They are a little Pentecostal, but not the “swinging from the rafter” types, as another person so nicely put it. Worship is led mostly by Africans and Koreans, with a few Westerners and others thrown in. Worship is loud and fun. There is clapping, dancing, shouting…anything goes really. So much joy and thankfulness. Probably 200 or so attend every Friday; as Friday is the holy day in these parts. It isn’t a church for the local people here really, though that is of course fine. It is more for the ex-pat community here to equip and refuel for the work here. Oh man, I love it.
If you look around there are literally people from all over. Africans galore–S.Sudan, Kenya, Eritrea, Libera, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana…also Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, European, Australian, American…literally all over. I have sat next to people from a different country every week. In attendance are businessmen, NGO workers, UN people, language students, teachers, people from all kinds of professions and jobs. It is so neat. There are different colors, clothes, and tongues all around. Part of the beauty is all the freedom to praise and pray however. It is like a small taste of heaven with every tribe, tongue, and nation worshipping God.
The pastor is East African (Ugandan I think?), but the pulpit is quite often shared. In the few weeks I have been attending I have heard messages from the pastor, an American, a Norwegian, a Ugandan, and a man from Ghana. With every other color and person sharing, leading, praying, and taking offering in between.
After worship (which is done mostly in English with some Swahili and Arabic in there too) and before the message there is a time of communal prayer. Last week it was for wisdom for the leaders of our nations. I held hands with a Kenyan lady and an Eritrean girl and prayed for their nations.
This week we prayed for persecution. Specifically for four of our brothers in the church. One man who has worked here with his family for a number of years has been taken in for questioning for hours and hours everyday this week by security. Another believer in the church has been taken by security and no one has heard from him. One man has been told by fundamentalists that if he does not renounce his faith he will be removed. Someone else has been told by his family that they will cut him off from them if he does not renounce his faith. It gave me goosebumps. I am in the sort of place I have been reading about for so long. We spent some time in prayer as a body. It is so powerful to sit in a room that fills with the voices of people from all over the world crying out to God. I couldn’t help but tremble a bit.
It seems as though things are heating up and cracking down here. Who knows what is to come.