About three days into my African expedition, before our trek to South Africa, my teammate and I experienced life in a traditional African village in Botswana.
We learned to adapt to what I would consider a slow, laborious lifestyle. The nationals we resided with for the weekend laughed at our efforts to pluck a chicken, take a bath in a bucket and speak the native language.
The most eye opening experience for me in those few days occurred on Sunday morning when we attended the village church. We followed the lead of our hostess, who faithfully walked half a mile to church every week in well-worn, red high heels. The church building was filled with about 20 women and 30 children. Aside from the pastor, no native men attended the service, which apparently is the norm in African village churches.
A woman sitting in the middle of the congregation led the crowd in song. The only instrument used was a tambourine by a young girl on the front row. Even though I didn’t know the language, an overwhelming sense of joy flooded my heart as I listened to the nationals sing praises to God.
Anyone who knows me personally knows it takes a lot for me to cry, but hearing the voices echo simultaneously off the concrete walls brought tears to my eyes. I felt God’s presence without having to know the lyrics.
This feeling, I thought, is why we share the gospel. This is why people set aside their comfortable livelihoods and settle among indigenous people groups in foreign nations. God doesn’t speak one language. He is perfectly capable of revealing his presence to any group of people. It is our calling to share the truth of his word with all peoples.
As this insight came to mind during the village church service, I became even more grateful for the people serving in the field as a career. I’m not certain whether I personally have that calling, but I do know I will be a lifetime supporter through prayer and monetary donations.
I’ll never forget the beautiful sound of praises echoing off the concrete walls of that simple church building. It’s an incredible honor to serve a God whose presence can be just as evident in a poverty stricken African people group as in a Texas Baptist congregation.
Our God is not limited.
Leah Allen, a former communications intern at the Baptist Standard and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, is serving as a semester missionary in Africa with Go Now Missions.