Today Laura and I attended a morning worship service at Rehoboth Ethiopian Evangelical Church. There is no way I will do it justice in words on this page but I will do my best to convey what it was we felt and experienced.
First off, I need to say the people that make up that church are really, really cool. They are kind. They are loving. They are humble. They love God. They love Ethiopia. And they loved us today. I am not sure if I have ever felt as welcome at a church anywhere. Ever.
Let me rewind for a second. The morning started like any normal Sunday - up early, feed the dogs, send them outside and get ready to head out to church. But instead of our 20 minute drive to North Metro - today we were heading about 55 minutes away to a church we had been invited to 2 days earlier by our new friends Challa and Masresha. I'd be lying if I said we weren't a little nervous. I mean neither of us are very good at just putting ourselves out there in new situations. But hey - as we said in the last post - God was running this whole thing. So who were we to not follow?
We arrived shortly before worship and they were still wrapping up their Sunday school service and prayer. Oh - and I might mention - the only language we heard coming from a pretty packed room was Amharic! Not a bit of english. Cool - but it didn't help the nerves. While we were waiting outside and debating whether or not to enter the service in progress a young guy with a huge smile came bounding out. It was Challa, husband of Masresha (who had invited us). With an outstretched hand and wonderfully spoken english he immediately removed all of our anxiety. After a quick tour of the church and a rowdy introduction to his beautiful daughter we headed in to the worship service.
Honestly - the graphic up there says it all. Wow. That's what we felt. The service opened up with beautiful singing led by a choir of about 8 and everyone joined in. Unfortunately I don't read or speak Amharic so all I had to offer was a measly clapping of my hands and a Cheshire Cat grin on my face. This was awesome! After the worship and prayer the pastor recognized us as visitors (it wasn't too hard) and asked us for introductions. There were a few other new faces and after all introductions they settled in for the message.
The coolest thing about the whole visit today was that God was so up in that place. And He went out of His way to speak to us yet again (2 very clear times). I know I have shared quite a few examples of how God has been speaking to us in rather loud volumes lately but I can't help it. It's too cool. And the more we try to polish our relationship with God the more we can see Him working almost in real time in our lives (like I felt like I did today).
So here is example 1. As the pastor was praying and they were preparing to give the message I began praying that somehow, some way God would let me hear this message. Let me understand it. How in the world would that be possible? Everything so far had been in a different language. I didn't know how it could be done but I did know that my God is big and He can do anything - so I went ahead and prayed that. When we sat down, the girl beside me got up and left. Challa then slid into her seat and whispered in my ear "I am going to interpret for you." Well, hello there God. That was a quick answer to that prayer. So Challa proceeded to let me know what book we were reading from in the Bible and he took meticulous notes and constantly whispered in my ear (which I then whispered in Laura's ear). Not only did I feel like I got the entire message, Challa was so good at what he was doing that I even got all the jokes and was able to laugh along with everyone else in the congregation.
Pretty cool, eh? I thought so. And example 2 comes right after that. Anyone who knows me knows that I have been living by Matthew 6:25 for a while now. It says:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes?"It's a great verse and it has given me the peace I have needed time and time again throughout the past 2 years. So imagine my surprise when Challa said we were reading from Matthew chapter 6 verses 24-34. What? Okay God - I am hearing you! There are no coincidences, right? I know I don't think there are.
So here was God answering prayers and providing reassurance to me all within a matter of seconds. I love that He works like that. After the service was over we headed to a fellowship room where they served freshly baked bread and tea and coffee. We met so many people, shared our son's photo with everyone and were just made to feel so loved and so welcome. The pastor spoke to us at length and said if we need anything at all to contact him. We also met Fanuel - a very nice gentleman who was here visiting but who actually lives in Ethiopia and works for Ethiopian Air Lines. We exchanged contact information with him and will be getting in touch later on as we prepare to head over to bring home our little man.
I don't know if I did this justice at all with what I have written. I am still a little overwhelmed myself from how cool the experience was. I can tell you this though; God's Word is God's Word no matter what language it's coming at ya in. Sometimes we overstudy it and get hung up on things like textual variations in manuscript copies - and when that happens I think we all ought to ruffle our own feathers and head out to hear a service in a language you have never even heard spoken before.
After shaking all of the hands of so many people who were thanking us (what??? no, Thank YOU!) we headed out in to the rain to leave. When we got back in the car Laura looked at me and said:
"That was incredible..."Yep Laura. It was.