As I read Acts 10 and 11, I’m forced to ask myself: who do I resemble more? Peter or Cornelius?

Most of my life I have been part of a group that is on the outside looking in.

In my pre-teens, after my family moved from the islands to the city, we were the “hillbillies.” Our accent betrayed our origins. We bore the marks of the underprivileged and the undereducated. We were not even accidental urbanites.

We were also poor. That was not necessarily a minority, but in a school where everyone was trying to pretend they were somebody, our plain and smelly rubber shoes gave us away too easily.

During my teens I became aware of another type of label I would have to contend with. I was a “Protestant,” usually the only one in my classes, all the way through high school. Mocking does not even come close to describing it. I was downright abused by my Catholic friends, who tried to force me to kiss “pictures” of Mary and came up with songs about how my dad robbed his parishioners of 10% of their salaries.

My four years of university were not much different, only this time I was swimming in a sea of Marxist-Communists or people who were so confused that the mere sight of somebody who claimed to believe something sent them into a tizzy. I also kept having interest in girls who were from a higher economic class than me. I could aspire to be their tutor, never their suitor.

Then in the early 80’s I landed in a small town in Indiana to start graduate school. My wife and I arrived in January in the middle of a blizzard that forced us to stay in Miami for 24 hours. When we were finally allowed to fly, after landing in what appeared to be Antarctica, from all we knew, we got off the plane, my wife promptly fell on her back after taking only a couple of steps, and I heard my brand new leather shoes cracking, as I walked on ice for the first time ever in my life. Apparently my tropical shoes had not been made for these extreme northern temperatures. We knew we were in for the trip of a lifetime.

Now for the last 22 years, my family has sojourned through this fascinating land of the free and home of the brave. We feel very much at home here and yet we are fully aware that we are also different in so many ways. Like they say in SE Asia, “same same but not different.”

I should say am different. I mean, I like to wear silver rings. I keep my nails neat (and polished!). I am known to have a few “man-purses.” I used to wear hats a lot (inside and out) until I decided recently that this was not a hill I was willing to die on. I have created some discontent among some who don’t think preaching from an iPad is kosher. I have a weird sense of humor and I eat sandwiches with a fork and knife. I could go on…

So who do I tend to resemble most? Peter or Cornelius? Neither. I am Ivanildo. I am unique. I am rare and the phrase “God is no respecter of person” (Acts 10:34) tends to electrify my bones.

If you ask me, I am beyond exhilarated that the gospel is also for people like me, quirks and all. The details are trivial; what matters is the core, not the superfluous. And here is the conclusion of it all to me: “I am a sinner saved by grace and Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Pastor Ivanildo Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA