I can hear the singing and pulsing drumbeats as the van pulls up next to the small tin building at the end of a long and winding dirt road. The grass crunches beneath my dusty shoes as I jump down, raising a hand to my eyes to block out some of the glare of the sun. Beyond the innocent looking building, the hills roll toward the city, dotted with acacia trees and swaying yellow grass. In the distance, tall buildings rise out of the foliage – a large city in the middle of nowhere, it feels like. But my attention is quickly drawn to the open windows of the tin church. Through them, I can see women dancing and jumping, their voicing mingling in one loud chorus as their arms reached for the ceiling. Following the rest of the team around to the front entrance, I step across the concrete threshold right into the middle of a dance party. The women sway and jump, their feet beating hard against the dusty floor as they clap in time to the drum. We walk right down the middle like a line dance, joining in as much as possible without their gift for rhythm.
The song winds down after a few minutes of exuberant clapping and dancing and then the pastor stands up, adjusting his old brown suit jacket, and turns to us with a bright smile as they ladies line up along the walls and take seats on the bare floor. The pastor welcomes us to his church – the small tin building on the hillside at the end of the winding dirt road. The women echo his greeting – teeth white in dark and weathered faces. The dust cycles through the room, catching on the sunlight pouring in from the windows, making me cough.
I can feel God moving, wrapping His arms around them. His pride is warm, like the sunlight, and I can feel His deep love for his children, these souls who love Him so much, who begin their introductions by praising God and proudly annoucning they are born again. Standing in their midst, clutching my video camera and nervously picking at my skirt, I feel awed and humbled.
That church was just one of several we visited during our three days driving around an area north of Nairobi called Nyaharuru. Each pastor welcomed us with open arms, and each one amazed me with his love and devotion to God. We interviewed four of them in total about their schooling at a Divine Providence Training Center – a school for pastors supported by our church in the States – and how that experience has helped shape their lives and congregations. All of them were naturals, once they got over their initial apprehension of wearing a microphone and appearing on camera, and spoke glowing of their congregations and the school. The challenges they were facing were many, but their faith was strong. It poured from every word.
There was Steven, who led a church of thirty or so in a small village, a few yards off a main road, James, a young pastor with a brilliant smile whose church sat in the middle of the town market, Simon, who reminds me of Morgan Freeman and runs a children’s home and self-sustaining farm, Joseph, who proudly presented us with his battered Bible that began at chapter fifteen of Genesis, Timothy, who lives with his wife and seven children in a small tin home and gave a powerful testimony about how God delivered him from a life of crime, and Samuel, who pastors the church I described earlier and asked us to pray for chairs for his congregation of 60.
I loved meeting them all and their wives and friends. It has been an incredible experience so far. We’re now back in Nairobi, gearing up for the True Identity Retreat tomorrow! I’m excited to see what God will do over the course of the next three days. Please keep us in your prayers.
And please pray for these pastors, and the women who have no chairs when they go to church on Sunday, but still dance for Jesus with all their hearts.