Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Church Under a Tree

Years before we came to Africa I imagined what church would be like here. I imagined believers meeting under a tree or in a small hut or a reed structure.

When we lived in South Africa we attended church services in small concrete buildings, school rooms, homes or even in huge, fancy church buildings with a steeple and an educational building. But never under a tree. Until we came to Mozambique. And I've discovered it's my favorite place to go to "church".

In many African countries it is a status symbol for a church to have a building, especially if you have a sound system, a keyboard, benches, and a pulpit. And I realize that it is practical to have a building. You can't meet in the pouring rain under a tree. And when it's cold it helps to have something to block the wind. So I guess buildings are a necessity. But I have found in our short time in this country that the sweetest fellowship and purest worship has been under the tree. This group of folks are friendly and welcoming, very different to the city churches.

We met Sunday under the shade of a mango tree with about 30 believers. The men sat on stools in the back of the crowd, the ladies and children on mats in the front. (Most of the time the ladies sit flat on their bottom with their legs stretched out straight in front of them. I don't know how they do that.) This Sunday I sat on a fold out camp chair provided by our missionary colleagues and Charlie and Will sat on stools with the men in the back. Abby and Luke sat with the kids. (Coleson was at another church with friends.)

This is a small congregation that our colleagues work with several times a month and we were just visiting for the second time. It's located about 45 min. outside our city. It's in the same general area as the church we attended at the orphanage a couple of months ago.

This is the "choral" or choir performing. Every group in the church had to perform a song during the worship service -the choir, the adults, the children and the youth. The reed structure in the back is the beginnings of their church building. They haven't put a roof on it yet so they still meet under the shade of the tree. (The two blond heads in the foreground are children of our colleagues.)

Worshipping under the tree.
Our colleague, Steve, leading the congregation in the Lord's Supper. The man to the right is translating Steve's Portuguese into Shangaan, the local dialect.

Abby playing with a friend.
Luke (in red) and Jared Jackson are learning how to make windmills out of a reed, a thorn and a leaf. They were thrilled when the wind kicked up and their windmills spun.

After church Will, Luke, and Abby joined in a game of dodge ball. The ball was a plastic bag with something heavy inside, then tied in a knot.


mer said...

Hi Angie...

You have no idea how much this post blessed my heart! I have such a longing to visit Africa someday and worship under a tree! Thanks for sharing this.


Kecia said...

That is beautiful...ditto what Meredith said. Maybe a multi-state/denomination mission trip? "Mission blogger mommies"
"Blogger Mommy Missions" something like that--