What a rich morning!
A few weeks ago, we met a pastor who serves a church here in Jos that is part of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) denomination. He invited us to his church sometime, with lunch following. The only catch was that he was pastor of their Hausa service, which comes after two English services. So, in order to maximize our time there, he said we should come to the 8 a.m. English service, stay for the 10 a.m. Hausa service, and then join him and his wife for lunch—whew! We decided that it could be a good experience, so we took him up on his offer and we were really blessed yesterday morning.
The church was quite large—the sanctuary seats more than 1,000 people—and welcomed us warmly. Between services we went to the pastor’s house (on the same compound) for a glass of water, and as we were returning for the Hausa service, he informed me (Chris) that they will have a time of prayer during the service for our work, as well as for a group from their church that was taking a mission trip to Cameroon. During that time, he would expect us to greet the congregation and say a few words. Note to our readers: Keep in mind that this was the Hausa service…you know, that language in which we took a six-week course and in which we are unable to carry on any sort of conversation after the greetings finish.
The time came and we were called to the front. (Of course, the invitation was in Hausa and it wasn’t until I realized that everyone was looking at me that I was supposed to go up to the platform.) Conveniently, Christie was out in the parking lot feeding Judah, leaving me to go up on stage by myself. Since we had been sitting near the front of the church, it wasn’t until I got on stage and turned around to look at the congregation that I realized how many hundreds of people were actually there (the pastor guessed 1,200). Up to that point I had been rehearsing what words to use, and the Lord brought to mind everything that I had wanted to say—that was a blessing. (Granted, it was only something like four sentences, but still…)
And then they (because at this point there are about six pastors on stage with me, along a representative of the group going to Cameroon) told me to kneel down. Realizing that they were putting me in an awkward position, I hesitated and then eventually kneeled. At that point, Christie appeared out of nowhere—someone had found her and told her “they are looking for you” and brought her up to the front.
So there we were, all three of Those Winklers kneeling on a stage in Jos, Nigeria, being prayed for in Hausa, in front of more than a thousand people. All that capped by a yummy Nigerian lunch with the pastor and his wife, and we had a very rich morning.