Someone asked me recently about an unusual ministry opportunity. I have had them. There was the time I was asked to go to an African American Seventh Day Adventist church. I was one of two white people out of about 300 African American’s. They were such warm lovely people. I loved all the Happy Sabbath greetings. Now before we get into a discussion on theology, let me just share with you what happened.
My husband worked with a woman from the island’s name Marcia. She asked my husband one day if we had any saris. She knew my husband was from “somewhere over there.” He said no but we had salwar and kameez, the traditional dress of Pakistan. She was supposed to give a mission talk at her church. He quickly volunteered his wife and daughters to help her.
I asked him many questions. Since he has a tendency to only half listen to anyone, he wasn’t much help. He had a date and it was a church. Then he said I think it is during their regular worship service. In my mind, of course I thought Sunday. I didn’t know they were Seventh-day Adventists. My husband didn’t even know there was such a things as a Seventh-day Adventist.
A few days before, he brought home a paper that gave the mission story. A barber named Tapir, in a small town in Indian, was witnessing to people and people were coming to the Lord. I looked on the paper to get a clue as to the type of church to which we were going. No clue!
Then he said the date. I looked at the calendar and said “that is a Saturday?” He tried to call the woman. No luck! All of a sudden, what was supposed to be a family outing was not looking too promising. Our two younger daughters who were supposed to be part of this mission show-and-tell were scheduled to go on a trip to the ice show that morning. They had to catch a bus at 10:30 a.m.
Lighari’s are known for this type of confusion. We got up, got our Pakistani clothes on. Now my husband, the true Pakistani NEVER puts on these clothes. The non-Pakistani wife always becomes the demonstration model. We drove to the north end of Hartford. The north end is predominantly African-American. After much circling, we found the large old synagogue, now a Seventh - day Adventist church.
We walk in and find Marcia. She is flitting around like the proverbial chicken. Latif explains to her that we have a conflict but that Joyce will stay with you. Sabbath school begins and we sing and listen to some scripture. It is now time for my husband and girls to leave me alone.
Marcia whispers to me that when it is our turn, she’ll go up with me so I can tell the mission story. I thought WHAT???? I thought I was just the demo. Our time came quickly. My thoughts raced. I was dressed in a rather fancy Pakistani outfit, black with gold trim. The barber was poor. It was a poor village. Up to this point I had a coat over my clothes.
We walked to the front of this congregation of several hundred African-American Adventists. I thought what am I doing here. I smiled. I said good morning. They replied good morning. I told them I was a wealthy woman who lived in a small village in India. Even though I was wealthy, I had no peace. Something was missing in my life. I heard that Tapir, a barber in my village was talking about Jesus. Even though it was unacceptable for a woman of my standing in the community to go to this barbershop I went. I went because I needed peace. I went because I wanted to know who this Jesus was. I went and Tapir told me about Jesus. I received Jesus and now I have peace. I thank God for Tapir.
I wonder what they thought. I wonder if anyone thought I really was from India. Nevertheless, they seemed quite pleased. They went into their smaller groups scattered around the sanctuary. I joined one. We studied a passage from the gospels. As I left to wait for my husband to come back for me smiling faces thanked me and said “Happy Sabbath!”