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From Every Tribe

by Michael Roop
I was a second-year seminary student when I visited a church because a pretty girl invited me. I was recovering from an injury that kept me from driving to my home church, and when she offered to pick me up and drive me to her church, I couldn’t say no!

That pretty girl eventually married me, and by that time, that church had become our home church. I really love that church. It was small enough that we could really get to know those who went to church with us. We had fellowship lunches every Sunday after church. As I progressed in seminary, I was given opportunities to teach and preach.

But my favorite experiences at the church were the tri-annual combined services. Three times a year, all three congregations — English, Mandarin, and Cantonese — would come together for worship, communion, prayer, and preaching. We would bounce back and forth between languages with wonderful volunteers translating in through headphones.

One such service will be locked in my memory until the day I die. We began singing the old hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Three sets of lyrics appeared side-by-side on the screens, and everyone present sang the holiness of God in their native tongue. As we sang, I was overcome by the beautiful picture of John’s vision of the heavenly throne room.

He tells us that he saw “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

This is our family and our future. Our brothers and sisters in Christ, Abraham’s promised family, worshiping God in His presence. Forever. And in small doses, we get to catch a glimpse this side of heaven. And my prayer, as we continue to pursue unity with our brothers and sisters in Gainesville, is that we will continue pursuing times we can worship together for the glory of God.