Ralph Starling is our Minister of Christian Invitation and this fall he’s offering a class in “Radical Hospitality.” But Ralph is also teaching by example, as he has for years. Last Sunday he brought a van load of International students from VCU to our “One Sunday” celebration at First Baptist Church, which featured an old-fashioned dinner on the grounds after worship. Here’s an email he got from a Chinese student later that same day. I’m publishing it just the way she wrote it.
Thank you alot today. I never went a church before but I bet it was the most wonderful experience I had in America. Thank you for introducing so many nice people there. They were all very nice just like you. They treated each other like family. That was so moving. They gathered together beacuse of love， sympathy and mercy in their hearts. These valuable things would bring guidance and hope in my future life. Just talking with them, I felt peaceful. These days I found it so hard to live and study alone in VCU. I was disappointed and wondered if I was wrong to choose study abroad. So much misable in my life. I felt I could not bear the stress. But today was a turn point, after I came back. In a moment, some thoughts flashed through my mind. I realized I should be grateful for my life. It made me stronger and let me discern who would be my life friends. I could choose to live a better life if I want. I’d better stop being negative.
I love what she says about church being “the most wonderful experience” she has had in America and how these particular church people “treated each other like family.” It makes me think that if we invite people to church, and make sure the doors and our hearts are open, lives could be changed.