Fellow Travelers on the Journey
The moment when a young adult realized what her home church really represented [Main Story]
BY LAURA GONZALEZ JORDAN
very summer I take some vacation time and visit my parents in Berrien Springs, Michigan. One of the things I look forward to the most is visiting my home church—the Berrien Springs Spanish church. I love this church. I learned to love the Lord within these four walls, and always feel welcome no matter how long it has been.
On this particular Sabbath the church was packed. We had just ended Sabbath school, and I was sitting with my mother in my usual spot toward the front. As my father, the pastor, and several men walked toward the platform, I remember thinking that they were looking very serious and distinguished in their dark suits.
The last song before the sermon was announced, and as a congregation we were asked to sing the hymn “It Is Well.” This has always been one of my favorite hymns in English, but I had never heard it sung in Spanish until that morning.
The Spanish church is built in a semicircle around the pulpit, with two large stained-glass windows facing toward the sanctuary. This makes for phenomenal acoustics. Voices seem to amplify and multiply in this church, and as we began to sing, I remember feeling enveloped by the music.
For me, tears easily accompany emotion. They are always there, hovering just below the surface, and as the words of the chorus—“Alcancé, alcancé, salvación!” (I have reached, I have reached, salvation!)—I started to feel a familiar tightness in my chest.
Every word seemed to speak to the struggles and longings I had experienced that week.
Ya venga la prueba . . .
Cristo comprende mis luchas, miafán
Y su sangre vertió en mi favor.
(Though trials should come . . .
Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And has shed His own blood for my soul.)
As the last few notes lingered in the air and the piano fell silent, the sound of our combined voices singing in beautiful harmony overwhelmed me. Before the last note faded, the person in charge of prayer began to speak. I quickly bowed my head and tried to compose myself. I could feel the tears rolling down my face and struggled to catch my breath.
After I regained my composure, I looked up and saw something that has become permanently etched in my memory.
All four men up front had their heads bowed, jaws clenched, lips pressed tight with emotion. I saw a hand reach up to wipe a tear away and immediately understood that I was not the only one who had been touched by the prayer that morning.
It was in that moment I realized something essential to my Christian walk. We all crave the same thing: to reach salvation and the Savior. This one solitary desire has the ability to strip away all our differences. In that brief moment we were all united: old, young, rich, poor, educated and uneducated, married and unmarried, black, white, and every shade in between.
As the prayer ended I realized I could never look at the people around me the same again. I had seen their vulnerability and shared it, and now I knew them for what they really were. Just like me, they were fellow travelers on a difficult journey, praying for the strength to take one more step toward the goal.
Laura Gonzalez Jordan writes from Durham, North Carolina, where she attends the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. This article was published November 17, 2011.