Today I was thinking about a few of the differences between church in America and church in Lesotho. One difference is how people get to church. Most people in America come to church by car. No one has a car at the church where we normally attend. People walk to church. Some come down the little road that leads to the clinic. Others, especially from the neighboring village of Ha Teko, take a short cut through the villages, across a small creek (during the rainy season) and then emerge from between the rows of the neighbor's corn field.
Another difference is that we only have a morning service. It starts with a prayer meeting from 10:30 to 11:00. From 11:00 to 1:00 (at least) is the worship service. It is not unusual for the whole congregation to stand for the half hour prayer meeting and then for another half hour of singing at the beginning of the worship service. We still aren't sure whether people just like to stand or if it's because the low backless benches aren't comfortable to sit on! :-)
After church is over there is often time for seekers to ask questions or pray with the help of the pastor and a few elders. Around 1:30 or so the choir practices for forty-five minutes. While the choir practices, someone will have a short Sunday School class outside with the little children and teach them a new memory verse which they will say the following Sunday morning during the worship service.
This morning I was struck by how different the testimony time is in Lesotho when compared with America. It's not unusual for people to give victorious testimonies of how God delivered them from a life of demon possession or how God saved them from the oppression of ancestor worship and superstition. Another common theme is God's faithful providence in providing for financial needs in spite of great poverty.
Of course the people are different, too. Mr. Canon, who is blind and has a mental handicap, showed up an hour and a half before church in his knee-high rubber gum boots. (I think they're the only shoes he owns. You can just see his boots on the left edge of the picture.) He sang loudly and quoted a variety of his favorite scriptures as he felt his way from door to door begging for food. (For some reason he didn't come to our house this morning. Maybe he got enough food on the way?!?) Miss Keneiloe is an assistant nurse at the clinic. Before she came to church she made sure all her TB patients took their medicine at the clinic. We were all happy to see Mrs. Hlalele back in church. She got saved last October out of a hopeless life of witchcraft. For several weeks recently the garment factory where she works forced her to work on Sunday. It was good to see she's still doing well spiritually in spite of this challenge. There was a new lady that visited for the first time, too. She came to Pastor Kali during the week for prayer and promised him she would come on Sunday. I was glad she stayed after the service to seek the Lord.
I was still thinking about some of these differences as I began to preach this morning at Matukeng. I looked up from my sermon notes at the end of the introduction to realize that a young girl who has been attending church for several months but who is still unsaved was beginning to have a satanic seizure. The message ended abruptly as she was carried to the front of the church for prayer. Although the power of Satan seemed to be broken at least in part as we prayed for the girl, it didn't seem like a complete victory was won. Please pray much for us as we daily confront the power of demons with the all-sufficient power of Jesus Christ!