‘The disciple whom Jesus loved.’ He did not consider Jesus’ love in a boastful way, but in a humble way, knowing that if he was the only one in the world, that Jesus still would have come for him … a sinner in need of a savior. This is the intimate and personal relationship that the Lord wants for all of His disciples.”
Rubel and Cherry chose the name John and I can say with certainty, this was a new experience for me! I then had the privilege of performing Baby John’s and his two older brothers’ baptisms.
Baptism isn’t just some “going-through-the-Christian-motions” thing we do. It isn’t a magic formula that inducts you into the “church club.” Baptism does not mean you can now do whatever you want because God’s grace covers you! (That is called cheap grace). God’s grace came with a high price to Jesus. It cost His very life. In Baptism, you are buried with Christ and dead to sin and given new life through His resurrection from the dead. You are a new creation.
After our baptism, we keep growing and maturing, being discipled in the Christian faith. This is what makes us SET. We are SET when we are in such a position, that wherever God takes our lives, we, as His children, can tell others about Him. Think about it. Ready, SET … being equipped through worship services and in the study of God’s Word you are SET to speak whenever God sets the divine appointments in your faith journey to point others who are lost to Jesus. “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 6). Every time we have an opportunity to share this faith, we are strengthened in our own faith. It becomes truer, stronger, better! We speak and the words are His, the power is His, and people come to faith and realize that Jesus has found them because they were lost!
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the nations have come to us. We do not have to go overseas to be a missionary to find others who do not know about Jesus. Whether it is the Arabic community in Faith’s neighborhood or intentional outreach to those who speak other languages in your community, it is a great privilege and joy to enjoy Christian fellowship with others from different backgrounds. We get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ and then have the opportunity to get involved in their mission to GO into the community as well.
Our God came to this world in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, to seek and save those who are lost and headed for eternal separation. He actively and relentlessly pursues. He uses us, His children, His ambassadors, His ‘light to the world,’ to GO! … across the street, into the city, to your own family and friends, at work, at school, and in the neighborhood.
In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit … Ready, Set, Go! We were given this calling when His name was placed on us at Baptism. We carry His name everywhere we go! May you be confident in your readiness from your baptism. May you be excited and always set to speak and show a Christian witness. And may you Go, carry His Name, for His glory! Amen.
Rev. Antonio C. Boos is an associate pastor at Faith, Troy. Born in the Philippines, Boos has served in multi-cultural ministry since his graduation from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. in 2002. He and his wife, Jennifer, have six children.