June 14 - A Day of Worship and Wonder
We awakened this Sabbath day to electricity and great expectations. Zobue Motel management placed a bucket of hot water in the hallway so we could take sponge baths. After a breakfast of fried eggs, bread and French fries, we headed out to three different churches to worship, completely unaware of the special blessing we would receive. Donovan Drake, Berry Long, and Tom Widmer were asked to preach in the three different churches. Our experiences were similar: warm welcomes of singing and dancing as we disembarked from the vehicles; leading us into the church with more singing and dancing; women's choirs, men's choirs and children's choirs; liturgy with prayer, creeds and responsive reading (which they memorized); a traditional offering but untraditionally given since they danced up the aisle to give their coins.
The sermons were all translated into Chichewa, the native language. Despite the pauses due to translation and young children squirming, the congregations were all very attentive. Afterward, it was time for them to present us gifts. Their generosity was overwhelming – they indeed gave out of their scarcity. Standing in front, we watched in amazement as person after person, children and adults, brought their gifts forward: potatoes, beans, sugar cane, cabbage, peanuts, eggs – and even live pigeons and chickens! It just didn't stop. Again we say it – their generosity was overwhelming.
This was a special day for everyone. They were extremely thankful for our being there and the work of the Holistic Evangelism Project. And we were most thankful to be a part of their worship, love and generosity.
In Romans 1, Paul speaks of his desire to go to Rome to visit the Christians there and be mutually encouraged. We lived that timeless verse today. They were encouraged by our presence, and we were encouraged to be in their presence.
Afterward a meal was offered. Prepared over charcoal fires, the feast was most plentiful and delicious: chicken, greens, beans and nsima (grits-like dish). The church members waited while we ate, then they ate too, but just the beans and nsima. There was only enough chicken and greens for their special guests.
Upon leaving, we gave each church a few soccer balls and frisbees. As we had experienced before, we were amazed at how balls can create community.
We rendezvoused back at the Zeboue Motel, packed up and crossed the border from Mozambique to Malawi, knowing we were on the final stretch of our trip. Late in the afternoon we pulled into the Mwanza Hotel. We met for devotions and dinner. Everyone was still abuzz about our worship experiences and the incredible gratitude and generosity of our hosts. We spoke of the individual words that described them: joyful, humble, generous, thankful, welcoming, connectional. We shared at how unexpected their generosity and love were and how overwhelmed we were by it.
We went to bed early, feeling so more blessed than we were a blessing to them. Thanks be to God.
Blessings from the Team