Travel Diary 5: More about Reflection than Activity

Dear ITEM Partner,

Sunday was more about reflection than activity. The event of the day was the church service at (ITEM Coordinator) Prince’s church. It is hard and at times unfair for a westerner to give an opinion of a “worship” service.

One of my doctoral classes 25+ years ago was “The Leader as Worshiper.” It was one of the more meaningful and helpful classes I had. The professor, a worship leader with a PhD in church music/worship, defined “all that we are responding to all that God is.” We are “eyes,” “nose,” “feet,” “hands,” “ears,” etc. So, in worship there is a place for kneeling (the body worshiping), singing (the tongue), listening (the ears), seeing (such as stained glass), and smelling (even incense). All can be a part of worship. What we experienced didn’t all seem to be worship. That is only our opinion.

ONE AFRICAN’S WARNING

 Zambian pastor, Conrad Mbewe, whom I’ve quoted more than once, has said, “In Africa, for many, worship has been reduced to singing and dancing to very loud music. There is nothing wrong with singing and dancing, or even very loud music, in and of itself. Worship is a response. If the singing and dancing takes place with the heart focused on the Lord, that’s worship. If the focus is on dancing and singing for the joy of dancing and singing, it’s not worship. There was a lot of that today. God knows the heart.

There was the singing of happy birthday to a few people while they stood. There was a choir. There was a solo. There was talking from the pulpit and recognizing other people in the church.

But then were was a period in the church when four young kids got up and danced. It was choreographed to music. There was no singing. There was just music playing in the background as these four youngsters (maybe 6-10 years old) danced and as they danced, several in the congregation threw money on the floor around the youngsters.

I asked Pastor Prince later what the money was for and he said it was for them, personally. Was that worship? Didn’t look like it but God is the final judge of that.

The service was over an hour old when I was introduced to introduce Henry, who preached from Psalm 93 “The Lord Reigns.” He was told yesterday he should not preach more than 25 minutes. An hour and 15 minutes for “the other stuff” in the service and 25 minutes for instruction from the Word.

Worship: “All that we are responding to all that God is.”

Pray that as I talk with Prince I will be very sensitive to the difference in cultures and not come across as trying to impose a western style into an African church. But as the coordinator of our ministry here, his church needs to strive to be a “model” church when it comes to worshiping our God and King.

Thanks for your prayers in this regard.

HEADING TO KENYA

Henry and I are heading to Kenya Monday night. It’s a 7pm fight out of Monrovia with a one hour stop in Accra, Ghana, then on to Nairobi. We’ll arrive at 6:30am Tuesday.

As of this hour, 10:30pm Sunday, we have not received our covid test results from Friday. They advertise, “test Friday, travel Monday.” I hope their word is good.

Pray that we get the results before leaving for the airport around 2pm.

Thanks!

By His grace, and for His glory,

Steve

Many new pictures in the photo album. CLICK HERE to go there.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/mrwqDWnHrbEqcLSbA

 

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