When I saw this picture, I thought, “Oh, I love my church!” Which is funny because I never felt entirely comfortable there, nor did I always understand what was going on. Looking back, as with so many things in Mozambique, I would have done church differently. Like I would have gone to Sunday school, even just to practice more Portuguese. I also would have made a point of getting to know the pastor. I knew his wife because she worked at Oasis, but I never had a conversation with her husband. Yet he is one of the reasons why I liked the church so much. Many Mozambican pastors are power-hungry and readily feed into the hierarchy of African culture. I have met pastors who ignore women and many who completely ignore children and youth. They are stern and yell from the pulpit, often with no point because they have such weak biblical and theological knowledge. This pastor smiled almost perpetually, spoke gently, encouraged women and youth leadership, and delighted in children. In fact, on Sundays that he wasn’t preaching, he would sit in the back with his youngest children and their friends sitting in his lap and beside him. He also knew the Word better than many pastors I heard and preached it more intelligently and succinctly.
I also say I love my church because many of my colleagues attended, so I knew a lot of people. Plus, the music was usually good. And always lively! I miss dancing in church. (Or rather clapping and moving a bit in my row since I never actually got up the nerve to join the other women dancing and jumping down the aisle and in the front!)