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Dear Friends,

I arrived at a church at 9.30hrs on 4th Oct. 2015 to find that the service was already going strongly, with lots of visitors. Our service finally ended about 14.50hrs. It was really hard to get ‘bored’ at this event. I ask myself why do African services end up so long, but interesting, whereas British ones can be short, and even then seem too long!

It can seem that British Christians believe because they ‘ought’, but African Christians believe because they must! In Africa, life hangs on the blessing one hopes to get from Christ. The above 6 hours (almost) of service are not something done in a calculated way to give a ‘spiritual compliment’ to our secular lives. It is as if everyone’s heart is hanging out of their chests . . . desperate for feeding. Today was a little exceptional, as we had a team of ten or so visitors leading us. Those visitors had been going almost all night, starting again in the morning straight after breakfast.

The issue was ‘repentance’. But there were no ‘short-cuts to save time’ as we might know them in the UK. When 20 people have to repent, discrete means could be used to save time: like have people repent simultaneously instead of one at a time. Not so here. ‘Mechanical worldviews do not interfere with testimonies. (Everything that happens is thanks to God, and never ‘thanks to nature’.) When sin is condemned, no moderation is called for. Instead; lipstick is a tool of the devil, and a woman showing her leg is worthy to feed to dogs! Now there’s some hyperbole, but the point goes home. Tears are not ‘emotionalism’, but demonstrate assumed tectonic shifts in people’s relationships with God. There are few sensitivities about hurting someone’s feelings or rights by ‘picking on them’. The prophetic word may be just what they need.

Our preachers today certainly were not rooted to one spot. Translation adds to the drama – every sentence is a two man drama. There’s really not much time for asking ‘are these all conmen’, as we are too intent on receiving blessing. Life is, after all, not about economics, with ‘church’ to keep us right before God. Rather, life is all about keeping ones heart straight with God. That IS how one will do away with disease and suffering and acquire wealth and prosperity. It’s not secondary to one’s career, needing to be kept time-limited as there’s important other work to do. God is everything one has, and does, and needs; but for those mass of ‘nasties’, spirits you might say in English, of all kinds, that are actually keeping us down, and always seem to be the enemy in focus.

Our preacher commented at one point ‘actually I am a graduate, I have a degree in mathematics’. Having a Western education certainly adds to one’s status, and enables knowledge of English. That doesn’t mean the understanding of God and demons will change.

Just some thoughts anyway, following a long church service last week.


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