The dreaded day has arrived. I have been asked to preach.
Last week I was talking to my colleague, Jorge, about the two churches he’s involved in, one in the town where he’s from and one here in Beira. I expressed interest in the one here in town when he mentioned the services are only an hour and a half! Also it’s pastored by a Brazilian missionary who’s a friend of other missionary friends of mine. So Jorge invited me to go with him this weekend. I happily accepted the invitation.
A few days ago he asked me if I’d like to preach this Sunday. I declined. He persisted. I explained that I would like to just visit for my first time and could perhaps preach another time, and besides wasn’t the pastor preaching? (I was quite looking forward to hearing the pastor preach.) He said the pastor was away. I asked who would preach then. He said since I wouldn’t, then he would. I said, “Good. I would prefer to listen to you preach than me preach.”
The service was indeed an hour and a half long. It was a small group since they’re a new church, and they currently meet in a nursery school which was actually a much more pleasant setting than many churches I’ve been in. It was also the first church I’ve been in where I felt entirely comfortable. I wasn’t concerned about following “the rules”. And it wasn’t so loud. Plus, I knew all the songs!
But then at the end of the service the pastor’s wife, who was leading, said, “And next week our sister will preach?” Um, sure? How was I supposed to respond? Afterwards she told me that they thought I was preaching this week but then Jorge had explained that I would just visit the first time and preach the next time. Gee, thanks Jorge.
I do want to comment here on two things unrelated to preaching that struck me once again about church in Beira. The first was that while we were worshipping, we could clearly hear music coming from a church nearby. No matter what church I’m in, I always hear worship from a church nearby. For example, my regular church is directly across the street from my Mozambican family’s church. Like I mentioned in a previous post, churches here are not that big. Most of these churches have less than 30 people in them. So why are there so many in each neighborhood? If we want to minister to a certain neighborhood, shouldn’t we join forces?
The other thing that struck me was how much prayer and visitation is a part of ministry here. (This is a positive point!) After the service, many of us climbed into the back of a truck and drove to a more slum neighborhood to visit a sick woman. We all filed into her small house and stood in the doorway to her room to sing a song and pray for her. Churches in Mozambique certainly aren’t perfect, but I see prayer and visitation as one area of strength.
And now back to preaching. My biggest dilemma is not what to preach on – I already have an idea – but in what language to preach! Portuguese will be a struggle, but finding a translator to go with me will also be tricky. Stay tuned to an update next week.