The Beauty and Hospitality of God’s Church in Waco
by Anthony Sytsma
My wife and I moved to Waco in January and we are only living here for one year as she completes an internship. So instead of committing to one church, over the past year we visited a new church in Waco just about every Sunday. We purposely visited churches of different denominations – Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Missionary Alliance, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Cowboy, and non-denominational. We went to large mega churches, small church plants, a church that meets in homes, and a church that meets on the street. We went to mostly Hispanic, mostly black, mostly white churches, and diverse churches.
Throughout these experiences, I was amazed at all the things churches are doing to help their communities. From our visits, we’ve learned and seen that churches are befriending the homeless, generously giving to the poor, taking care of young mothers and their infants, visiting those in jail, giving encouragement to drug addicts, visiting those in hospitals and nursing homes, and putting on vacation Bible schools for children. Many also volunteer their time at local organizations, such as at World Hunger Relief, where we live.
However, this is what struck us the most during our visits. At every single church we went to, we felt very loved and welcomed. No matter how we were dressed, no matter if we were the only ones there with our skin color, we were appreciated. People asked about our lives and listened to our stories. We were invited to other events and meals and were even given gifts. The person I remember best was a little boy who gave me a big smile and hug and said, “We love you.” That made my week.
Waco is full of beautiful, loving, hospitable churches that are eager to love people and get to know new people. So my encouragement to you reading this – you need not be afraid of visiting a church. Get out there and try a new church this next Sunday. It doesn’t seem to matter much which one you pick. My prediction is that you will be surprised at how loving, non-judgmental, and welcoming people will be to you. I believe the reason for this is that Jesus is at work among his people, sinful and imperfect though they are, transforming their hearts so that they can love others, as they have also received love and grace from God.
This week’s Act Locally Waco Blog post was written by Anthony Sytsma. He is at World Hunger Relief with his wife Sara who is an intern here. They are going to Uganda in February with World Renew as missionaries. He will be teaching pastors and she will be doing agricultural development. Thanks, Anthony for this lovely reflection on your time in Waco!
If you would like to write a post for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email [email protected]. Thank you!By Anthony Sytsma