by Naomi Sicks | Sep 29, 2021 | Diversity
When Chris first shared his idea about singing the Doxology in different languages, I was skeptical. The thought of our international congregation singing simultaneously in all their languages sounded heavenly. But, why do it with the old-fashioned Doxology? The idea made my hippie-Christian skin crawl. When I was a child visiting my grandparents’ liturgical churches, I never understood all the standing up and sitting down. The responsive readings sounded like a sea of monotone voices that seemed insincere about the words they were reciting. So why sing the Doxology at a church like One Voice?
Well, you can imagine my surprise at the tears running down my cheeks as I began singing it for the first time at worship team practice. Andrew’s arrangement is moving and beautiful. We sang the Doxology once in English before repeating the stanza twice in our own languages: Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Urdu, Dari, Amharic, and English. Suddenly, I couldn’t even sing! My throat closed up as tears of joy ran down my face. Nothing prepared me for the gorgeous sound of many languages praising God together with one voice.
As we sang it in worship the following week, I looked around at the faces of my dear friends from all over the world. Their expressions changed from concentration as they sang English, to delight when they switched to the languages they grew up speaking (what we call their heart languages). The moment truly was a glimpse of heaven. People from many tribes and tongues singing together with one voice, with heart, worshipping our one Father in heaven.
I was humbled and honored to go back to my dear husband and say the words, “You were right!”
by Chris Sicks | Feb 12, 2021 | Our Leaders
To me, One Voice Fellowship is “du-jamais-vu”—something I have not seen before. And yet I am extremely excited because of my interest in songs from different languages and genres and how they can be used in worship. I believe a Spirit-filled church is to reach out to all nations in their context with the uncompromised gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. One Voice represents what the church of Christ is called to be as it prepares for the marriage supper of the Lamb, where people from every tribe and tongue will worship our great God together (Revelation 19:6-10; 5:9-10).
I grew up in Bible-believing home, something that I only ascribe to the grace of God. Yet, as I look at my life, I would not say that this blessing spared me from temptation and sin. As I continue in the faith, I realize how many my sins are—but also how great and mighty my Savior Jesus Christ is. I thank God for each moment of success, anxiety, worry, doubt, and uncertainty I have had. They remind me that God must remain the light through which I see all lights (Psalm 36:9). When I struggle, my sources of comfort and refuge are seeking God through prayer, recalling the prayers He has answered, singing and making gospel music, and studying God’s word. In deep darkness I have come to see that there is no other hope for me beside daily and patiently trusting in God and not leaning on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).
During my studies at African Bible University of Uganda, I looked at the state of the church in Africa and realized that most pastors are passionate and zealous for the gospel, but have little training in how to rightly handle the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). I felt the need to share what I was studying with these ministers of the gospel so that knowledge and passion may work together for the advancement of the gospel. As one who is aware that God is still molding me day by day, my prayer is that God would make me an instrument in His hands and a daily beggar who shows other beggars where they can find the bread of life, through teaching, preaching, and singing as the Lord leads. My current studies at Westminster Theological Seminary are challenging but are shaping and sanctifying me in many ways. I am being equipped, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to work out my salvation with fear and trembling because of the work that God is daily doing in me (Philippians 2:12-13).
A local-church internship is required for my Master of Divinity degree, so I prayed that God would help me find a church to help me grow by applying what I am learning at Westminster. Thanks be to God for the loving and humble person of Pastor Chris, who called on me to come to be a part of One Voice Fellowship as a pastoral and worship intern, which I consider to be an answered prayer. I hope and pray that as we serve one another and come together in one voice to worship our God (Romans 15:5-7), we will continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) for the edification of one another, for our joy, and above all else, for the glory of God (Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
by Chris Sicks | Jan 20, 2021 | Our Leaders
Kashif, his wife, Sana, and their daughter
We are both from Pakistan. Born in Christian families, we were very involved in our church’s youth ministry and choir. In Pakistan it was our routine to participate in every church activity, because we know how difficult it is for us to live without God. When we moved to the US in December 2019, we were worried about our Christian life. When you move to a place where you do not know anyone it’s scary. But we prayed a lot for ourselves and especially for our daughter, Joy.
In Pakistan we had an idea that people in America are far away from God and if you go to church you will only see old people, because the young generation do not come to church.
But when we came here and met Pastor Chris we felt that we had known each other for many years. He is our spiritual father, always helpful, and loves us as Christ loves us. So when pastor Chris told us about OVF, we were very excited. We thought, “Wow! How amazing it will be to pray in our own language in a place where other people will also listen to us pray and sing in our language.”
We really feel proud and thankful to God that we are a part of OVF. There is no distinction based on where you are from. People listen to our testimony, about how hard life is to be a Christian in Pakistan. So it feels that we are all the same here. As the Bible said, we should love each other as God loves us!
by Chris Sicks | Jul 6, 2020 | Our Leaders
Yaovi & Patricia lead our French-speaking team.
Yaovi and Patricia are part of the One Voice launch team, leading our French-language ministry and small group.
When we first heard about One Voice Fellowship, my wife Patricia and I immediately agreed that God wanted us to be a part of this new church. God, the great Artist, made each of us in His own image. To Him, people of every language and culture pray, “Our Father.” (Matthew 6:9-13). In Christ, all nations are blessed through the promise made to Abraham (Genesis 22:18). Who are we to question God’s wisdom by saying one culture is better than another? Instead, we celebrate His divine wisdom when we welcome one another as God has welcomed us (Romans 15:7). This is why we want to be a part of One Voice—to welcome others as Christ has welcomed us.
In this welcoming spirit, there is no longer a distinction of race, gender, language, or economic status. Instead, we can live in harmony. Our differences allow us to help and sharpen one another as a family united in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
I tasted the sweetness of this welcome when I first came to this country. My brothers and sisters in Christ have been for me the hands and feet of Jesus. They have shared their homes with me, their possessions, and literally clothed me (Acts 4:32; Matthew 25:36). In their love, God’s Word became tangible and sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103).
More importantly, Pastor Chris shaped my understanding of true Christianity. He taught me to love unconditionally. His ministry and sacrificial heart have transformed my understanding of how to be a good husband, a father, and to love my neighbors unconditionally.
Dorothy Day describes the kind of community we are building here: “Living together, working together, sharing, loving God and loving our brother, and living close to him in the community so we can show our love for Him.”
In my home country, pastors are like small gods. They take advantage of their authority. But Pastor Chris has the humility to say, “I am sorry” when he is wrong. Thank you for this.
In heaven, we will see a great multitude that no one can count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne to worship God (Revelation 7:9). We surely can’t wait for that day! But today, we can get a taste of this at One Voice Fellowship. We are excited to serve in a community of believers from all corners of the world, working together to bring the good news to all our neighbors so that, together we may with one voice glorify Our Father (Romans 15:6). We hope you will join us in this ministry!
by Chris Sicks | May 31, 2020 | About One Voice, Uncategorized
Any good logo will tell you something about the organization it represents. Here are three ideas behind the One Voice logo:
1) Global — The shape reminds us of the earth, and that God’s people are called to share the Good News with all people groups, wherever they are found.
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
“Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all ethne, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
2) Christ-Centered — A prism divides white light into red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Like a prism, language and culture often divide the Body of Christ. But the cross is white in our logo because Christ’s Body already contains people from every tribe and language. We can experience more of the fullness of Christ’s Body when we participate in a diverse community.
“I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
3) Intercultural — Many churches strive to be multicultural, as they should. Intercultural is a step further and is our goal at One Voice. See how the colors change when they interact with one another? As in marriage, our goal is to be in such close community with each other that we are both changed by the experience, for the better.
“When we begin to interact with someone whose cultural formation is different from ours, whether at the ends of the earth, in the next valley, or on our own street, and when we attempt to understand one another well, we are involved in “intercultural” interaction. Intercultural describes what happens between cultures. Intercultural learning happens when we learn from one another as our lives intersect.” (Christians and Cultural Difference, Smith and Dykstra-Pruim, 15.)
by Chris Sicks | Apr 30, 2020 | Uncategorized
One Voice Fellowship is a community that celebrates unity among diverse people. We are from all corners of the world, so we think, sing, pray, eat, and live in different ways. This variety of human experience is beautiful and part of God’s design. But it frequently causes division. How can we respond when human differences create friction? R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr. tells a helpful story in his book, Building a House for Diversity.
A giraffe built a home perfect for his family, with soaring ceilings, tall doorways, and narrow hallways. While working in his woodshop one day, the giraffe saw an elephant he knew, because their children attend school together. The giraffe decided to invite the elephant in to see his woodshop, because he knew they shared a passion for woodworking.
The elephant gladly accepted. But, as he entered the giraffe’s home, the elephant started breaking things. The stairs cracked under his weight. The doorways and walls crumbled because he was so big.
The giraffe looked around in amazement! Then he said, “I see the problem. The doorway is too narrow for you. We have to make you smaller. If you take some aerobics classes, we could get you down to size.”
“Maybe,” said the elephant, looking unconvinced.
“And the stairs are too weak to carry your weight,” the giraffe continued. “If you go to ballet classes, you won’t weigh as much. I really hope you’ll do it. I like having you here.”
“Perhaps,” the elephant said. “But to tell you the truth, I’m not sure that a house designed for a giraffe would ever really work for an elephant, not unless there are some major changes.”
Mr. Thomas explains his parable this way: “The giraffes are the people in control. They, or their ancestors, built the house. They decide the policies and procedures…and know the unwritten rules for success because they created them…The elephant is warmly invited and generally welcomed, but he is the outsider. The house was not built with the elephant in mind. To get along in someone else’s house, the elephants must leave their needs and their differences at the front door.”
Too often, our churches treat elephants (newcomers who aren’t from the majority culture) like this. We are very glad they’ve come to visit. But as they try to get comfortable, to settle into the community, they learn they are expected to change. In the story, the elephant resists bearing the full burden of change. He thinks maybe the giraffe’s house should make some changes.
One of the central values of One Voice Fellowship is that we are all willing to be flexible, to make changes to accommodate one another. Sometimes we pray in English, but we often pray in other languages. Sometimes a single person prays out loud, but we often pray simultaneously—because that is more comfortable for some of us. Sometimes we sing hymns that are familiar and meaningful to portions of our community. But we also sing new songs, in various languages, perhaps with a tempo that is unfamiliar. We do these things because we love one another, we learn from each other, and we are more complete together!
Would you please pray with us and for us? We want to do the hard but glorious work necessary to “live in such harmony with one another” (Romans 15:5) that it can be explained only by the presence and power of Christ among us.