Page 8

cross-cultural friendship

by Stuart Lamkin, Pastor, Hickory Rock, Louisburg

Our church, Hickory Rock, Louisburg, always enjoys using They have much to teach us about strength, struggle, resilience, CBF’s Offering for Global Missions (OGM) curriculum. This year and faith. Before he escaped the Congo, Pastor Felix’s parents and I was delighted to see that some of the featured missionaries are siblings were killed, forcing him to run through the wilderness for in our very own backyard. Or rather, we’re in their backyard, since days without food. He made it to Nigeria and received asylum, they work in the big city of Raleigh and all around the Triangle staying there 12 years before the U.S. let him resettle here as a area, while our church is in a rural county an hour north. We’re refugee. All that hardship and loss, yet he laughs and smiles all the nestled between farm fields and horse pastures, while the Wyatts time. He is a man of joy, and he has much to teach me. help refugees find homes, food, supplies, community, and support Counting his current church, Pastor Felix has helped plant in Raleigh. They welcome people who have been through untold 15 churches, which is fourteen more than I have. He preaches hardship and tragedy. with fervor and excitement; I preach Instead of just learning softly and use a manuscript. His about them from the sermons are pointed and bold; mine curriculum and videos, are thoughtful and clever. He is always we invited them to speak busy ministering in the trenches of in person. his community; I enjoy watching the I was glad the Wyatts breeze blow through the trees outside agreed to visit, but my quiet church office window. He that night there was a has much to teach me. problem. The Food Bank During our first meeting, we where we get food to learned that their church people love serve our area had come to eat fish. Coincidentally, our church with an unexpected people love to catch fish. So for our and huge shipment next visit, we delivered actual loaves of produce. I, always and fishes, and it seemed like we gave susceptible to both guilt out more than we brought. and a desire to help, But I didn’t want our relationship Lunch in the Fellowship Hall at Hickory Rock. agreed to take far too to be based on food deliveries, so I much food—more than asked if we could visit their church we could distribute before sometime. “Of course!” they said. So it went bad. We needed to more plans were made. find people to give it to. The first thing you notice when That gave Marc an you visit Shiloh Restoration Church idea. In one of the OGM is the music. As you walk up, you videos, we learned about don’t just hear it; you feel it. You can the work of Pastor almost see it emanating from the Felix Iyoko and his building in visible waves. As you enter wife Nicole. They had the room you also enter the sound Our first meeting (left to right): Roger, Shiloh Restoration Church deacon; Felix Iyoko; and Stuart Lamkin. escaped violence in the itself as it engulfs you, enveloping you Democratic Republic of with voices and rhythms. It pulsates Congo and were called to start a church in north Raleigh for other through your chest, pushing your heart to beat with the beat. It’s Congolese immigrants and Swahili-speaking people. Marc said louder than any worship you’ve experienced. But it’s brighter too, that their congregation, Shiloh Restoration Baptist Church, would with singing like angels. And it must be what heaven sounds like. enjoy getting the fresh produce that I had accepted. (Although hopefully the volume in heaven isn’t quite as pounding.) So we made plans. After worship one Sunday, some of us The words were not in English, but that didn’t matter. Some Hickory Rockers hauled the produce to Raleigh and met the people stood, some people sat, some people clapped, and some Restoration folks at the apartment complex where many of them people danced. So we didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves. live. They were quite a joyful welcoming committee, already in the This wasn’t the calm, orderly, straightforward worship we were parking lot waving at us when we arrived. Marc was there to make used to, but that was why we went. We got to worship God in a the introductions. There were smiles all around. Many helping different language, in a different style, and with a different culture. hands carried boxes up flights of stairs. And it was exciting. After, we spoke words of welcome and said prayers of thanks. After their rousing worship, I returned the invitation and said While I was thankful to distribute all that food before it spoiled, I they were welcome at our church anytime. They accepted. More was more thankful for the honor of meeting such inspiring people. plans were made. 8 • The Gathering – January/February 2018

CBFNC January/February 2018  
CBFNC January/February 2018