Diverse in Culture, Nation, Race

This week, the Notes from Susie blog will highlight a written piece from Randy Edwards, brother to Notes from Susie co-author Mark Edwards, and Minister of Music at Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. 

Friday evening, I was working a little late in the church office. Around 6:45 p.m., just as it had gotten dark, I set the alarm and locked the office door, headed for my car nearby. As I got into my vehicle, I noticed headlights slowly coming my direction from Huebner Road. The little black car drove cautiously past me and parked not far away. Emerging from his vehicle, the young man who had been driving seemed to need something. I lowered my window and said, "Hi, there! Is there something I can do for you?"

"Yes, sir, I am looking for the ESL class. Is it here?" The tall, dark young man was handsome and he smiled broadly as he spoke. 

"Oh...well.. uh, I don't think they meet on Friday evenings," I said. Gesturing to the Youth Building, I said, "that's where they usually are." All was vacated and dark. 

We talked about all that for several moments, trying to figure out how he could connect with ESL. At one point, I extended my hand to the young man and asked, "what is your name?"

"Abid," he said, now with a broader smile. 

"Hi, Abid. My name is Randolph."

"Randolph," he repeated, shaking my hand and his head up and down. 

"Where are you from, Abid?"

"Iran," he said, with a hint of uncertainty in his dark eyes. He seemed suddenly a little worried about my response to that information. I took that opportunity to smile broader myself. 

"And how long have you been in the United States?"

"Four months," he replied. 

"Well, that's great! Welcome. Abid, you are already doing GREAT with your English. Yes, you speak English very well."

He smiled again with a hint of pride and perhaps relief to have another foreign encounter successfully completed. I wonder how much pressure that must be, having to navigate in a strange country in a new language over and over again, time after time, every day. 

After exchanged good wishes and some instruction about how to connect with ESL, Abid and I said goodbye and departed in separate directions. 

Leaving 15315 Huebner, I thought about how the world is literally coming to us. What glorious opportunities to be the body of Christ! What great open doors for newfound joy, friendship, relationships, and community. How could anyone not immediately like Abid and not wish him Godspeed as he learns English and finds his place among us? I hope to reconnect with Abid again. It is an honor to be his new friend. 

- Randy Edwards

Randy’s writing here reminds me of a rather new and thoughtful hymn included in the Celebrating Grace Hymnal. Ruth Duck’s words become more and more applicable to American Christians with the passage of time.  

Diverse in culture, nation, race,
     we come together by Your grace.
God, let us be a meeting ground
     where hope and healing love are found.

God, let us be a bridge of care
     connecting people everywhere.
Help us confront all fear and hate
     and lust for power that separate. 

When chasms widen, storms arise,
     O Holy Spirit, make us wise.
Let our resolve, like steel, be strong
     to stand with those who suffer wrong.

God, let us be a table spread
     with gifts of love and broken bread,
     where all find welcome, grace attends,
     and enemies arise as friends.

Words – Ruth Duck, 1991 © by GIA Publications, Inc.

Three phrases grab me –
“lust for power that separates”
“stand with those who suffer wrong”
“grace attends, and enemies arise as friends”

May we be the body of Christ unto those who may feel separated, who have suffered wrong, and who could arise as friends. 

- Mark