Monday, November 26, 2007

Raising a Standard.

I preached today to about five churches meeting together to raise a standard. That was the theme that I was supposed to preach about. I forgot my camera so I am going to have to use words (way less than a thousand, I hope) to paint a picture of this experience. I met Pastor Sakala and Pastor Mwale in Chaisa and we drove from there to the church where I would preach. We went left and then right and up and down and over and out… It was bumpy and crowded and narrow and full of “starers” and yellers. I am used to being gawked at, at least most of the time, but this time we went deep into the heart of Mandev. I remember one time looking left and right up and down the street and thinking to myself that I have no idea where I am or how to get out. And when you get this deep into the heart of a compound, there are not many cars and the people act like they have never seen either a car or a white person. I parked the car behind these walls and got out of my car to 12 people in cap and gown. Pastor Sakala leaned over to me and told me that I was going to be the one to pass out the certificates. I am like, “Certificates?” He whispered, “Yes, you will hand them to them.” “Oh, O.K.” I said, and away we walked past this tavern with drunk guys looking and staring and music blaring. We passed over and around this drain ditch and next to an empty market to get to this church. Shepherd Bible Church. I walked into this brick church to the sound of the theme of Star Wars. It wasn’t being played for me, though I did feel a bit like I was ready to bust out my light saber. I got paraded to the side front and sat on a couch. Yes, a real couch. Everyone else had to sit in plastic lawn chairs but I got to sit on a couch. There was a snack being offered, slices of white bread and I think water or juice. During this waiting time, I listened to some guys play around on the keyboard with different drum beats. There were around 80-100 people at this church, with probably 80% females. After some worship done by a lady who looked like a young Oprah Winfrey, I was invited to speak. I spoke on Romans 12:1-2. The problem with speaking in Africa is that I don’t really know how to be funny. I have a few really good jokes at the beginning that I use about my kids and getting to know Zambia, but after I warm the crowd, I do not know how to be funny. It isn’t like I am used to being funny, or that I am really that funny or that being funny is spiritual or necessary, but it takes knowing the culture and the words to be amusing. The church seemed mildly interested in my talk though I am learning that in Africa, even if they do not look like they are listening that they are. I guess this is true, though I am pretty sure the two times when a bunch of people came in and out and the entire church looked over for a long time that I was probably just preaching to myself. I am learning so much each time I speak, and it is a great experience. I am learning that I need to adjust lessons when I speak to pastors and when I speak to churches. I am learning how much scripture to use and what illustrations to use. Anyway, the message ended and I sat down, to be invited back up to hand the certificates to the graduates of this bible school they have in this particular church. I was encouraged to hear that and though Zambian church led Bible schools are rare, it gives me hope that we can establish some churches that will be able to run a Bible school for the churches and students in the community. We walked back out to the main road with 12 graduates in cap and gown and a tall, skinny, white guy. I never knew such staring existed. We walked over to a gate where my car was behind but their were about 8 men sitting on a bench in front of the gate. They were asked to move and they didn’t want to. I thought their was going to be a showdown and I was going to have to bust out my martial art moves, but thankfully, the men did move. I was in a bunch of pictures, shook a bunch of hands and we were ready to leave. I guess it just comes with the territory. I at least know how to smile and shake hands. I don’t need a translator for that. I just wish that I had someone from the states to go with me and experience this together. You just wouldn’t believe it. I got home and I thought to myself, “Did that just happen?”

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