Sunday, September 10, 2006

Messy Church - The Return

Saturday night, we had our second worship service in which we tried to get everybody together who is involved in Bible studies. For the last two weeks, the weather had been frigid, windy and raining on Saturdays, and people hadn't even shown up for their own Bible studies. I had spent the week fretting that nobody would show up, and that things would be an unorganized mess if they did.

We started a Bible study with Lina and Cassia's sister-in-law Eni in the afternoon, then we crossed the dirt road to continue our study with Roberto and Cassia's family, who I then took to the service at Simão and Marta's house. I showed up to find 31 people crammed in and around their living room. Eni's entire family, who I had met just two hours before was there, and about half the people in the room were unbelivers. I was stunned - pleasantly.

We started off listening to a praise song, and then went around and everyone had a chance to introduce themselves. It was funny, because we had three related families there (2 sisters and a brother and their respecitve families), and they all not only said their own name but how they were related to EVERYONE IN THE ROOM (I'm Lina, and this is my husband Lucio, my sister Cassia, my cousin.....) When we got to Chileno, who has three weeks in the faith, he gave his testimony of how he was saved - it was spontaneous and absolutely incredible! Then we got to Eni's husband, who had refused to do a Bible study just two hours before, who looked around the room and said "I'm related to almost everyone here, and I feel right at home!"

Then I asked if anyone would like to share about what God was doing in their lives. Chileno immediatly shared about how his wife had left him and how God was using that in his life. Then Roberto shared about how they had been studying the Bible for three weeks, and that he could already see a change in their family. Iara spoke and talked about how glad she was that her mother was studying the Bible, and that she hoped that we could have meetings like this many more times.

We then listened to another praise song and then Alexandre led a particpitive Bible study/sermon. We then celebrated Lina's birthday with a snack of grilled sausage and mini french bread.

As I took Lina and her children home, they marveled at the positive reactions of their family, and she told me that during the service, that she felt extremely hot, and that as soon as we started to eat, that she then felt very cold. She said "it was as if the fire of the Holy Spirit was really hot during the service and then when it ended, it went away."

It was a messy service - long pauses between people speaking, a disastrous singing attempt by a couple of embarassed teenage girls, kids and noise everywhere, but it was an absolutely marvelous experience. To see people with weeks in the faith giving their testimonies without any prompting, to see a witchdoctor's daughter grateful for God's work in her mother's life, to hear an unbeliever saying he felt at home in a service, to hear another say that God was changing his family - it made all the messiness and all of the sacrifices worthwhile. If this is what messy will be, then it's ok with this church planter!


Guy Muse said...

What a great testimony, Jeff! I loved reading your post. What you share is very much like our meetings here: messy but REAL!

Tim Sweatman said...

It sounds like you all had a beautiful mess Saturday.