It happened again this Sunday. I was crying while we were singing at church. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t homesick, and it wasn’t even because of the words of the song we were singing at the time. I was just overflowing with joy and thankfulness for so many reasons. I rode to church with the Sanchez family and Jowelle. The wonderful family I ride to church with every week and get to serve the youth of God’s Tribe with. I walk into church great my very dear friend and pastor’s wife Trudie, catch up with Charles and his week. Hug Loretta, Omalola, and Angie. I walk into the theatre/sanctuary greet Cole, Toby and Jesha who will be leading in worship this morning. I say hello to Maarten, one of my HOPAC students that is setting up sound and give a hug to another dear friend Abella. She says she is going to be reading a poem in the service this week and asked that I please sit front and center so my smiling face will give her courage. My dear friend, of course! Anything to encourage you. While everyone sets up for the service, I run next door to the coffee shop where the staff greets me by name. I return to church with coffee for myself and a few friends. I think next week I should bring a tray so I can carry more!
The service is now starting. We sing a few songs, the children leave for children’s church then we sing a few others. We sing Twakuabudu (We Worship You), In Christ Alone, and I Believe (the Creed).
Jesha is also one of my HOPAC students and will be on the worship team this week for the first time. My heart swells. His desire to grow in his faith and serve God through his talents shines through in all he does. Not only is he worshiping, he now has the opportunity to be mentored by the relationships he builds through the worship team. I am thankful for Godly men in the church to speak into my student’s lives.
And it hits me. I am overflowing with joy spilling out in the form of tears. Our amazing God brought us all together from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, England, Canada, US (various states), Netherlands, Denmark, South Africa, Nigeria, and many other countries to worship Him together. To worship through song, His word, and fellowship. As we all sing:
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
I stand in awe. I am humbled. I am grateful for not just a church community but a family. Almost all my closest friends in Dar es Salaam are in the room declaring our desire to serve the one and only true God. It has been years since I really felt completely accepted and myself in a church community.
Singing is now done, I pull myself back together in time for Abella to step up and share. She had been asked to talk about her experience being part of a life group (small group). Being that it was the day after valentines, she wrote her experience into a beautiful piece of poetry, giving examples of how she has experienced God’s love through various people in the church. Love welcomed her. Love encouraged her. Love prayed with her. Love makes her laugh. Love gives her hugs. Love makes her feel normal. Love is a sister to her. Oh dear, here come the tears again because I could relate to all of it. Abella is in my life group and my experience has been very much the same.
One of the dangers of ministry is continually pouring out but not getting fed. I am grateful to have had many people ask hard questions since moving to Dar. Questions like, “How are you taking care of yourself?” “Who is your support?” “Are you being spiritually filled?” and for the first time, maybe since high school, I can quickly and honestly answer, “Yes! and this is how and who.” And for that I am thankful for once again God knew what I needed and answered my prayers.