Thursday, September 3, 2009
(I’ll apologize for this in advance, but this entry will be long)…
Thursdays have been my favorite day of the week thus far on both of my trips to Nicaragua, because it means that it’s church night. And although you know it’s going to be a long day with a full clinic, rush home to eat and shower, only to rush back to the clinic/church for a few more hours, you also know that you’re going to experience something amazing. I think anytime we’re able to experience a different church, denomination, or even a different worship style as your own, you’re in for an eye opening experience. What makes it so fascinating for me while we’re here is that I know that although I can’t understand the language (most of the time), songs, etc…I do understand that the God they are worshiping in this foreign way is the same God I worship. It doesn’t matter where you live, there is only one Lord and He speaks all of our languages fluently.
I won’t overload you with details, but do want to share some of my favorite moments and learning opportunities from the service. First I’ve learned that hospitality abounds in these churches. Both years when we’ve arrived, we are escorted to our saved seats directly in front. Although we are there to serve them and their community, it is not that way during the service. I’ve also learned that something happens in my heart when I hear praise songs in another language. My mind can’t get caught up on the words, or the meaning of the song, but instead I get to sit back and really feel it. I’ve learned that standing room only, which I’ve seen in church at Christmas and Easter, is not the same in Nicaragua. Street room only is more like it. People literally stand outside of windows, doors, etc… When we stood on the stage to sing for them, I couldn’t believe that people were 4 rows deep outside of the church. In the dirt. Still singing.
And the most humbling thing I’ve learned is that church and faith are a contact sport here. It isn’t abnormal for kids to run down the aisle; however it’s not annoying there because there really aren’t church “rules”. And when they praise, they praise! I mean, dance moves and everything. How fun! And let me tell you, when they pray they really pray. The Pastor doesn’t lead the prayer and everyone listens. No, he’ll start the prayer and then the whole room is full of 75+ voices praying their prayer along with everyone else. It’s literally voices in every direction and you cannot help but feel engulfed.
And last but not least, when they ask for the church to pray over those who need prayer, that’s where the full contact part comes in. The whole church gathers around those in need and prays with everything they have. I have never heard a more powerful cry to God as I did tonight. I have no idea what the woman I was touching needed, but she was desperate. She didn’t just cry out to Him, she wailed. As I stood there, holding on to her arm, shaking and drenched in sweat and sobbing myself because I don’t think I’ve ever heard cries like that in my whole life, all I could do was pray that the Lord would lift her burden. It seemed too much for one person to bear. “Give it to us, please Lord, give some of her burden to us”, I prayed. I knew in my heart He’d be the one to lift if from her, but it still hurt to hear her cries.
As we left the church and got back on the bus completely drained, I thought to myself “this is how it should be. Leave everything you have at His feet. I want my faith to be a contact sport.”