I am proud of my Italian heritage. Italians have some of the best food, some of the most tight-knit families, and an overabundance of passion (for better or for worse!). I loved growing up in a large Italian family. When we would get together, everything was loud, crazy and fun. I remember the first time I brought Sarah to meet my extended family. She had flown in from Colorado, and we went to my Aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. I don’t think she had ever experienced anything quite like it!
This past weekend while we were at Fairwinds Baptist Church (Bear, DE), I felt like I was back with my family. Pastor DeStefano is not only a faithful servant of the Lord, he is also an Italian… and proud of it! When you pair exuberance for life and a love for the Lord (as is evident in Pastor DeStefano’s life), you have a winning combination. I would encourage you to take time to read his testimony of how the Lord transformed his life and saved his soul.
Pastor DeStefano is not the only Italian within the congregation, though. There seems to be a healthy population scattered throughout the church body. In fact I think I heard the most “Amens” in the morning message while I was talking about Italian food and making a pot of “gravy” (what others might call spaghetti sauce)!
But what makes this church unique is that there are many other nations represented as well. Fairwinds is a multi-cultural congregation with folks from all over the world. In fact, while there on Wednesday night Lydia became fast friends with a dear lady within the church who was originally from Kenya.
And of course, as we have found all throughout our travels, we even had the joy of greeting dear believers from the Philippines.
This brings to light what I shared with the children on Wednesday from 2 Peter 1:1. The Scripture records: “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Peter is writing to those who have received the same, valuable faith he possessed. There was no hierarchy or division among those who share this faith. Peter, as an apostle, did not set himself on a higher plain above other believers. He says we share the same valuable faith. Something that made the early church unique is something that should make the modern church unique today. All those who place their faith in Jesus Christ are immersed into ONE body. Two thousand years ago this was a revolutionary concept. It did not matter if you were a man or woman; if you were a slave or free; if you were a Jew or Gentile. If your faith rested in Jesus Christ, you were a child of God. So it remains today—it does not matter where a person lives, or what their background might be. Simple faith in Jesus Christ places you into God’s family.
And just to note, the end of the verse makes it very clear that becoming a part of God’s family rests wholly upon what God accomplished through Jesus Christ, and has nothing to do with your own “righteousness.” Jesus did what no other person could do—live a sinless life. When He died, he bore the punishment for your sin. All those who will turn to Jesus and claim Him as their Savior are forgiven of sin and placed into the family of God. If you are not a child of God, you can be born into God’s family today!