WOW! That word is way too small and does not give the words to what I have experienced today. Our group awoke to a beautiful South African sunny day. As a group we attended Hoppy’s church which was a great service. Lane preached an excellent message. Then, Lane took his message into Amalinda Forest to spend time with Pastor Eric, his wife and the members of Holy Covenant Church which is in the Xhosa squatter camp.
As our van pulled up I was amazed at where these people live. Their daily lives are spent in shacks smaller than your average bedroom in your home today (the whole thing), made of scrap wood and metal sheets (stuff you probably would have thrown away as trash). Some of the roofs were held on by bricks or old tires. Dogs and chickens ran wild in the streets. No pavement for your roads. Holy Covenant is huge compared to some of the homes – about 28 feet by 70 feet, block/stucco with a tin roof. Open windows are the air conditioning. But out of the church came the most beautiful sound. In the front right corner stood a woman playing a large drum with animal hide as its beating surface and playing it proud and strong.
The most incredible sound from an instrument I have ever heard. Accompanying her was voices – each strong and praising as loud as they could – equally as incredible. It was not in English, but Xhosa – but it made no difference. To be honest, tears could not help but well up in some of our eyes as we heard the singing. As we entered, the people smiled and warmly hugged us. We were placed in positions of “honor” in their eyes and escorted to the front row. Pastor Eric opened with greetings for us and to his congregation and then introduced us. The singing must have gone on for at least almost an hour, yet seemed only minutes. No hymnal, overheads or projection equipment. Just one voice would call out the beginning of a song and everyone else would join in. These people with so little materially were so filled with the Holy Spirit and praising the Lord!
As Lane got up to give his message he told the people we had a gift for them – a small wooden cross. I took a hand full to help pass out and went to hand one to each person. I noticed something different though – in the US, if you go to pass something out – people take it out of your hand. These beautiful people would not “take” the cross, but laid their palms out so I could place it in their hands. So humble! Then the people spontaneously started singing “The Old Rugged Cross” – WOW! I will never hear that hymn the same way again.
Lane preached on the meaning of the Cross. God planned it perfectly. Pastor Eric talked afterwards that last week he had preached a message and mentioned how no one ever “preaches on what the Cross really means.” It was powerful and moved many to come forward for prayer, rededication or accepting Christ.
That night, 1/2 our group went to Pastor Hoppy’s church and the other 1/2 to Pastor Eric’s. I must say, I was privileged to go again to Pastor Eric’s church. As we pulled up that night, the children were singing praise songs outside (not for us, they were just singing). Again, a beautiful night. As you in the states were winding up your am service (those on Eastern time), we were ending our evening service. I must say, I will never be the same after seeing these wonderful people worship! In some ways, we look at them and think they have so little, but in other ways they have far more than us, they have figured out what is far more important – praising the Lord with all their heart, soul and might! As they say here, “strong like Africa” and I believe it!
As I write this, it is now 11:25 pm and I must be up at 7 am – so I will write more later. Please continue to pray for us. The winds of the Indian Ocean have been very hard. We are going to try and place the metal roof on by Tuesday – please pray the winds slow down (or stop) before then – they will be like sails if not. Also, pray for our safety on the job site. Finally, and most important, Lane has 3 more messages to preach on Mon, Tues and Wed night – please pray for Lane’s message, the people coming and their salvation. Thank you for reading and I hope you get some blessing from hearing what we are doing in S. Africa.