It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Georgetown, Guyana as we travelled to Church. The pastor of this small church plant and another leader had come to the ship to pick up myself and four others in two cars. As we left the city area the landscape became very rural. Cars shared the dusty dirt roads with pedestrians and horses slowly making their way, and either side of the road were fields and houses. As the car pulled to a halt we looked out the window, all I saw was a house with a two storey wooden house with a white picket fence, but beyond that I could hear the sounds of people singing praise to God.
As I entered through the gate in the fence I found myself in a makeshift church building complete with wooden pulpit and a number of wooden pews and some speakers and microphones and a piano keyboard – all contained within the front veranda of the house behind it. Much care and effort had been spent to dress up the inside of the church to make it a fantastic place of worship.
We were ushered to seats at the front of the church on what appeared to be a stage area – since it was slightly raised and sepearted from the seats and sat behind the pulpit. The service was beginning and a lady was opening the service in prayer, not the kind of prayers you’d find in an aussie church but a prayer of praise and worship – a motivating prayer accompanied by the keyboard playing. At this time there were very few people in the church – in fact there were more on the stage – and I was wondering how we would do our demonstration that required 20 volunteers. But slowly and surely, just like in my home church, people began to arrive as we sung songs of praise to God. God’s spirit was there and the people gave Him praise, and being there I put aside what I considered to be poor musicianship to praise my heavenly Father. If we in Australia struggled musically and technically as much as this church did then we would find our church empty, but these people don’t need good sound or singing in key to praise God.
We were each looked after like royalty and given a large bottle of water each (which came in very handy). When it was time for us to speak we each introduced ourselves with our name, country, work and reason for coming to the ship. Then it was my turn. Anne and I presented a missions presentation. I had only done this presentation once before in Barbados, and I had done the easier part, now I was doing the hard part – facts about Islam, Hinduism, Budhism and China plus an evangelistic and mission challenge. For a moment I froze on stage because I didn’t have any notes – thankfully Anne handed me the notes and as I read and the church was very encouraging I gained confidence and spoke more dynamicly and from the heart. It was a great experience.
After this, Hannah gave her testimony and Campbell preached a sermon on missions.
After church we went to a leader’s house to have lunch. They cooked a wonderful Guyanese meal for us and allowed us to rest and some of us to sleep on the couches. We were very encouraged and recharged by their hospitality. The pastor told us about his work in the interior of Guyana where there are many Amerindian tribes and very simple living.
After lunch we went to a Sunday School party at the church. Hannah did clowning and the girls sung a song ‘My God is so big, so strong and so mighty’, then they called me up. I was going to tell a story called ‘You are special’ by Max Lucado. I sat on a chair facing a semi-circle of kids and began to tell the story. I asked my friend Campbell to be the God character in the story and I invited two kids from the audience to play the parts of other characters. At one point I had one little boy sitting on my knee listening to the story. The kids really liked the story and applauded long at the end. I hope that it taught them to not worry what other people think of them, but just remember that God loves them no matter what.
After the sunday school the pastor took us to a wedding of some Indian friends. They had arranged for us to come and try some Indian food, so we came in were seated and each given a large leaf to use as a bowel. Then we each received a portion of rice and seven unique ingredients like chicken, mango and many things I didn’t recongnise. It was called ‘Seven Curry’ and you eat it with your hands (we were given water to wash our hands). It was a fantastic meal like I’ve never had before. And they sent us off with some sweet cake-like stuff when we left. I dont understand why they were so nice to us when it felt like I gate-crashed a wedding, but that’s just how nice they are. Then afterwards we returned to the church and they gave us some of the ice cream and jelly they gave to the kids. So many blessings! And that’s how it seems to go with Church teams, you go to be a blessing but you are blessed in return.