I pulled an all-nighter on Friday night. No, Oasis is not working me that hard. It was an all-nighter at church.
Oasis, along with several churches in town, just completed a week of 24/7 prayer. People signed up for hour-long prayer times to cover every 24-hour period of seven days. Our focus of prayer was HIV/AIDS in Beira and Mozambique. Part of the week was a vigil on Friday from 10pm until 4am. I definitely wasn’t excited about spending that time in church. Two or three hour long services are painful enough on a Sunday morning. The thought of six hours when I could have been in bed was definitely less than enticing. But it ended up being one of the most joyful experiences I’ve had here.
It never felt like six hours, and there were only moments when it felt like the middle of the night. We prayed in groups and individually, we participated in group discussions and listened to a couple talks, we watched a short film and put together skits, and we sang and danced and sang and danced some more! There were about 80 young people there, a few older pastors, and one five-month-old baby who somehow slept through all the noise.
I understood about half of what was going on but still felt very much a part of the community and still got excited about the focus and the energy and enthusiasm the young people have for living counter-cultural lives, praying for the AIDS situation in their communities, and finding ways to practically love those around them. A couple days ago I was speaking with one of my colleagues, who I wrote about in a previous post (People in Churches are Dying), about AIDS and what the churches here are doing. He said they are getting better about talking about it but still are not doing anything practical in their communities. He said, “In the Church we say we live by the grace of Jesus Christ, but we don’t accept people as they are.” I pray that these young people will begin to actually live the grace of Jesus Christ and spur on their churches to do the same.
At 4:45 on Saturday morning I found myself unsurprised that I was eating a breadroll filled with a thick slice of bright pink bologna and drinking a Sprite for breakfast. It made me happy to stand around chatting, watching the sky lighten outside, and realize that no one wanted to rush home. Eventually people started trickling out. My housemate had borrowed a car and was one of the organizers, so we made equipment and pop bottle drop-offs, drove some people home, and finally made it back to our place a little before 7:00. Rain was cooling the morning off and made for excellent, sound sleep for the next several hours.