Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

18 April 2008

Church in Africa

I want to share a good long chunk of my sister Jen's recent blog about "Ward Church" on The Mercy Ship in Liberia.

It paints an amazing picture of something that Krissy and I also found remarkably moving...

(Check out our Africa gear BTW!)

"Sunday morning, at ward church, I started to cry. Ward church is when we get all the patients together in one ward (which, yes, is a huge violation of every infection-control precaution, but, this is Africa!). The patients, nurses, doctors, and other crew have “church”. We squeeze anyone that wants to be there into one tiny ward and pack as many people as possible onto the 10 beds. Like most African church, it consists of a lot of singing. Some preaching. Patients tell testimonies of how their lives have been transformed. Then more singing. That’s when I cry. I can’t really explain why, except that I am a “happy-crier”. Happy movies, triumphant moments, ceremonies of great accomplishment, reflecting on wonderful memories, or anything that stirs up overwhelming feelings of joy are all successful in bringing me to tears. It has happened on more than one occasion here. I can’t exactly pinpoint the common factor that causes me to melt, but, I know that when the ward fills with the radiant sound of joyous, broken people celebrating their source of hope, it is literally “music to my ears”.

I am trying now to think about what makes the music so incredibly unique and wonderful. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Africans have an inherent sense of rhythm and musicality that probably rivals any other group. It is ironic that in the ward of a hospital ship off the coast of Liberia, with simply a set of bongos, one sasa, and about a hundred incredible talented voices comes potentially the most wonderful sound I have experienced in my short life. How much money, time, energy goes into creating albums and songs that will never even begin to compare with what they have going on here? But anyways, the point: some of it is just raw talent.

And then some of it has to do with the passion underlying it all. There is something amazing about a completely uninhibited expression of art. It seems that they have nothing to prove. Nobody to impress. No restraints. With this comes a freedom that I believe I can hear in their music.

Lastly and probably most importantly, I think that their music makes me cry because of the emotions that drive it. When I hear a nation of people who have been brutalized and known unthinkable horrors sing that they "will give God their lifetime” and to “tell Papa God thank you”, my heart breaks. So much emotion wells up within me.

They actually have no reason to be joyous or thankful. I looked at Blessing who will be in the hospital for the next few months as the doctors reconstruct her non-existent face. I looked at Edwin, who actually has no skin on his back and will most likely not make it if his skin-grafts aren't successful. I looked at Georgia who hates people in scrubs because she needed skin grafts after an African hospital experience gone-wrong. I watched all of the patients and families in the room belt out amazing expressions of love and thanksgiving to a God who, by all tangible measures, has not been evident to them. That proves to me that God’s love is bigger than the tangible things. He is not limited to expressing his love in the ways we think he should. If they can give God their lives and tell Him how they love him, then there is no way that his love is not absolutely real.

Their songs are not empty. They are so clearly driven by love. I am so thankful to serve and be loved by a God who can inspire that kind of thing and I hope that I never forget the feeling of being a room where the love is so present you can actually “feel” it."

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