Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Amazing Grace

When I was young, I lived in California. There were about fifty people in our church. And then one day a group of Ukranians came and joined our church. They had just arrived from the Ukraine, and only one of them spoke English, but they were Christians, and they were looking for a church.

I was amazed by these people. They were young (maybe in their twenties) and they had great stories about escaping their country to find freedom. Freedom to worship God, that's what they wanted. And they were willing to risk their lives to find it. One of them, I remember, had slipped into a river to get past a guard house, and they shot at him. He talked about the bullets moving past him under the water.

The first night they came to our church, we were singing songs and they just sat in the back, quiet. They didn't know the words. Then we sang "Amazing Grace". And they sang it in Ukranian. I could tell by their strong voices how glad they were to sing to God in our little church, how happy they were to be free to sing as loud as they pleased, and not have to worry about the neighbors or the government.

Most Americans know two or three verses of "Amazing Grace" and we sang them all. And then the Ukranians kept singing, more and more verses, they just wanted to keep singing. Then they sang other songs, trying to find ones we all knew so that we could sing along in English.

We sang for a long time. I don't remember how long, but I do remember that I didn't want to stop. I remember one of the Ukranian girls crying when we were done. And for the first time in my life I understood that God collected praises in every language of the world.

This is one of the reasons I am excited about CM2007. I can't wait to stand with brothers and sisters from around the world and sing the praises of Jesus Christ in a hundred languages. Not because of the size of the crowd, but because of the size of our God.

I hope to see you there. And even if we don't meet, I hope we can sing together.


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