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Erik Hyatt
Date Given: 
May 26, 2012

(Introductory statements are from the New City of Nations Church leadership team.)

This world is different from the one my fathers knew.
My grandfather is a Palestinian, Abraham Aziz. He came to America and met my grandmother, Mary Volkar, from Yugoslavia. They raised children and grandchildren in an America that was largely populated by immigrants from Western European countries.

But the world my children and I live in now is different.
I am raising my family in a Midwestern American city that is populated with more African, Asian, and Latin American immigrants than ever before. My neighbors are from China, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Lithuania. My children have school friends that are Russian, Hispanic, and African. This is very different from the world my fathers knew.

This world is different from the one my fathers knew.
When my father, Wu Yeeming, was born in southern China in 1944, there were fewer than 1 million Christians in China. My father received Christ in Taiwan and came to America for graduate school. He brought his mother over, met his wife, and had two children here. He joined an ethnic Chinese church and has served as a lay leader in Chinese churches for decades.

But the world my children and I live in is different.
Today, China, the land of my ancestors, has 60–130 million Christians, the second-largest evangelical country in the world. The largest is America, the land of my birth, and it is changing, too. My wife, Fran, and I had our first son last year (2011) here. In 2011, non-white babies (of whom my son is one) were more than 50% of the babies born in the U.S.

This world is different from the one my fathers knew.
I was born and grew up in a Christian family in Congo. Everyone was like me in my neighborhood. We shared the same culture. I did not look strange to anybody, my name was not a funny name and my language was normal, without an accent.

But the world my children and I live in is different.
In America, everything has changed. My neighbors are so diverse. In a duplex next to my house live two Native American families and one African-American family. Across the street live one Somali, three Anglo-American, and two Chinese-American families. In the corner of the same block are Spanish families. Things have changed so much. This world is not my earthly father’s world anymore.

This world is different from the one my fathers knew.
In the late 1890s, my great grandfather and his family emigrated from Hiroshima, Japan, to Santa Barbara, California. Both of my grandfathers served in World War II, fighting on the U.S. side, while their relatives were forced to live in the U.S. internment camps. Even my father’s experiences were different than my experiences; as a public defender, he worked in Los Angeles County, growing up during the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Era.

But the world I live in is different.
I grew up in Los Angeles and have since lived in Japan, Mexico for a summer, the West Coast, East Coast, and now the Midwest. I married Kassy, a Swedish American who grew up in a small Scandinavian farming community outside of the Twin Cities. She and I now live in South Minneapolis, where we share close friendships with a large Mexican family, a family with children of mixed Cuban and American heritage, and a mixed couple from Mexico and northern Minnesota. As a sign of the times, I speak Spanish and Japanese with our friends in our Minneapolis neighborhood.

This world is different from the one my fathers knew.
My father was born in Mainland China under an oppressive Communist regime, similar to today’s North Korea. I had never seen a foreigner in my first 11 years of life, because I grew up in the midst of the Chinese cultural revolution, which prevented foreign immigration.

But the world my children and I live in is different.
I never thought I would marry a Malaysian and have a child born in America. But today—in this current global context—my child, at 11 years old, has already traveled to over a half a dozen countries around the world. By God’s providence, the world is coming together, closer each day, in major cities around the globe. It’s not hard to find people that speak 3 or 4 languages in the Twin Cities. I have been involved in Bethlehem’s Sunday School Class, All Nations Fellowship, and know several of our members that speak up to 7 languages.

KISONGO’S CONCLUSION: “But now, through Jesus Christ, we all have the same heavenly Father. Now in Christ, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.”

ALL PRAY LORD’S PRAYER: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.)

Sermon proper begins here …

Introduction: After 10 years as the Global Outreach Pastor, God has called us to plant a church. And we are so blessed to be part of Bethlehem, who believes in the multiplication of Christ-exalting, God-centered, Bible-saturated churches! Our vision is to add one more hyphenated descriptive: Multi-ethnic.

Overview: The CONTENT of this prayer, reveals God’s design for a COMMUNITY of prayer and its effects on earth. This will be the model our CHURCH seeks to emulate.

Matthew 6:7–15

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

 ‘Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed be your name.
 Your kingdom come, 
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread,
 and forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation,
 but deliver us from evil. ’

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

All religions involve prayer. They often require specific forms, postures, locations, phrases, and repetitions in order to appease or manipulate gods or spirits. Jesus says (v.7–8), “Don’t be like them! Instead, pray like this …” (9–15). NOT a prescribed liturgy but an example of appropriate CONTENT.

1. God’s COMMUNITY OF PRAYER is a FAMILY: “OUR Father in Heaven ..." He could have said, “Dear God/Almighty/Sovereign Lord/Great Creator…” Why Father? Jesus calls God “Your Father” 5 times in the 10 verses ( v. 5–15), and throughout his Sermon on the Mount. Not a new concept. God wanted Israel to call him “Father” (Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 64:8; Jeremiah 3:19). God wants us to know him as loving, personal, provider, protector. But not all religions find the term “Father” acceptable for God.

a. In Islam, 99 names for Allah—none “Father”: Bilquis Sheikh

This Muslim woman lived in Pakistan during the 1960s. Comparing Bible and the Koran, saw startling differences. Asked God, "Which one is Your book?" He replied, In which book do you meet me as your Father? Despite persecution/fear/ threats, she wrote the book, I Dared to Call Him Father.

b. Hindus and Buddhists don’t know a god as a father. Yet in many of these cultures, family and Father have greater importance than many American families! God’s name (Holy, set apart, unmatched by any other being, and Hallowed) is for us… “Father”… This has a RECONCILING effect—first to God, then to the global family of God. For more detail about the globalized nature of God’s familial community of prayer …

c. The ONE TIME Jesus was most ANGRY?... Matthew 21:12–13… (Mark 11:17; quoting Isaiah 56:7) “My house”—not “My temple” (familial, not institutional)—“for all nations” (multi-national). What part of temple? COURT OF GENTILES. Early church met DAILY in homes AND in the temple (Acts 2:46). Where? Solomon’s porch (Acts 5:12–16) … healing the sick … casting out demons! “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (v.14).

God’s Community of prayer is designed to be a RECONCILING, MULTI-NATIONAL FAMILY, and… a TRANSFORMING KINGDOM.

2. God’s Community of prayer is a ROYAL FAMILY. “Your Kingdom…. as it is in heaven” (v. 10). What does our King’s kingdom look like, and what will it look like in heaven? (Revelation 21:9–27)

a. City (v. 9) “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb”… (v.10) a new City!... (vv.12–21) describe the city dimensions: 2000 stadia (1380 miles) square cube = Holy of Holies. Who was allowed in it? (v. 24) The nations, in Christ ALL are priests… (Revelation 5:9) This is why Peter can call us a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9).

b. Bringing into it the Glory and Honor of Nations (v. 26) Conquering kings of the earth capture kingdoms and bring the glory and honor (people, possessions, power) as BOOTY. But in God’s advancing kingdom, captives come willingly and JOYFULLY, bringing their glory and honor as a TRIBUTE to the ultimate king. ALL cultures are transformed into something God-glorifying!


Application for the CHURCH
We live in a time when the world is more urban and globalized than ever before:

  • In 1910, 5% of the world lived in cities. Today, 50%. By 2050: 75%.
  • In 1980’s only about 1:20 marriages were “mixed-race” in America. Today, it is 1:7.
  • By 2050: Euro-Anglo White Americans will no longer be the majority in US. Already, “minority races” are close to 40% of US population.
  • But Sunday at 11am in America is still known as “the most segregated hour of the week.”

My cross-cultural ministry/“missiological” training taught the Homogeneous Unit Principle as the best church growth strategy…. But I found it to be more sociological than Scriptural! Even the author (McGavaran 1970’s) admitted “it is primarily an evangelistic strategy,” and warned of the danger of ethnocentric churches becoming “exclusive, arrogant, and racist! This must be resolutely combatted!” The question is HOW will it be combatted?

a. Live out rest of the Lord’s Prayer in pursuit of all-nations-inclusive community of prayer; “Give us (not just me)… Forgive us (of ethnocentrism)… Lead us away from temptation (please ourselves)… Deliver us from– the Evil one (divide and conquer). Bethlehem Racial Harmony.

b. Plant new churches: New City of Nations Church will exist to advance the reconciling and transforming reign of Christ among all peoples, through a redeemed community of all peoples. Meeting at Matthews Community Center in September.

c. Trust and follow your heavenly Father’s lead: No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6–7). Help Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist neighbors to KNOW the Father.


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