Preaching in Swahili

A week and a half ago, RVA had a three-day weekend. So, we found ourselves with a rare weekday off. We decided to go zip-lining. Ally and Luke were able to go when they were here, so we thought we would take the boys. We called "Pastor Peter" who is one of the local drivers to come and drive us to the zip-lining place. He picked us up, promptly gave each of us a hug. He has a bubbly personality and laughs all of the time. We liked him immediately.

There is not much information online about this zip-lining place, but we thought on a weekday, we would be able to go and it shouldn't be too busy. Pastor Peter drove us the thirty minutes there. We arrived to an empty parking lot. I was right, not too many people would be there on this day! We went in and buy our tickets. Of course, the place was closed on Mondays. I felt like the Griswolds at Wally World. Arrgh! At least we didn't park in the back of the parking lot so we could be the first to get out when they closed.

We decided to head in to Nairobi to do some shopping. First, we stopped at a mall to shop a bit and eat some Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch. It was delicious and sort of like back home. But, there was a sign they were out of chips (fries), and they did not have any mashed potatoes and gravy, or macaroni and cheese, or any other sides. So, we just ate a bucket of chicken without the sides. Then, we went to a place we had heard about, the TOI (pronounced "toy") market. Many street vendors were hawking their wares. We had a wonderful time shopping that day and picked up a few items of clothing.

On the way home, we learned that the moniker, Pastor Peter, was not just a nickname. Our friend Peter was indeed a pastor at a church near Naivasha. He is not paid by the church, so he drives to make a living. We talked about his church and our church back home. He learned that I was an elder in my church and invited me to preach sometime. I told him I would be glad to do it any time. I told him that his English was much better than my Swahili, so I would need to preach in English. I only speak about six words in Swahili now. No problem, he could translate. He asked me, "How about this Sunday?" I gladly accepted, even though I had less than a week to prepare. He was so excited. He said we would be the first mzungu (white people) to ever be in their church. He would tell his church members and they would be so excited to hear a zungu (white person) preach. They might even get extra visitors to see the curiosity.

So, this past Sunday, Pastor Peter picked us up at RVA and we drove the 30 minutes to his church near Naivasha.

We arrived about an hour before the church service began. One young man was sitting in a circle with four children leading Sunday School. A few more soon joined them.

They are renting a small, cement-block room for their church. It has a beautiful view.

A kindergarten classroom is attached to its side.

Carson noticed they were missing the "P" on their alphabet. Then, there was some bad joke about kids not peeing. Such is life with the Wallaces.

At 10:45 a.m., we entered the small, one-room cement wall building that they are renting for their church. Pastor Peter and I sat at the front.

Amy and the boys sat in the "crowd." There were about 20 when we started, and there were about 30 of us when I began to preach. They were showing up on African time.

They began with worship and sang in Swahili. The only accompaniment was a drum they would beat and a metal ring that a child would hit with a metal stick. Carson said we've been in mega churches before with drums and the worship was loud, but it was nothing like this. Amy said she could feel the reverberations as she left the building a couple of hours later.

We just clapped along as they enjoyed worshiping the Lord. They sang some worship songs, then one group after another would come in front of the church and sing a couple of songs. First, the kids, then the teens, then the women, then, if you can believe it, any visitors, then the elders. I don't think this is a tradition that will catch on back home. I don't think our church members really want to hear our elders get up and sing a song together. :)

After about an hour and half of music, it was time for me to preach. I was preaching a sermon I had preached before at Calvary Baptist from Luke 5 about Jesus healing the leper. Pastor Peter translated. It went really well, but I soon realized I needed to simplify my message and cut a lot out. It is tough to preach with a translator! If you'd like to hear a few minutes of me preaching and the Swahili translation, you can watch here.

I just realized I had a crooked tie. They must have thought, "Who is this zungu with the crooked tie?"

After the service, we were invited to the home of an elder of the church for lunch. Nearly the entire church joined us. We had stew on rice, chipatis (flat fried bread), and ended with some chai (hot tea, milk, sugar). We sat around and sang a few more worship songs, and we spoke blessings on each other. They said to be sure to tell my brothers and sisters at Calvary Baptist Church they love them and will pray for them. We talked about how wonderful it is that we will all get to worship in the same language in heaven some day. These were good, kind people who love the Lord. You can watch some of the worship here.

It was a full, tiring, but completely wonderful day with God's people. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to share His word and to get a better understanding of how his people all across the globe really are closely connected.

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