Today, I went to church. I mean, I went to church!
It was a steep rocky climb to reach the small cement building. We entered a small room, packed with people. We were led through the crowd to the opposite wall where there were a few empty chairs next to a window. People had already begun to worship and as we joined in, I noticed a little face peeking through the window into the church.
I smiled. He left and came back with another boy. I smiled. They both left and returned with 6 more children. They didn't want anything. They didn't speak, they just kept smiling at us.
After several minutes, someone went to the window and tried to make them go away.
I was angry.
I said so.
We continued to worship and as it came to a close, the leader called on the people to clap for JESUS. Displeased with the response he said, "I did not say to clap for man. I said to clap for JESUS. When we clap for man, our heads are down. But when we clap for the LORD JESUS, we get up and we look up to HIM who is at the right hand of the FATHER!" Everyone stood, looked up and clapped in a way that certainly resounded to heaven.
My heart welled up when soon after they began to sing "LORD you are more precious than silver. LORD, you are more costly than gold. LORD, you are more beautiful than diamonds." I've always loved that song, but as I sang it with these precious Africans, it held new meaning. Many in the population here originally came as refugees from Sierra Leone, where diamonds hold great significance.
When it was time for the offering, the bowl was placed in front and the people, row by row, danced by and laid their gift in the bowl. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of GOD's people, I wished that I could put in every cent we own and still, I felt it is just not enough. I wanted to put my life in that bowl and the lives of my children. The BEAUTIFUL GOD of these beautiful people, my GOD, HE is worthy!
After the service, we met the Pastor, Elijah. He held our hands and blessed us. Then he asked if we had listened to the sermon and would do what the Word had instructed:to work with joy.
He continued, "GOD wants to encourage you. Discouragement is bad. It's like a seed in your heart that will take over. You must have courage. When Moses died and Joshua stood before the Jordan, GOD spoke to him 'Be strong and courageous'. GOD had promised to give him the land. It was sure, but Joshua had to have courage and go take what GOD was giving"
Unbelievable. (If you aren't amazed right now...go back and read my first post!)
With these words and much more, Elijah spoke to us with great earnest. He spoke to us as though we were the only two people in the room: Be strong and courageous.
As we went to leave, a little girl of about 10 took my hand, leaned close and whispered her best English in my ear, "I want to be your friend".
Oh, how I want that too.