Trivia Question: After English and Spanish, what do you think is the most spoken language in Michigan?
Answer: Arabic. Does that surprise you?
A map of the United States, published in 2017 by Business Insider, shows which language is most commonly spoken at home besides English and Spanish. Michigan joins West Virginia and Tennessee as listing Arabic.
An Arabic-speaking church planter serving in Michigan recently came back from a visit to his home country. He told us that when he was there, he visited a church who decided to take up an offering so they could buy and ship Christian books written in Arabic to his church plant here in North America.
I remember being a child at Sunshine CRC and getting pledges to read chapters of the Bible, which raised money to send Bibles in other languages to people around the world. I’m sure many Christian Reformed churches have participated in similar ministry projects.
And now, the tables are turned! The Christian church around the world sees North America as a mission field. Our neighbors come from countries around the world, speaking a multitude of languages.
How do you experience this growing global diversity in your backyard? Does it make you uncomfortable to hear someone in the grocery store speaking a language you don’t understand? Are you less likely to strike up a friendship with the parent at your child’s soccer game for whom English is a second language?
If so, imagine with me how this could be an opportunity to embrace the Kingdom of God in our midst. Someday we will experience what John witnessed in Revelation 7:9 -10.
I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb… And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”