Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dancing with Your Bible on Your Head

This past Sunday we attended church at "The Fishing Village Church."  This is the affectionate nickname of the church that was born in 1995 with the help of some crew members from the m/v Anastasis making connections with locals who lived in the fishing village just down from the port a few kilometers.  Pastor James was at that time working in the dockyards as an engineer, when God put a heavy call on his life to guide a congregation closer to Him.

Some 17 years later, in a large concrete building with openings for windows but nothing to impede the sea breeze, ornate cement pillars, and several wooden benches, we had the chance to join this humble church body for celebration.

This was their main church building just two years ago,

and here is a photo of the future building under construction in the summer of 2010. 
Thanks, Marty & Catherine for the photos.
Here is the outside of the church how it looks now, in 2012.

Advertised in our activities book onboard the ship as "an English speaking church,"  the Eglise International Missione du Christ was filled with lively intercessory prayer when our troop of five Land Rovers chugged up, spinning donuts through the loose sand that "paved the way" to the building.  Upon arrival we first noticed the canopied area where many small children were decked out in their beautiful hand-tailored church outfits, and their dress shoes (while we were even sporting flip-flops!). 

Inside the main church building, three young girls (probably 9-11 years old) provided the rhythm that echoed throughout the building by drumming on beaded gourds and dancing as if rhythm was the air they breathe. 

After a few songs in Ewe, the local language which most people speak in homes (thought it's not taught in schools), we were witnesses to some, should we say, interesting dances.

First the ladies of the church (who were seated in the rows of pews to the left side of the building) started dancing around in a circle at the front of the sanctuary.  They were waving handkerchiefs, shrugging their shoulders, and doing what we affectionately refer to as the West African chicken dance. 

Next up was the men (who as you might have guessed were seated on the right side of the building) came up to strut their stuff. 

Cuter than all else were the next two groups of Sunday school classes- some of the children as young as two - who were guided up by their teachers and chased like baby ducklings to stay in formation as they grooved around the floor in a circular motion.

After everyone had had their turn, an assortment of people from all over the church came up - some with their plastic lawn chairs on their heads, some purses, some bibles, and danced around with giant smiles on their faces.

Seeing that none of the yovos (white people) were moving out of their seats, the pastor stopped the worship band, and provided an explanation as to what all this craziness was.

He said that the words of the song reflected that of King David, who was not ashamed of dancing before the Lord.  We give him our everything and whatever we offer up to Him is a sweet sacrifice.  So, he beckoned for all the yovos from around the world to bring their Bibles and show their moves.

I wish I had a photo, but alas, I do not... (I am guessing that if a photo did exist, my wish would actually be 100% different!).  But, we made our way to the front- some with pocketbooks, others with Bibles.  My Bible has a fabric cover and I couldn't get it to balance on my head without some assistance, so I held it there and danced with the other arm.

I should probably mention that Dan had made friends with Pastor James on the ship prior to attending the service.  So, when we arrived with our blonde children, Pastor James escorted us right up to the front of the church, where we sat in four plastic lawn chairs, facing the congregation.  It felt a bit like being seated in thrones before our royal court.  The girls, of course, were very nervous being on display like that, and now being asked to dance in front of the church wasn't helping.

But, fortunately, I think the yovos equaled the number of the Beninois and Togolese, so the embarrassment factor was limited.  What's the difference between embarrassment and fun?  Just a mindset, right?  So, we embraced the fun.

After the dancing wrapped up, Marty Schwebel, one of the chaplains onboard shared a message on unity, which was translated from English into Ewe for the non-yovos in the crowd by Pastor James.  As collectively the congregation represented South Africa, Australia, Belgium, Canada, the US, the UK, Germany, Benin, and Togo, it was definitely an appropriate topic.

We will certainly be making a return visit to this great church.

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