Sunday, October 09, 2011


Dudley and Inge are missionaries in Swaziland. Jim and I were able to stay with them last year and look forward to visiting them again during our next trip. They are a couple that mid-way through life, made a complete change of life path and left America behind for a life in Africa. I love hearing their stories and this one, in their latest newsletter, particularly stood out to me. I thought it was fitting to share it on a Sunday.

"As I was sitting in church this morning I was thinking about you, [our friends back home]. Actually, I think about you quite often. I think about you every time I have a Swazi experience that a camera can never fully capture and words can never adequately express.

Anyway, there I was in this little church at Lamgabhi, which is near Bhunya, which isn’t near anything. It took us a while to find the church. We had to ask several people along the way for directions, but no one seemed to know. Then a teenage girl strolled by and heard us asking about the church and she chimed in to say that was her church and she would show us where it is. So she jumped into the car and pointed out every turn along a deeply rutted and severely eroded trail.

We found the church meeting in the back half of a repair shop. The church rents this space every Sunday. They carry in backless wooden benches, a handmade pulpit, and a wooden table. Like almost every other small church in Swaziland, they are trying to construct their own building nearby. But money for such projects is scarce as most of the church members live in deep poverty.

This building is better than most we visit. It is made of cement blocks and has a good roof. Still, it is quite rustic even by Swazi standards. It’s about 15 feet by 25 feet and, during the week, a preschool meets there. I don’t know how many preschoolers attend on weekdays, but today it was packed with an equal number of children and adults. As I was saying, when the service started I began to think about you. Here is what I was thinking:

I wish my friends in America could be here to experience this. I wish they could hear these people sing. And see them move to the music as they give praise to God. I wish my friends in America could hear how loudly these people sing. They are singing so loud it seems to be just one notch below yelling. They are truly expending energy in worshiping God. Some occasionally let loose with a shrill whistle while others shout! Songs go on and on and on, but no one seems to grow tired of standing and moving and singing. There are no hymn books or lyrics projected on a screen. These songs (hundreds of them) are in the hearts of the people. If my friends could be here, I wonder if this might change the way they sing to God in their churches back home.

I wish my friends could see this building. It is not much, but it provides a place for the church to meet and sing and proclaim God’s word. They seem to not even notice the cold, stained cement walls and rough, crumbling cement floor. I wish my friends could look into the eyes of this congregation as I preach. They are hanging on every word—not because of who is delivering the message, but because it is the Word of God. Every-one stays put. No one wanders in and out. The children are listening too. They hardly even fidget. They learn at an early age how to behave in church.

You would have to see it to believe it.

And I love how church is the priority on Sunday. Every Sunday. And not just Sunday morning, but all day. Sure, there is no NFL in Swaziland, but there is plenty of football (soccer). And few Swazis have the money necessary to make their weekends the entertainment highlight of the week, as it is in America. But church is without doubt what Sunday is all about in Swaziland.

That is some of what I was thinking when I thought about you this morning. How blessed I am to be able to live this life—to experience these things! And to think, for so many years, I was missing out. I was unwilling to conform my will to God’s will. He had all this waiting for me, but I was clinging to the comforts of the life I knew. I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit finally was able to break through and set me on the path of obedience.

And now here I am—in Swaziland of all places. I am far from the comforts of home and family. Sure I miss some things, but the center of God’s will is where I want to be.

And I couldn't agree more! Amen, Dudley. Amen.


*The church members in this photo are from a different church that Inge and Donald work with, but they are the same type of church. For whatever reason, I couldn't get the photos that went with their newsletter to copy.

No comments: