Since I kept past weekend as a low key one, mostly hanging around the volunteer house, it made sense to check out a local church on Sunday morning. Having gotten a recommendation from one of the folks running the program here, one of the other volunteers and I headed off to what was supposed to be a 3 hour service (8:30 – 11:30). At the exit of our property, we met up with a local who we had connected with the week before in a walk into town and headed to Calvary Pentecostal Church (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Calvary-Church/245315085564239).

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Due to a bit of slow walking we got there closer to 8:40. And due to a schedule change, that was about 40 minutes after the service had been scheduled to begin. We don’t know when it actually began since things here tend to start a bit later than advertised.

Given this, the singing was already moving full steam ahead, with a choir backing a leader and just about everyone in the congregation on their feet singing along if they knew the words. So we found some spots and joined in, clapping, raising our hands, and even singing when we were able to figure out the words after a few choruses.

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All of this of course was accompanied by a small band.

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Around 9:15, it was time for the preacher to take over and give his first message but as he stared, he wasn’t getting quite the response he wanted, so he turned things back over to the choir for one more song before delivering his message.

After reading the scripture (Luke 9:57-62) which was translated as he read into Nyanja, he spoke about the importance of prayer, tying the message into another change they were making in their service to have a prayer meeting during the 7-8 hour every Sunday before the 8-9 worship portion of the service.

After speaking for quite some time, if I recall right it was about 45 minutes, he transitioned into leading us into a call and response prayer. This was followed by another round of music and then a second message.

During the second message, I don’t recall the scripture on which it was based, he relayed a great story about an older man named Charlie, who as a birthday present was given the gift of his first airplane flight. And how after the flight, when replying to a question of whether or not he had been afraid, Charlie simply stated that he had never out all of his weight on the seat. The preacher used this as an illustration of how people often don’t put all of their trust in God.

As the time reached past 11 during this second message, and it was getting quite warm in the building, he asked if folks were hot, and promised to stop speaking after one more point. After probably another 15 minutes or so, he finally turned things over to announcements.

While most of the announcements were not that applicable to visitors, one that was quite sweet was the recognition of the birthday of the woman who tracks everyone else’s birthdays by calling her forward and presenting her with a cake.

Of course this was followed by more singing before we headed home pretty close to noon, if I recall correctly.

All in all, it was a great experience. However, I do appreciate the shorter services we have at home. That said, a few days after this, we were talking to one of the staff members where we are staying, and he said that his Sunday service is 8 hours long. They have the same singing and preaching, and then they pray for every member of the congregation. Compared to that, 3 seems quite short.

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