As I lay in bed listening to the sound of rain pounding the ground here in Africa, I cannot help but think that God is crying … shedding tears of love on His people here in Africa.
The other day at church we were listening to the testimony of a very animated young lady. With her face beaming and her speech peppered with countless “praise god”’s, we assumed she was sharing good news. When we heard the translator tell her story, we were shocked. The take she was recounting with such joy was of how her husband and community had rejected her when she became a Christian and forced her to leave when she defied some traditional customs. She now lives in abject poverty in Nairobi, but still emphatically thanks God for his work in her life, for His gifts and for the church community.
I only know a few words in Swahili, but what I do know allows me to understand most prayers I hear while here in East Africa. They are an almost ceaseless stream of “Asante Baba” (Thank you Father) and “Bwena Safiwe” (Praise God). When I look at my own prayers they seem so much less frequent and full of requests to God rather than thanks or praise. How can I ask for more when i have so much, yet people in Africa cannot seem to stop thanking God for whatever it is they do have? This is in no way intended as a criticism, but unbelief is truly a luxury that only comes an over-abundance of personal possessions. When each day is a gift, each relationship a treasure, each handshake an opportunity to connect and each moment a struggle, this “archaic, outdated, uneducated” notion of a belief in God is truly the only thing worth having.
This last church service was a women’s service and I quite enjoyed getting the opportunity to hear the message delivered by a woman (which is taboo in my home church). She was not a minister, but spoke from her own personal experience. In fact, the entire congregation was involved throughout the service. As I tried to remember why this was supposed to be so “wrong” I had to smile and say my own little “Asante Baba”. Thanks God, for letting me experience this, for reminding me that Christ was all about living each day, each moment for God and sharing that with others… not about rules or regulations, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate. May I never forget how much you have blessed me and may I always be able to take a bit of Africa with me wherever I go.
Speaking of belief, here is a picture of the mosque donated from Libyan President, Col. Muammar Gaddafi to the Muslims of Uganda. We had the opportunity to tour through it this past Sunday after our church service. My mother had to dress up in a longer skirt (hers did not cover her ankles) and a head shroud that reached all the way to her wrists. Considering Uganda is over 80% Christian, this mosque was massive, expensive and overall very impressive. It is also used as a conference centre, teaching facility and library.
The above picture is of a “Church of Uganda” building, one of the oldest churches in Kampala. We stopped in for a quick English praise and worship concert. The original building was from 1903, but bunt down soon thereafter. It was rebuilt in 1910 now seats just over 3,000 people.