(Eighth of a series)
I had the opportunity to attend two churches in Makeni. The first one was an indigenous church established 10 years ago by four young men without help from missionaries. The pastor, who was involved in our project, invited me to attend there on my first Sunday in Makeni. My two American colleagues attended the church of our dialogue director.
I went to this church after my stint at the radio station. It had a very humble structure that the members themselves were gradually building. At least they owned the property located between a residential area and a field.
I arrived towards the end of Sunday School and was ushered to the front where there were two chairs on the left side facing the altar. I was asked to sit on one. The other chair was for the pastor for when he was not speaking.
I felt very undeserving of such special place. I don't deserve nor want this honour. I'd rather sit at the back. Feeling very humbled, I obliged. That was how they wanted it and I was learning to just go with the flow.
More people started coming for the main service, which was called divine service. There was a lot of singing and clapping and swaying and even dancing. It was so alive.
When they prayed, they prayed altogether. I assumed they prayed in Krio, Themne and Limba dialects. This is amazing, I thought. All I could understand was occasional English words adapted into Krio and "Papa" for God. We have the same Papa.
I was reminded of what the Bible says in Revelation 14: "...he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people." This is why we do what we do.
The pastor asked me to speak about myself and our project which he translated into their language. After that, he delivered the sermon in Krio. Because it had many English words, I was able to understand what he was preaching about, Binding the Strong Man.
At the end, they gave me a special welcome song and dance. What a warm welcome.
Me with a local congregation after the church service
The second church I attended, this time with my colleagues, was a larger church that met at a temporary structure while they were raising funds and constructing their permanent one nearby. When we arrived, at least five Sunday School classes for different age groups were being held in different sections of the church. Everyone was repeatedly reciting and memorizing a verse.
Walking to a Baptist church
The adult class was memorizing Matthew 5:12, which I also memorized just by hearing them say it over and over. I don't know how it's spelled but I can say it in Krio. I don't even know the English version. Repetition really works.
A bible portion in Krio. Guess which part? (photo from worldscriptures.org)
Like the first church I attended, this one was so alive. The singing was loud and animated, complete with a choir, keyboard and drums. Young and old sang and danced. You will not fall asleep here. I thought this humble church would put to shame many dead ones in the West.
"Papa! Papa God..." People called out during the congregational prayer.
(Next, A shack experience)