Our team has experienced a true African Sabbath Day today. We spent two joyful hours at the UCZ Jerusalem Church this morning from 9:00 to 11:00. The church was quite full and there were a great number of young people in the congregation, which was heartening to see. As always, worship was characterized by several different choirs offering praise to God through music. The African drums, the amazing harmonies, the joyful songs of praise accompanied by dancing lift your spirits into attitudes of joyful praise.
I was the assigned preacher and preached from Second Corinthians 4:1, 5-18. It is an experience that for me is unique to Africa that when you are called forward to preach the choirs sing and dance you into the pulpit. The Holy Spirit was certainly in that place! It is fun to preach with simultaneous translation into Lozi, the local tribal language. The sermon focused on our own feelings of weakness and inadequacy because we are like the clay jars–fragile and imperfect. But like clay jars we can still be useful when we allow the power of God to flow through us as vessels of the love of Jesus Christ in our needy world. We are weak but our God is powerful! Our team was warmly received and greeted after worship by every member in the congregation. The main church choir takes up the end of the receiving line and they sing all the way out of the church and into the community. The joyful faith of the people of Mwandi, who face such overwhelming challenges, is very humbling. I wish the American church, with all its material prosperity, could learn this joy.
After a quick lunch and brief rest, nine of us split into two groups and traveled to two of the village “sections”–the UCZ church has divided the village into five sections. Today, we visited sections 3 and 4 for bible study in homes. Our bible study leader was a woman who focused on 3 John verses 1-8, which speaks of visiting missionaries. She spoke so warmly and graciously of the encouragement the people of Mwandi receive from visitors to the mission. She spoke of the mutual love that binds us together as brothers and sisters in Christ, even across many miles. We sang together, prayed together and shared fellowship. They took up an offering as they had at church this morning and at the close of our meeting, they were headed out to use their offering to benefit the most vulnerable in their section. They all have such limited resources and the sacrificial love they exhibit daily is remarkable.
We have truly felt God’s presence with us on this Sabbath. We pray all those at home will know Sabbath this day as well!