Jonathan Dodd: Loving the Bride of Christ

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Jonathan Dodd in China

A native of Pittsburgh, Jon Dodd graduated from Geneva College in 2005 with a degree in writing. He spent the next year in China, ministering to children and families by teaching English as a second language. During his time in China, he came to a new understanding of his role as a servant of Christ′s Church worldwide. Every Christian is part of the body of Christ - not just in their own communities, but in the Church around the world.

When I left Geneva College, God called me to serve as a teacher in China. I thought I'd go to see the world, gain some experience and maybe share the gospel, but so much more than that happened. During the year I spent living and teaching in Beijing, I began to understand what it means to be the Bride of Christ, and exactly how that Bride does and will look.

It was in an international church in Beijing that I first saw the multi-national Bride of Christ. It was in a Chinese church in Beijing that I first saw the multi-lingual Bride of Christ. And it was beautiful. It was from this that God called me back to America, to consider what this new picture of His beloved means for my life now.

I've been out of college for four years now, and I think a lot more about the world than I used to. I'm currently working at ELIC (English Language Institute China) in Fort Collins, Colorado. I work with teachers all over Asia who give anywhere from a summer to their entire lives to reach the people there. These teachers love the Bride of Christ in a different way than I do. They're there in an unfamiliar place where they will always be foreigners, raising their families in another hemisphere so that they can serve the Asian Bride of Christ and see it grow. They know how beautiful the Mongolian Bride of Christ is when it sings His praises, and they've seen the Vietnamese Bride of Christ lay down her life for her Bridegroom.

I marvel at how the Lord calls each of us to a specific place, and how he puts different places on each of our hearts. Just as Dutch statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper stated famously, "In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!′"

I think of those square inches literally. There is no spot on the earth too remote and no slum too crowded that Christ does not declare it His. Likewise, there is no government too dark nor people groups too lost from whom Christ does not require worship. Buddhist monks will worship Christ. European socialists and tribal Africans will worship Christ. Steeler Nation will worship Christ (we are a people group, for sure).

I lived 23 years of my life in America before I spent a year in China, and now it′s been three years since I returned. I hope those three years look different from the first 23 because I've asked myself, how can I support the worldwide Bride of Christ here where I am right now? How can I pray for her and her well-being? How can I love her while staying rather than going? These are questions we're all called to ask, as we're all called to serve the Church and give glory to Christ.