Question and Answer

Hispanics in the OPC

Question:

I was attending an OPC church for a short time. However, my wife and I began to feel uncomfortable because of the way we were being treated (I'll spare you the details) because we are Hispanic and the OPC is mostly Anglo. We are now worshiping at another church, where—although the people here are believers—my Calvinism gets me in trouble all the time. What am I to do? Please give me some counsel on this matter.

Answer:

Your question is a good one and I hope to give you a good answer.

Let me begin by saying that I am sad to hear that you feel that you were treated poorly by the OPC church. I am part black (Indian and Anglo as well), and can appreciate that sensitivity. We live in the south where that can be pretty strong, though it exists elsewhere.

My advice to you would be to return to the OPC, and talk with the pastor about this more. Both you and the church need to make a go of this, and strive to see the church embody on earth the unity that exists in heaven. I loathe the racial segregation of the church. It's one area in which our earthly-mindedness is most evident. The church should be made up of those "of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). Christians and pastors know this, but practicing it is hard, although cross-bearing does work. For as much as I hope the pastor and people at this church will be willing to "esteem others as better than themselves" (Phil. 2:3), and welcome you into their fellowship, I also hope you will be willing to bear the cross for their sake and especially Christ's.

It seems to be the case that there are a number of minorities joining the OPC. There are actually several all-Hispanic OPCs, with Spanish-speaking services [as well as Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, Native American, Portuguese, Sudanese and Vietnamese congregations.] I mention this only to let you know that the general ethos is not "let's be Anglo."

For your sake also, I would point out the importance of maintaining your convictions and pursuing the church because doctrine is vitally important (as you point out). My pilgrimage into the OPC had nothing to do with its culture, but everything to do with its theology. Like yourself, I had to put up with some awkwardness while people figured out what to do with me! But they did. It was a challenge to me and to them, and now I feel quite at home (even as an inter-racial pastor). Our church has blacks, Hispanics, and a few token white people (OK, that was a bit of humor!), and they seem to get along. It's possible.

So, in summary, I would ask you to bear your cross and endure the awkwardness that may take some time to overcome. Doing so seems not only better for your family, but also for the church; and more importantly for Christ's honor. But again, I would certainly talk with the pastor and share your challenges with him.

May the Lord bless you and your family.


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