Archives for posts with tag: bilingual worship

John, you were right.  Smashburger is the best.  The best tasting hamburger.  And the sweet potato fries with bits of rosemary.  With a cherry Coke.  And a charming 7 month old baby girl seated next to me.  Doesn’t get much better than that.  Sydney is the daughter of Jason and Kelly Pope.

It was lunch this afternoon after the MAP Conference in Grand Rapids.

Some of my personal highlights of the Mission and Purpose Weekend based at the Grand Rapids Kroc Center:

  • John Kim Friday night showing us how Korean grandmothers clap for his son Josh as he runs in a foot race
  • A solemn faced delegate quietly coming up to me then pulling out of his pocket a 12 gauge shotgun … shell, a rifled slug.  He found it Saturday afternoon while part of a I’ll Fight Day Mission crew cleaning up a neighborhood lot.  What do you do with ammunition?  I forgot about it until on the drive home and felt it in my jacket pocket.  Gail suggested I take it out now before I have the TSA people find it on me at an airport.  Good idea.
  • Mary, a Soldier from the Milwaukee West Corps, sent by her Corps Officers, Captains Steve and Latdavanh Kounthapanya.  Mary is Burmese and has a heart for Burmese Christians who have relocated to the USA, struggling to keep their faith while trying to adjust to the American life.  She would like to do something to help minister to them.
  • One young man who saw the promotional cards and is now interested in the St Louis Temple Houses.
  • The chatter all day Saturday after Jason and Kelly Pope’s presentation on organic officership, organic Army.
  • Commissioner Carol Seiler’s Sunday morning message, particularly one phrase, “the freedom of responsibility” which was also flipped around to “responsibility of freedom”.  I immediately cross referenced it to Bonhoeffer’s “world come of age”, a tantalizing phrase in Letters and Papers From Prison.  Human autonomy.
  • Superb food and ‘radical hospitality’ courtesy of the Kroc food department led by Ben Price.  Who holds a degree from Asbury Seminary in missions.  Ben’s theology of the table guides his ministry on the Kroc team.
  • The pleasure this morning of watching Commissioner Carol preach and Major Marc Johnson translate into Spanish.  The Grand Rapids Kroc Church is a multicultural church where worship is bilingual on Sunday morning.
  • The pool, gym, game room and other pleasant pursuits available after plenary sessions and the IFD Missions, but what did most delegates chose?  To spend time visiting.  Meeting and getting to know one another.
  • Shawn Okpebholo revealing that The Singing Company is his 7 month old daughter’s favorite.  When played, TSC music soothes Eva.

One last highlight.

Saturday afternoon Captain Melissa Fry of the Heartland Division was working with a team raking leaves.  She looked over and saw an old man trying to move a large piece of wood.  She watched and then offered help.  They struggled but together succeeded in moving it.  She asked him what was he thinking, trying to move something he could not move.  He said he knew that God would send help.

Note to self.  I googled and there is a Smashburger just ten minutes away.


I would today be happy whenever presented with signs and wonders like those recorded in the New Testament Book of Acts to accept them.  If you share with me flames of fire, tongues, healing the lame and various miracles, great.  I won’t have a problem if such appear.  But there are signs and wonders taking place which are as astonishing.  They cause me to pause.

Last weekend Gail and I were with Captains Steve and Latdavanh Kounthapanya in Milwaukee and we saw such signs and wonders. 

The Kounthapanyas are corps officers of the Milwaukee West Corps.   The corps is based in a predominantly African-American neighborhood.  Yet most of the adults on Sunday morning are Asian.  Thai, Laotian, Burmese and Kachin.  Scattered throughout the suburbs and city, they travel in, drawn by common culture and led by Captains Steve and Latdavanh.

Sunday morning while I preached in English Captain Steve next to me translated into Laos and Thai.  A woman in the back of the chapel who understands Thai translated into Burmese.  And a man near her translated from Burmese into Karen.  The gospel preached in five languages during one worship service.

A number of neighborhood young people attended Sunday.  They attend youth activities the corps sponsors Thursday and Friday evenings at which several adults of the corps serve as volunteer leaders.  Adults and young people come together in this way which is unique to the rest of Milwaukee.  To the rest of the world.

Sunday morning we had coffee and pumpkin rice, comfortingly warm and sweet.  I watched one of the young people taste it, nod his approval and finish his rice.  Throughout the meetings and noon meal everyone shared a quiet respect and care for one another.

Quietly and gradually the Milwaukee West Corps has drawn people from different cultures together to worship, serve, taste and see that the Lord is good.  To begin learning how to share life together. 

Some may see this and sneer, but even today others say “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12)  Signs and wonders are in Milwaukee.

I visited the corps in Aurora IL this morning for the Sunday Holiness meeting.  It’s the main event of the week in which Salvation Army soldiers gather for worship and spiritual formation, and the Aurora Corps conducts two each Sunday.

The first, conducted in English, begins at 9:00 AM and lasts an hour, followed by Sunday school, then followed by the second in Spanish.  Afterwards, food and fellowship is offered to everyone.

This format differs from the corps at the Grand Rapids MI Kroc Center.  English and Spanish is also used there, but instead of two separate services virtually everything is translated as it takes place.  The translator stands next to the speaker or leader, and gives the translation.  The sermon or other worship items are usually given first in English followed by a Spanish translation.

Bilingual corps worship takes place in Aurora and Grand Rapids, but in two different ways.  Do you think it makes a difference?

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