Thursday, June 13, 2013
The church at Maforga is made up of missionaries and orphans. Several workers and local residents come as well, but it’s predominantly orphans. As such, it is more like children’s church thank anything else.
We typically start at 10 am to allow everyone time to come. Brightly colored children who just hours before were hauling water from the nearby pump, are now clean and pressed and ready to sing.
And oh do they sing!
The first hour or two is spent doing just that. Forget about singing just one or two songs! No. Here they clap and dance and sway to their tiny heart’s desire. And often anyone is allowed to pick the next song.
Once one praise song is over, another happy, warbling soprano from the back of the room pipes up. I often turn to see who this tiny voice belongs to, only to discover a pint sized orphan in braids.
She sings the first line of the song in a strained high-pitched melody, then the rest of the room booms in a raucous echo. A new song has begun.
Mostly they sing in Portuguese, but sometimes they belt out praise in Shona (or Chitewe... I’m not sure yet). Every now and again, they’ll switch to English.
And when they do... familiar songs rattle about my ears with surprising freshness. It’s startling to find the song reinterpreted with African rhythms. I like it.
After the singing comes the testimonies and prayer. This is when anyone with a burden on their heart stands before the church to share what God has done for them this week... or informs the church about important prayers.
One week little Carolina (a girl of about 7 or 8) stood before us saying, “I was very sick last week with malaria. We almost had to send me to Zimbabwe. But you prayed and I am now well. Thank you Jesus!” Then she sang a song of praise in a haunting voice that stirred our hearts and silenced the room.
After the testimonies the tithe is taken by placing a grass woven basket in the front of the room. Those who have a heart to give, do so with joy.
Last week, instead of money one of the local women offered a large sac of ground millet as her offering. It was so heavy she hefted it up slowly to bring it forward, then propped it next to the basket as we sang.
Once the offering has been taken, someone preaches. So far it has been one of three different men --all of whom speak fluent Portuguese. Nevertheless, there is always an English translator for visitors like me.
We are typically finished by around 1 pm. We say our goodbyes, then head off in our various directions for lunch.
After one service, there was such a joyous Spirit that no one wanted to go home. Many stayed to dance and sing some more. I caught a little of it on video. Enjoy!
(Note: video to come shortly if I can get youtube to work.)