Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kenya Journal, 9th day, Sunday Worship Like nothing I'd ever experienced:

Day 9, Exorcism



Today is Sunday and our team split up into groups of 2-3 people to attend different churches in the area. Pastor Ryan and his friend Matt, an artist who sells his creations on South Congress in Austin, were invited to be guest preachers at the host churches. They actually offered for any of us to preach who so desired and I passed on that; so did the rest of the group. Teaching high school age and lower are the limits of my public speaking willingness.

I have often mentioned Jenifer in my posts and there are actually two Kenyan ladies with that name who have been active in our visit. One is the director of the Aids Orphans/street children ministries & the other is a church volunteer, the newly elected county commissioner. This is the one who took me & Trudy ( our church business administrator ) to worship as guests at her "home" church. She lives in town but does not attend at the one nearest in her neighborhood ; we went to the MCK ( Methodist Church of Kenya) in Kenjaibi, a rural area outside of town down a dirt road. This is where she owns a farm that she inherited from her husband who had passed away. She explained that it is difficult for women here to remarry because if they did, the inheritance no longer belongs to them.

We received a warm welcome and were seated on the front row in plastic lawn chairs. The services were in Swahili so Jenifer sat next to me and another lady from the congregation was assigned to Trudy, acting as interpreters. When the building filled with people and the service began it was around 11am. They had Bible readings from Psalms and Romans, recited the Lord's Prayer and the apostles creed - all familiar to me, just spoken in a different language, sang hymns and lots of them. One had a repeated chorus & I was able to join in on that repeated part, "Atwendaga" - means He loves us. Next they invited members to come forward and speak their testimony or perform to praise God. A group of women went first with a song and dance that was similar to our line dancing. Then another group of women performed, then men, then teenage girls, then individuals - this went on for a very, very, very long time; during this time a piano player showed up & plugged in their electric keyboard. Then he joined in on what had previously been acapella songs. His accompaniment was Horrible! He played in a different key from the singers and turned on a rhythm for what sounded maybe like Salsa music? Oh my, that was tough on my senses. One of the performers was a young girl of about 10 who spoke about being in the hospital and seemed quite emotional & she sang a shy solo, without the piano man, thank goodness!

Differing quite greatly from American churches, the offertory was the next event of the service. We all walked forward to put our money in a locked box at the front of the church and some people brought goods from their farms instead of cash and laid it on the floor - a plastic bottle of fresh milk, a jug of cooking oil, ears of corn, bags of bananas and spinach and a chicken. They said a prayer of blessing and then the auction began, people bidding on the farm goods & cash from the winning bids going into the offering box. Jenifer won the bidding for the spinach. I about jumped out of my skin when they picked up the chicken and it started squawking since I thought it was already dead when it was brought forward to donate. This part of church was really fun to watch!

There were 2 traveling evangelists leading the service; one was a woman named Noreen who prayed long, intense, fervent prayers and the other a man ( I don't remember his name) who preached a sermon using the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel and working many years to earn his wives, Leah & Rachel. His main topic was, What distracts us from God. He was very passionate and animated in his presentation and seemed to really connect with his audience as they laughed and amened a lot during his sermon. He often repeated that the love of God overcomes all things.

Nearing the end with more songs and prayers, the speaker called for anyone who wanted special prayers to come forward and one person did. It was the little girl who had performed earlier. He put his hand on her head and prayed with Noreen standing next to her. The little girl fainted and started to fall but Noreen caught her and gently laid her on the concrete floor. Then I witnessed the strangest thing, her body was lying flat but the center of her chest was rising up, not a seizure but something strange! Then Noreen and the preacher started praying and shouting and gesturing from the girl and away from her. I heard, get out, get out! My heart started pounding and my hands started sweating for fear of the devil appearing at any moment! I know this sounds crazy, but I knew they were casting out demons and I did not want any demons anywhere near me! I was praying inside my head to Jesus for protection and I was terrified! About 20 people came up from the congregation and circled around the girl where we could no longer see her and Jenifer standing next me was crying. Finally it ended and they brought the girl over to the side and sat her in a chair. She was looking at us with big round eyes as if nothing had happened? Holy mother, I had never experienced anything like that before but I'm pretty sure I had just watched an exorcism!

We immediately asked Jenifer about what had happened and she responded vaguely that she was really worried about the girl and needed to check into the situation. Ushered into a back room of the church we were served the African meal. It was 4 in the afternoon and we were already a half hour late to leave to visit a family for afternoon tea but we had to eat so as not to offend our hosts. Whew, a 5 hour church service is Not my cup of tea and my heart was still pounding from fear from the exorcism.

When we were finally dropped off at the hotel, Trudy and I were dying to talk about all the strangeness but also dying to go to the bathroom so we ran for the nearest one in the lobby. The bathroom had 2 closeted rooms instead of stalls and when I closed the door to mine I noticed no doorknob & somehow I was locked in, more drama! I couldn't climb through the upper windows because of bars on them but one was partially open for ventilation . I climbed up on the toilet and stuck my hand out the window yelling out for help. My team mates were waiting for us in the lobby and came to shake my hand & take pictures of the predicament. Thankfully, they also got a hotel worker who came with a screwdriver to pry open the locked door.

We enjoyed tea with the family who had an adorable baby daughter, Tessie. And then we had dinner with Bishop Catherine, a bbq arranged in the hotel courtyard with my favorite, a fire pit! The next morning Trudy & I talked through our church experience with our Grapevine group and with Pastor Ryan. I think my blood pressure has now calmed down.

Thanks, Hal, for praying for our spiritual protection! Now, I know I needed it.

One of the scripture verses read from Psalms in the sermon was this: Psalm 121:7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul.

No comments:

Post a Comment