ROGERS – What might be described as “a little taste of heaven on earth” happens every Sunday at Open Door Baptist Church in Rogers.
There, Pastor Jerry Harris and the Anglo congregation of the church meet concurrently with the Open Door Korean Baptist Church and with Iglesia Bautista Oikos. Every Sunday Anglos, Koreans and Hispanics meet under the same roof to worship.
“Once each month these three culturally diverse congregations meet together to celebrate what heaven is going to be like when every tribe, tongue and nation come together in the presence of our great Savior, Jesus!” said R.E. Clark, associational missionary for Northwest Baptist Association.
Recently all three congregations came together simultaneously for a morning of singing and preaching. Pastors Jerry Harris of Open Door Baptist, Kim Young-Gurl of Open Door Korean Baptist and Daniel Cerda of Iglesia Bautista Oikos organized the joint service. Clark preached the morning message.
“Each congregation provided special music in their heart languages, and all joined in unison as words to songs were displayed in English, Korean and Spanish,” said Clark. “It was easy to imagine what it would be like one day in heaven as multitudes of other languages sing in harmony the songs of Zion!”
Before Clark began preaching, he noted to the congregation how much this scene looked like heaven – except for one small matter. The Anglos were all seated in one section; the Koreans, in another, and the Hispanics, in yet another. “Not quite like heaven after all,” said Clark.
The congregants were then asked to stand and were regrouped according to the day of the month on which each head of household was born. Everyone reassembled by birthday in the center of the sanctuary with Anglos, Koreans and Hispanics now thoroughly interspersed in the mix.
“Now, it looked like heaven!” said Clark, who preached in English while the message was translated into Korean and then Hispanic.
“As the message began, the translators stumbled over each other a bit as they determined who was to go first. But then it all came together! Like a fine-tuned three-cycle engine, the Word of God was preached into the heart language of three congregations meeting together under one roof and in the presence of heaven itself! The result: three saved and multiple other decisions were made while there was joy in the presence of the angels! The service concluded with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Representatives from each congregation participated in the distribution of the elements and the times of prayer,” said Clark.
“It was indeed heaven on earth for one day in a church that has learned that God is not finished with them yet. With 10 acres of property and a large facility, this congregation has revitalized themselves, not in a traditional way by trying to regrow the Anglo congregation, but by becoming what God has always intended the church to be – a place where all who will eventually go to heaven can gather now and again while still living together here on earth,” said Clark.
What’s just as amazing, Clark said, is that Harris, the pastor of Open Door Baptist, surrendered to the ministry at age 62, following retirement from a secular vocation.
“Now at 70 years young, he and his wife Alice are leading Open Door Baptist Church to a new day of potential in reaching the world in and from northwest Arkansas,” said Clark.