Horizon Weekly | 20 August 2020
By Carlos Pulgarin*
It was a Saturday in February. The couples started to arrive one by one. Some had an air of skepticism while others held a noticeable curiosity in their eyes. Their reactions were not without reason as the name of the event was: Romantic dinner—Boleros and a little something else. Is an event like this possible while keeping Christ in focus? The answer is a resounding yes.
Building bridges is what we’re called to do as the church. In our call to outreach—of leaving the four walls of the church building and reflecting God’s love to those who don’t know Him—we’ve come up short. We have not been capable of breaking through our own cultural and religious barriers.
It would seem that the church—referring to both us as Christians and the temple itself—were an exclusive club, privy to only a select few. The reality of the Gospel is that the Good News should be brought to people. It should be proclaimed in our streets, workplaces, cafés and restaurants. The Gospel should be part of our sports scenes and our community centres. It should be the answer and anchor we hold on to in times of emergency. As God’s ambassadors on Earth, we’re called to go to people as He came to us. We are the hands of Jesus, His feet, His voice.
This is a group effort and only possible if we work together. It is not in vain that the church is called the body of Christ. We have different limbs with different functions all given to us by the multifaceted grace of God. The Bible states that some will sow, some will water, and others will harvest. With their strengths and weaknesses, our local churches are called to work hand in hand with our convention.
This Romantic dinner—Boleros and a little something else was made possible by the Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC). It was the result of much prayer, countless conversations, financial support and mutual collaboration.
Love for God and passion for His people—which is the summary of the law and the prophets, as said by Jesus—compels us to set aside our differences and centre ourselves on what’s important, all to glorify God’s name.
I remember the first time I met Cesar Parra. It was an afternoon three years ago in Vancouver, BC, where we came to have a shared sense of empathy. Not just for the fact that we’re both Latinos. Something greater connected us. A passion to make Jesus a topic of conversation in current events, on our streets, with our friends and in our communities.
Cesar’s evangelistic and missionary experience in Toronto, Spain, and now as a team leader in the CNBC motivated us to continue what we started eight years ago with Zona Cero. Making the Gospel accessible and available to all. We’re a church for those who don’t go to church and we’re located in Surrey, BC.
His conviction and passion for sharing the Gospel through unconventional means are what motivated and prompted us to invite Cesar to our church a year ago. Through that first visit the groundwork began being laid for the Romantic dinner—Boleros and a little something else that we celebrated this February. A total of 30 couples, mostly non-Christian, arrived, listened, participated and celebrated, leaving with huge smiles on their faces.
The tables decorated with care and love for each couple, the romantic scene and the exquisite food were all an excuse to share what was most important—the hope that resides in Jesus Christ. Many of these relationships, fraught with problems and at their breaking points, came together in that room, with the Word of God serving as the metaphorical glue. The Word of God came to be the anchor that offered stability in the tempest and rough seas of life.
After a couple of ice-breakers and romantic songs, the Word of God was delivered informally but clearly, allowing people to evaluate their relationships and commit to loving each other no matter the circumstances. By the time dinner was served you could see the room changing as God continued to touch their hearts. Couples were now holding hands and understanding the importance of dedicating time to one another and shifting their focus and gaze to God.
It was a majestic night. I could see the hand of Jesus in everything we did: in Cesar’s job as a facilitator, in the church working together to make this possible, in the CNBC supporting us and providing resources. Most importantly, the couples that attended the dinner, although far away from a church, had now begun seeing God’s interest in their relationships and families.
And it didn’t end there. When Cesar preached the next day in our Sunday service and gave an altar call, eleven people made the decision to follow Jesus and passed from death to life. That’s how Jesus did it. Simply, informally and in the midst of people. That is how we are called to live out the Good News.
*Carlos Pulgarin is a pastor and journalist, currently leading Zona Cero Ministries
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