We had our third OneHouse event in Mae Sot last week–a worship night with all welcomed to come and sing together, praying for God to envelop this town. It’s gone really well since we started it and we certainly filled out our home on Saturday night with over thirty adults and many kids singing together. It was full.
Every time we host this, I’m not sure how to involve our neighbors. Although we plan to have songs translated in the future, for now it is all English songs, which doesn’t really welcome our neighbors in. It’s obviously targeted at expats–English songs with Western-style worship and Western-style snacks following.
However, we live communally, so there are always kids outside and often adults. After opening our doors every other hour of the day, it seems incongruent to shut the gate for church. “Now we are having church, so you aren’t welcome to come” isn’t something I see exemplified in the Gospels.
But the minute you open up your doors, you might have a hundred people outside. They might be screaming children. They might play football. They might be drunk adults. They might talk loudly on a cell phone. They might come bleeding.
There is no telling.
Meanwhile, I have a house full of friends I am intending to host. I want to provide a place for them to worship, which for most, their definition of worship doesn’t include screaming, blood, or drunkenness at first glance.
So I never know how it will go. The first two nights we’ve hosted this, I’ve sat by the door and allowed a few kids to sit inside if they are interested in listening. I’ve told them we are having church so they need to be quiet; I motion with exaggerated “praying hands” whenever we are praying, to signal them to be quiet.
It gets complicated because the expat kids are allowed to play in the corner, but we really can’t open it up to our neighborhood for that, since some twenty or thirty kids would come. Instead, we let them sit in and listen, but they can’t play. It seems unfair.
It is unfair and messy. And the world seems to be unfair & messy often.
This time, it was just beautiful. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
A couple kids came in near the beginning and plopped down at the door, with one in my lap. They tried to follow along with the English words and kept up with each song we were on. They even ignored the toy car that ran by in front of their toes.
And then, they sang. They sang along–oh so loudly & boldly–to English songs. The first I noticed it on was We Are Yours, which repeats enough that they could sing along.
We are Yours, we are Yours, we are Yours.
Then I heard them singing along to Set A Fire. They did surprisingly well keeping up with the “words”–or at least tones that sounded a whole lot like it–and it was just really beautiful.
That is our prayer. That they will be His. That they will have fire down in their soul.
By the end of the evening, we had a house full of expat adults singing praises in our home, with the overflow on the porch. We had a few adults from our neighborhood gathered outside and at the door to listen and a few kids singing loudly inside the front door.
And this–this is the dream for OneHouse, unfolding before us!