I recently heard someone say that there are thirty-three thousand different denominations of Christianity across the world. Thirty-three thousand.

Coming so soon after a friend informed me that he had been this close to accepting Jesus before a conversation about denominations got in the way, I felt like this blog post was ready to write itself. It was going to be a rant. It was going to be a plea. It was going to be the desperate and naive request of a twenty-something, begging the Church to somehow unify and throw off all the names and titles and nonessential differences that keep people from finding Jesus.

I was going to see how many times I could quote John 17:23 and remind everyone that it is unity within the Church that will persuade the world of the Father’s love. I was even going to quote Tolkien. {I only get four blog posts, and Tolkien better be quoted in one of them.}


Then I got a migraine that happened to pique during our missional community (MC) meeting.

A quick note about our MC: we are all science majors, and while we are all Christians, none of us come from the same campus ministry {except for me and that one girl, but that was sheer accident}. We represent everything from the University United Methodist Church to the Asian-American Campus Ministry to Chi Alpha, pursuing degrees in physics, biochemistry, neuroscience, and more.

But back to the migraine. Not only was there stabbing pain in my head, but I couldn’t hold down any food or water that would allow me to take medicine. I was supposed to go to Physics Bible Study next. Then one of our members, the one I know the least, the one from Asian-American Campus Ministry {which is probably the least likely ministry for me to ever visit, given that I am, um, not Asian} said, “My apartment is near here. You can come sleep.”

On the tip of my tongue were the words, “I’m fine.” But I was not fine, and I accepted, and I walked with her to her apartment, and she held my hand while I threw up again beside the sidewalk. We got to her place, and she gave me blankets and let me crash on her couch for over an hour. Even after I woke up, I was still not well, and she made me tea and brought me Tylenol {easier on empty stomachs, it seems}. When I was eventually able to converse and walk around again, she made soup.

And through it all, I thought, “This is the unity of the Church. This is the love that will persuade the world that the Father loves them.”


Do I still wish and hope and pray for a day when Christians say they are part of “The Church” instead of “that church”? Absolutely.

However, I also know that some of that unity is here. It’s now. It is here on a person-to-person level. It is here when a group of students from various ministries can meet to pray together for one campus. It is here when the Christian members of Physics Bible Study relate the same beautiful testimony {Jesus} even though they come from different backgrounds. And it is here when the girl from the Asian-American Campus Ministry takes migraine-ridden-me to her apartment and makes me soup.

But because I can’t end without quoting Tolkien, I leave you with this: “Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.” And, I would add, in the spirit of John 17:23, that in nothing is the love of the Father more clearly shown than in the love expressed between the people of different denominations, ministries, and backgrounds.

Reveal the love of the Father. Love each other.

melodyvaladez200x200Melody Valadez is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, where she majors in physics and co-leads the College of Natural Sciences Missional Community under the guidance of Campus Renewal Ministries. She is also the author of Those Who Trespass, a novel for young adults that blurs the line between secular and Christian fiction.