Local Church Visit: Part 1
We have been here for 5 months and been to church 3 times.
A family who has practically lived at church and joked about forwarding mail, there must be a reason why this Bruce clan has only stepped foot in a church 3 times.
The first church adventure was in early December, just mere weeks after our arrival. The church meets in a building under construction. The space on the bottom floor is rented for church use while the owners finish construction elsewhere. It definitely resembles a construction site so when we pulled up, I had to look twice to make sure we were at the right place.
Inside was pleasant and well attended. The double sliding side doors were kept open for air flow along with the plethora of fans littering the ceiling and floor space to keep people cool.
The music was energetic and the signing harmonious. Recognizing a few songs, I was able to hum or sing along, depending on whether I recalled the words or not!
The translator (whom we know) was amazing! What a relief to be able to understand the sermon.
Side note: This was not because we were there. There were other African’s present from English speaking countries. We were the only non Africans present (as I recall).
He kept up with the pastor’s sermon in words and energy; I was fascinated watching the exchange. I found myself agreeing with the pastor- sometimes. I thoughts to myself, “great point,” “I needed to hear that today,” and just a general “yes, preach it” sort of head bob.
Then again, there were times I thought, “Whaaaaat?”
Service was lovely and the people were friendly, to this point. As the service came to a close the pastor asked people to come forward if they were ready to receive Jesus and two ladies, sitting two rows ahead of us, went forward.
Great! I wondered if this happened every week. I feel this is an area we could improve in as a Church.
Then it all went wrong, very wrong.
After some French exchange, the two ladies were suddenly drug to the back of the church, right past us.
A space where a person steps into, with a restroom door to their left and right, is located there. The congregation began getting up, signaling to us service was over. I grabbed the girls and stepped quickly outside. Thanks to the open slider doors, which I say with partial sarcasm and curiosity, we were all able to see what was unfolding- including my girls. This will make for interesting discussions later, I thought to myself, and I was right.
Several men blocked the opening that led to the restroom area, corralling these two women in this small space with no where to run. I know because they tried to escape only to be grabbed and dragged back in. It was a commotion for sure.
I seemed to be the only person fazed by the activity in the back. This, I found, disturbing also.
My husband was talking with people we knew and I was trying to focus on the conversations but was mentally raptured with the ladies’ captive behind me. Finally, the translator we were speaking with said he wanted to introduce us to the pastor.
Personally, I just wanted to leave.
He stepped just inside the building and hopped right back out saying matter-of-fact like, “The pastor is still exorcising demons right now” as if he had said something normal like, “It’s sunny outside.”
I was done. My mind raced in a million different directions why we needed to get away.
So this leads to our discussion:
What would you have done and why? In “Local Church Visits: Part 2” I will address what I have to say and my recommendations to you.
I would love to hear what you think because it is a worthwhile discussion to have with the amount of denominations and religions existing today. How does one determine whether any church or behavior is Christian?
This is a question we should all ask ourselves to be prepared to know how to respond when these moments or conversational exchanges occur.
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,