It’s been almost six months, and it still happens.
Every morning when I drive down from our street and I face the often foggy hills that border the Arkansas river. Or when I catch a glimpse of the river valley. Or even when I stare at the tall evergreens that line up the University Avenue corridor, my mind get’s flooded with the words: “this is crazy!”
It’s a good crazy! It’s my inevitable reaction to the unexpected destinations that take part of this adventure that has become my life as a follower and servant of Christ!
There I sat that summer, on a bench at the Windsor riverwalk in Canada, facing the Detroit skyline, and holding a conversation with my Creator about the task at hand. With my eyes pointed at the reflection of the massive structures on the glassy water of the river, inquiring about my mission to that country. I was not born there. But, I was certain I was sent there with a purpose that had been paused for the time being. Was the calling expiring or changing? Where-to next? What was the center of His will for my earthly journey and where did it intercept with a material need that can unleash Christ-driven impact all over this nation? Was there such a place? Was I meant to go back or move forward? As I sat on that bench I felt literally and figuratively benched. “Put me in, coach!”
A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
Psalm 84:10 NLT.
I knew the answer was not going to jump out of the river! But it did jump right on my face when I visited this multiethnic community of believers in Little Rock, Arkansas!
It was a “mashup”!
Outside of South Florida, NYC, or SoCal, I had never seen such a wide spectrum of hues and economic backgrounds! Not that diversity didn’t matter, or that it was by happenstance. On the contrary, it was celebrated and sought out in every group of this community, including the wide leadership table.
“This is crazy!”
How can such a thing exist in a city and region with so much historical weight in the matter? Known among other things for the tragedy experienced in 57′ by the students of Central High School as they materialized the dreams of integration in the school system, Little Rock is not known as a beacon for diversity. Except for the fact that The Church is changing that!
There are others. Organizations of both public and private ownership, including other communities of faith, that are working hard to create change, and it is noticeable. While I am not ignoring this, I am merely pointing to a group of believers that looks different, right in the urban heart of the city. When people ask: “really? A diverse community in Little Rock?” the answer is: “yes! It’s called Mosaic Church.”
As soon as the moving truck hit the driveway of our new home, questions started to pour in from the outside. Friends and acquaintances in this continent and in other places of the globe hoping to know only one thing: “is Mosaic Church the real deal?”
It is well known. There is no doubt about that! This community gets plenty of attention! But, just like people who join Apple or Disney, there is a need to know if the reputation is preceded by truth. And, there is an answer to that question.
6 months are difficult to summarize. If I feel like this, I cannot imagine those who’ve spent a decade and a half realizing this vision. What I’ve observed is only the apex, which means any attempt to characterize this phenomenon will fall short.
Here it is– the beauty of a community that is socio-economically and ethnically diverse, from top to bottom, is enchanting! It’s a brand new world that combines multiple backgrounds. Even as a member of a minority group, I am surprised at all there is to learn from each historical and ethnic experience. I am realizing, more than ever before, that labels fall short of social realities, and that entering a world where perspectives are shattered into many paradigms is daunting, yet attractive!
I am just getting started. There’s a lot of homework to be done as I learn more and more about the dynamics of a church that seeks to carry the banner of unity in a hemisphere where the Body of Christ is more segregated than the marketplace, even if unconsciously and without malice.
Last year I finally watched “The Wizard of OZ” for the first time in my life. In one of the last scenes, Dorothy tries to explain her journey to a wonderful and diverse place to an unbelieving crowd with the following words: “No, Aunt Em — this was a real, truly live place (…) Doesn’t anybody believe me?”
I just got to Mosaic. I did not create it. It’s not a perfect place. But it is powerful. Diverse. With a vision that is needed in a great country, one that I love, still suffering from the disease of discrimination. God brought us here, so we are happy to serve Him here. And it is worth it, because I want my children to grow up in a world where all churches are so “multiethnic” the categorization becomes redundant.
We are getting there!
And, to those of you who question the above or have never seen it, I leave you with the words: “This is a real, truly live place… Won’t you believe me?”