A little over two weeks ago I was headed south for a week of work (and play) in St. Augustine, FL. On the way there I decided to make a detour through Atlanta to meet a friend of mine who recently helped to plant a church in the inner city of Atlanta. John Onwuchekwa (Lead Pastor at Cornerstone) and I met at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. We were part of the same doctoral cohort. John has a vision for training ministers in an inner city context. When he told me about what he wants to do, I got excited and told him that when they got ready to plant Cornerstone to make sure he let me know so that Jennifer and I could support the church. Well he did, and so did we, and we continue to do so. This was the first time I actually got to physically visit the church to see what it’s all about.I immediately felt at home. I was warmly greeted when I arrived and it wasn’t too long before I met John’s wife and mother in law. I also got to meet one of the pastors (they have four), Moe Hafeez briefly before the service started. The worship through song was well done and rich. We sang a number of traditional hymns and other theologically rich songs that I was unfamiliar with. Every once in a while I would pause to look around at those gathered to worship their God. There was roughly 150 or so people together singing with all their heart to King Jesus. It was a privilege to be counted among them.
John wasn’t preaching that day since he was on sabbatical. I’ve heard John preach. He’s a gifted communicator and so I was a little disappointed when I heard he wouldn’t be preaching. Filling in for John that day was Trip Barfield, known to others as Trip Lee, the Christian hip-hop artist, and also one of the pastors at Cornerstone. I had never heard Trip preach before. His text was from Colossians 3:23–24. You can listen to it here. It was one of the best messages I’ve ever heard on work from a biblical perspective. Trip is an engaging expository preacher. He carefully walked through the text explaining it and finding ways to practically apply it to our lives.
After the service ended, it was back on the road to Florida. Most folks would think going to Florida and the beach would be the highlight of one’s week, rather than spending time in the West End of Atlanta. The beach was great and so was the time I spent working and hanging out with my colleagues. But the highlight by far was worshiping Jesus in a gospel-centered, Christ exalting church with brothers and sisters in Christ from various ethnic backgrounds. It was a reminder of what awaits all of God’s people at the consummation of the age. We have an eternity to look forward to of worshiping and serving our God with people from every tribe and tongue and nation. I hope and pray that more churches like Cornerstone will be planted in the years to come, and that if it is the Lord’s will, my family and I will be a part of one.