What a day. I had a chance to preach to the African congregation today, and I was not quite prepared for all that would happen.
Things went along normally; lots of singing and praying. I had great freedom in preaching, encouraging the people with the knowledge that we are called to be witnesses to the salvation of the Lord.
Then, at the end of the service, Pastor Tite called me and Jessie up. He began what I can only call an encomium; there was more praise than I can claim to deserve. He told the people how they were searching for a place, and that we were the ones to be open to their meeting with us. And how we worked together to make sure that we could all be in the same space without too much friction.
Then Tite's wife Frieda came up with a card and a gift. The card said "the service you have rendered to us will never be forgotten," and "Thank you for welcoming us. May God continue to bless you and your work in serving the Lord, and may your family remain in peace." And then a kicker. He had written a scripture reference, Philippians 3:20-21, a verse that some of you know I love! "Our citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ..." What else can one say when we have service in English, French, Swahili, Kirundi and Spanish!
The gift, what can I say? It is a clock, "something to hang on your wall, and when you see it you will think of us. And it will remind you to tell people we do not know what time Jesus will come back, so they must be prepared." I wonder about what this Gospel has done to us that people from half way around the world know me so well.
Pastor Lumumba came up to pray, and I could not hold back my tears, "Man of God, remember the words of 2 Timothy 4, 'Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season... do the work of an evangelist." And when he had finished praying, he said, "Where you are going, remember to welcome the stranger. Perhaps they will be Russian or Chinese, but welcome them like you did us."
I wish I knew what to say about this day, this amazing time, this moment of Holy Spirit confirmation.