Our hosts picked us up early to take us to church. The wife handed me a scarf and said, “You may not know this, but woman must cover their heads during church. I brought you a scarf.”
I was grateful for her forethought, since I knew we would be sticking out already in the service. I know that I am probably making lots of cultural mistakes each day, but it’s nice to be ahead of the game occasionally.
We entered the large meeting room to the singing of the praise group. Four or five young people were singing, accompanied by a keyboard, guitar and drums. “Be thou glorified in me,” they sang over and over. Their harmony was beautiful and I found myself immediately glad to be in the House of God worshipping with my brothers and sisters.
And that it what we are. Family. There is the unmistakable feeling of belonging when you enter a church. While I may not know when to sit or stand, I could feel the Holy Spirit in that place.
Then the offering took place. You know, it’s the awkward moment when the pastor explains once again that it is our duty to give back to God? Except that didn’t happen here. It was just announced and everyone stood up. The music started and in another language everyone was singing something about rejoicing and praising God.
One by one, everyone, and I mean every person in the room, went to the front of the church. All were singing, some were swaying, others were dancing up to the front. They happily placed their offering envelopes in the bag up front and went back to their seats. There was such joy on their faces!
And then, the pastor let loose. He spontaneously started singing some gospel songs and hymns and got everyone going. Faster and faster they sang the songs! Everyone sang louder and the smiles on their faces were huge! By the time we were done, we were out of breath, clapping and falling into our chairs with laughter! What a service!
The sermon followed and was challenging to me. And then came communion. Communion always humbles me before God. Confession of sin, thankfulness for God sending His Son to die on my behalf and then prayer for our family who doesn’t know Jesus as their Saviour.
It doesn’t matter that I am on a continent nearly 9,000 miles from home. This felt like home today.