A Light to the Nations

In Isaiah 49, the people of God are given the privilege of eavesdropping on a conversation between the members of the Godhead. God the Father is commissioning God the Son to rescue wayward Israel—to bring Jacob back from his error and reconcile him to faithfulness. But as lofty as that divine mission of salvation for Israel is, the Father tells us in verse 6 that it's not grandiose enough. He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light to the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (emphasis added). As glorious of an accomplishment as it is, saving Israel alone is too small a job for a Savior like the Lord Jesus. He deserves to be worshiped by all peoples, to be honored by all nations. God's salvation is too wonderful to be confined to any one nation; it must reach to the end of the earth!

It is that conviction that fuels our church's commitment to the Great Commission. Jesus Christ is worthy to be praised by all peoples, and so we send missionaries to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19). But in the kind providence of God, here in Los Angeles the Lord has brought many of those nations directly to us. In Van Nuys alone, sixty percent of residents were born in another country, ranking in the ninety-ninth percentile of all neighborhoods in the United States. And according to a recent UCLA study, there are 224 languages spoken in Los Angeles County. These statistics point to a wonderful opportunity for our church to minister to an international community without leaving our own neighborhood.

One way our church takes advantage of that opportunity is through ethnic outreach Bible studies. In addition to a thriving Spanish Ministry, Grace Church has Bible studies that reach out to our local Arabic, Filipino, Italian, Korean, Russian, and Thai communities. While that's not quite 224, it is a true ministry to these six language and cultural groups who receive sound biblical teaching, sing worship songs, and enjoy fellowship, all in their mother tongues.

In addition to these regular meetings, the dear servants in our ethnic outreach studies minister in a number of other ways. First, they do an excellent job of reaching out to their respective communities. From quarterly outreach picnics to hosting conferences, from serving in assisted living facilities to offering Thai cooking lessons, the focus of these groups is to be a light to Los Angeles by proclaiming the gospel wherever a door is open.

Second, these groups act as an excellent bridge between our Grace Church family and our beloved missionaries, providing a strong foundation of both prayer and financial support.

Finally, our ethnic ministries have helped translate solid biblical resources from Grace Church and The Master's Seminary in an effort to serve their cultural communities. These strategic projects have included the Fundamentals of the Faith curriculum, Pastor John's book, Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically, and The Cup and the Glory and The Darkness and the Glory by TMS Professor Greg Harris. Currently, each group is hard at work translating our "What It Means to Be a Christian" gospel tract, which you can find at the local outreach resource table on GraceWalk. And for the past two years, Pastor John's sermons have been live-stream translated into Arabic each Sunday morning. Beginning this month, a Korean live-stream translation will also be available.

In addition to all of this, there are always opportunities for our church family to serve alongside these faithful brothers and sisters. If you're interested in reaching out to local ethnic communities through regular Bible teaching, discussion, fellowship, and other special events, we would love to speak with you. If you speak another language and are interested in starting an outreach Bible study, we want to meet you and begin praying about how that can happen.

Besides these opportunities, our ethnic outreaches can be a great resource as you witness to people whose first language is not English. When you encounter folks of other ethnicities who still need to hear and embrace the gospel, or who are having trouble finding a church home, be sure to mention our ethnic ministries to them. And most importantly, as you lift up the ministry of Grace Church in prayer, remember our ethnic outreach ministries as they seek to serve the nations right here in our own neighborhood.

Mike Riccardi
Pastor, Local Outreach Ministries

For more information about ethnic outreach ministry opportunities, visit gracechurch.org/local or call 818-909-5721.