Andy Tran

University Seventh-day
Adventist Church

What a puppy taught us about being international


What a puppy taught us about being international

Feb 22, 2017Thoughts

He’s cute.

At least, that is what many people say about the dog pictured above. At approximately ten pounds, Joey belongs to one of our church members. When we started asking about him, we discovered some parallels between Joey and our international Sabbath.

Part this, part that. All cute.

One little kid once asked Joey’s owner if Joey was black or white. Puzzled, she responded that Joey was both. The little one kept insisting, was it a black dog with white spots, or vice versa? She could not really explain, he was both black and white! If you have a multi-colored dog, have you stopped to ask yourself about their real color? Why or why not?

Joey, we learned, is part Havanese and part Papillon. While the Havanese side is not as visible, it reveals part of Joey’s ancestry originating from Cuba. The papillon side traces its orgins from the spaniel breed, which some speculate (Wikipedia) is either from France or Italy. In any case, Joey is a dog from all over. He is an international puppy, if you will. But he still knows how to bring joy to peoples’ lives even if he sometimes makes mistakes.

Can international churches learn from puppies?

Have you heard the joke some smart people make about foreign food? In America we refer to different ethnic cuisines as “[insert country in possessive form] food.” We say Indian food, Thai food, Swedish food, etc. Some casually respond, “Or as they call it in their country, food.” In other words, what we classify as foreign is native to someone else. We do not always need the foreign moniker 🙂

When discussing heaven, we like to think of it as an international multitude. People from every country, nation, tribe, and language (see Revelation for this kind of language) will be there. Everyone comes from different background with different stories to share. Being international in heaven is a non-issue. No matter where our origin we belong to the family of God through Jesus and His sacrifice. Period. No other condition can make you a part of that family.

As a church, we must rise above the negativity that constantly surrounds us. We must be the beacon of light that shines God’s character to the entire world (Matthew 5:14). As a result, they can see our good works and praise our Father in heaven. Sometimes this means turning the other cheek. Sometimes this means unfair treatment (look at how Jesus was killed by the hands of His own). Like puppies, they are always smiling and ready to greet you, even if they have been in a crate for hours on end or spent their time alone. They put a smile on your face, and make burdensome days slightly lighter. We can share the love of Jesus to those around us, even if we have been poorly treated. Why? Because these are God’s children, and they need to know His love.

Why we <3 our diverse family

Our church family comes from different parts of America and around the world. This year we’ll have almost 40 countries represented in our building. Some come from Africa, China, and even Europe. Some have heard about Jesus for the first time or have been worshipping Him back in their homeland. Five minutes with someone opens your world to many new things. It truly becomes a taste of heaven.

We do not consider ourselves perfect in any manner, but through God’s grace we hope to share the Gospel of hope for a hopeless world. Like Joey (or any other puppy for that manner), we can share the Gospel through our actions and reactions. Let us strive to be the positive light God wants us to become. Let our international nature celebrate our backgrounds and assist us in moving closer to Jesus’ coming.



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