This past November we had our 11th annual Christian Mission Celebration at Embassy Suites in Tigard, at Washington Square. At the close of that event I had a new attender mention they did not know that the ‘C’ in the YMCA stood for Christian and that evening really made it clear. I remember someone saying years ago, “God hides nuggets of gold in plain day surprises.” This is very true in this person’s experience regarding the YMCA!
The opportunity we have almost each week in making known our history and heritage to staff, members and community reminds me of a New Testament event that launched a world-wide enterprise. In the New Testament book of Acts we read—“Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord. When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord." (Acts 11:19-23)
Antioch—present day Antakya, Turkey—may mean very little to most of us, but in the first century it was the third-largest metropolis in the empire—after Rome and Alexandria. The church there was founded by unknown and unnamed refugees from Cyrene and Cyprus. How did it happen? “The power of the Lord was with them…” (Acts 11:21) It was from this city that the major Christian missionary movement began.
Thinking back on the birth of the YMCA by 11 business men in London, England almost 175 years ago and how today it has become a world-wide influence is really powerful. But still, many in the communities we serve are unaware of our Christian heritage. I never get tired of sharing our story, how the “hand of the Lord” has guided us and like in Antioch, the message of Christ moves forward.
From the Desk of Bob Reichen