There are record cold temperatures in Northern Wisconsin, where Vivian is taking a care of our home and animals.
I am very grateful that our oldest son Jesse is only about 3 miles down the road, and Levi is also not too far away.
Nevertheless, right now my heart is there as my constant prayer is that Vivian will be well.
This past Sunday was the only worship service that I have been involved with on this trip, but with the Bible Conference that Pastor Joel had arranged the first time that I came more than a year ago, I already knew what the services generally are like and what to expect.
The first thing that I would say about the services is that they are greatly joyful. There is much celebration. Choirs sing. There are three of them: The children’s choir, the women’s choir, and the church choir. Each of them have at least one or two songs to give to the Lord and church.
Even their entrance is an additional song. When the pastor asks them to come and sing, they do not immediately make their way through the crowd to the front, but rather go out the back. Once organized in back of the church, they begin singing
what I will say is their “entrance song,” and with their bodies keeping time with the music as they slowly walk/dance forward, they arrange themselves when they arrive at the front. It is then that the true special songs are sung.
There is also much more special music. These are the individuals or small groups who have prepared something to sing. It is sometimes in English, sometimes in Swahili, and sometimes in Ekkegusi. The pastor has to limit these, as there always seems to be more than there is time.
But there is also always time for those who have “the gift of dance,” as they call it. These are those who have a certain inclination for expressive dancing and who always have a number to present before the Lord and the church.
There is a time for testimonies. The people themselves do not seem to me to be the type that, in their nature, always want to be in the spotlight, but they are very happy to come and tell what the Lord is doing in their lives. They like to share the miracles that had happened in their lives. In fact, there is a special time set apart for the sharing of miracles. It is when I shared with them the miraculous healing of my cancer last year.
There are two sermons. First by one of the two assistant pastors, and then by the pastor himself. This last sermon seems to be the “main sermon.”
Then there are several other elements that are scattered throughout the time, a time which, as you might suspect, is quite long. How long? I was not there for the beginning, but the service began at 8:30, and by the time it was all over, it was getting on to 2:00 in the afternoon.
Thus, the first thing that many Americans may say about the services is that they are long. But frankly, they do not seem long. There is so much happening and they are so joyful, that time seems to have little significance. That is why I chose to use the word joyful as a single word introduction instead of long.
I did not arrive until about 10:00, so I was only there for half of it or a little more. I was to be the speaker for the “main service,” and was greatly privileged to be so.
I was introduced by Pastor Vincent who applied the reading of 2 John 1:12 to my arrival: “I have many things to write you, but I would prefer not to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to come and speak with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”
He said that every Sunday they read the things that I have written on this same blog page (or perhaps in the books that I left them last time), but now I have come to speak face to face with them.
“We are greatly privileged,” he said. “Dad has come to speak with us face to face!”
Well, I already mentioned that I was the one who was greatly privileged. I had also already prepared to read a short scripture as a greeting.
Mine was from Philippians 1: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In every prayer for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart.”
The scripture that I read also were not just “nice words.” I meant them.
|Looks like that one boy is not listening to me|
Someone get that kid's name!
There was one group of people who arrived even after I, a group of people from an area named Nkumbene. They walked to church from there, which is at a distance of (are you ready for this?) 64 kilometers away!
No, I could not believe it at first either, and it is still a little difficult for me to accept, but I have asked many people and it is true that the area is that far away, and I have no reason to doubt the word of these brothers, especially since the reason that they came to the service was that the pastors from the church first went to visit them. It is one of the areas where they want to begin another church, “The Log Church of Nkumbene.”
They began walking that morning at 6:00, and it took them 4 ½ hours to arrive. I worked it out, and it averages out to be about a little more than 14 kph, or 8.8 mph. This is a Sunday morning walk to church for these people!
No wonder the Kenyans always seem to win the New York Marathon!
With them they brought a gift for me. It was another thing
that I could not believe. Why would they do this?
They brought with them a work sculpted out of soapstone. It is so beautiful! It is one of those works that you need to touch and handle to gain full appreciation for it.
An African Dove.
I was then, and still am, overwhelmed by this gift of extreme generosity.