One of the challenges I had during my first three months of transition in my placement site is to find that “at home” feeling at church and with a faith community. I ended up church-hopping trying to find my new faith community, and it took me more than that to find a different kind of worship. It felt like in all the churches I’ve been to, I was just there but I was not connected to the spirit of worship.
I’ve been to four or five different churches, and in each of them, I have different experiences and challenges, all of which are new to me. I’ve been in a big church (in terms of building and number of congregants) where there are about eight to 10 people (lay and clergies) sitting on the altar facing the congregation. I’ve attended a church where they congregate in a classroom, where the congregation size is around 20-30 including the children, and where the service uses a local dialect except for the preaching or sermon part, which is also translated to local dialect. I’ve been in a church that appeared to me like a TV show with all the production and camera rolling. I’ve been in a worship service that was four hours long with all the prayers and deliverance sessions included.
After two months of trying, I decided to settle on the church that is near my place and also because they are an English congregation. At first, it felt exhausting to me as they do a lot of things that are new to me, or at least that I have not exposed to before. I am not used to seeing deliverance being practiced every Sunday, intercessory praying where almost everyone is walking around, and clapping while praying and speaking in tongues. The songs and dancing are also very different.
It was after five months of praying that God finally taught me a different kind of worship. A worship that focuses on Him revealing His spirit to me and not the one that focuses on me and my feelings. A worship searching deep in myself, where Jesus is at home and not the one that is distracted by my surroundings. God taught me that it is not the church, their practices, the people, the songs, the language that makes Worship different but myself opening my spiritual dimensions to feel His presence.
After that revelation, I also learned to accept all that is different and immerse myself in it. I just need to allow myself to be exposed and be open to different ways of worship and spiritual practices. Now I am comfortable praying the same solemn way while all others around me are moving and loud. I have also involved myself in the praise team and youth fellowship, and I have sometimes even asked to lead a devotion and be a part of the drama group.
Though I still miss sometimes our traditional or liturgical way of worship service, especially the singing of the hymns and doxologies, I can say that I am now at home in worship.
GMF International, Class of 2016-2018
Council of Churches in Zambia