This was my 3rd Sunday in Mwanza but my first Sunday to preach at one of Bishop Sekelwa’s churches. We went to a church just outside of Mwanza in Myamhongoro. Yep, that’s a mouth full! Even Africans have trouble trying to say that name unless they from there.
We left home at around 9:15 am in order to arrive at the church on time but everyone else was late. This is Africa so you just have to learn to be flexible, really flexible. Church was supposed to start at 10:00 and we finally got started at around 10:30.
I had been struggling for about 3 days with what I was going to preach and as we started, I was still not sure where I was going to start or wind up. Fr. Allen asked what text I would be using and that forced me to make at least one decision. I went with the Gospel for the day which was Matt. 11:25-30 so I now had a starting point.
The Lord is so faithful to bring us to the end of ourselves. I had wanted to have a well prepared sermon to impress Bishop Sekelwa with but instead, here I was with a text that I wasn’t sure what to do with it. So being the spiritual person that I am, I jumped right in with a heartfelt greeting from Bishop Chuck and the church in America. Have you ever tried to make a one hour sermon out of a greeting? It’s not easy!! I gave up but only after I ran out of people to use for greetings. I then decide to stall for time by having the text read again. As Bishop Sekelwa read the Gospel reading in Swahili, I prayed. I mean, I REALLY PRAYED!!!!!
This turned out to maybe be the best sermon that I’ve ever preached! The words really weren’t my words and I have no idea how I started where I did or ended up where I did. This was one of those times when you’re preaching to yourself which causes you to repent and to enter into the place of resting in Christ and just enjoying being with Him in the moment. I was so blessed to just be there! Jesus was wanting to speak to His people.
Of course, I had to confess and repent as the sermon took its course. Repentance was a big part of the sermon; what joy there is in repentance and how it’s through repentance that we enter into His rest, and how it makes His yoke easy, comfortable and pleasant (comfortable and pleasant are in the margin of my bible for the word easy). The Lord showed us that we need to come to Him to learn what the problem is when we are burdened and depressed. The problem is usually us and we just need to refocus by repenting for getting off track and forgetting that we just need to always be resting in Him and letting Him lead the way. The most important and first thing is for us to love Him and to be caught up with love for Him, with hearts on fire with love for Him, then everything becomes so much easier.
As The Lord developed the sermon and I repented of not trusting Him and coming to Him to just love Him, I was being caught up in love for Him as He so faithfully spoke through me to bless His people. The Lord made me look awfully good. I think that Bishop Sekelwa was a little surprised. I know that I was. It seemed that a lot of the people were blessed based their responses but since they speak only a few words of English, it’s hard to tell how much they got out of the message.
We finally ended church at around 1:45 pm and then went to Fr. Allen’s home for lunch where we hurriedly ate because we had to be at a funeral by 3:00 pm.
This is was the biggest funeral that I have been to here in Africa, around 400 to 500 people. The lady that died was a member of Bishop Sekelwa church and the funeral was at her home. After the service at the house, we drove to an area that is used for burials where there was a graveside service. Then it was back to her home where they provide food for everybody.
When we finally left for home, it was after 7:00 pm and there were 12 of us in a Toyota Land Cruiser. After dropping off a bunch of folks, we finally got home around 8:00 pm.
On Monday, Fr. Allen came by our house. He was talking to Bishop Sekelwa about how the support of so many of the church people had impacted the village where the funeral was held. Since the family was a part of the Bishop’s church, there had been a huge turnout of church members to help and to show support for the family. The villagers had never seen such love and support shown by a church.
Fr. Allen also shared that the people at his church were still talking about my sermon and being blessed by it.
Sunday was a long day but a good day.
More pics available on flickr in the album Mwanza Tanzania 2014 (including Fr. Allen’s newest son being blessed.)