Yesterday we were invited to Sunday service by one of our contacts in Pader. Chris O'Conner, a grizzly bearded art psychotherapist hailing from Manchester has acted as somewhat of guide for us. Over a gristly chicken dinner he spoke about the town's strong Christian faith. The church here has a devoted following among its 'born again' community. Christ seems to have served as solace and has aided in the new beginning most here have strived for. On a rainy Sunday morning we trekked up the mulchy path toward the small church hall. It was a young girl's communion, so when we arrived it was to the bemusement mostly of a packed hall of women and their young children who would crawl around our feet throughout. Chris - a godless man himself - had warned us beforehand that they would ask us to stand and declare ourselves infront of the hall and be asked two questions; what is your name and are you born again. To which we would inrtroduce ourselves and if we were born again we would recieve a round of applause, if not - like Chris had done on a previous visit - we would be laughed at and have to endure a preachers effort to 'save' you before you left the service.
The service itself was in English with one of the older students was leading the prayer - her little sister beside her would translate to Luo. We were all quite apprehensive - Heidi a Finnish Lutheran and thus a heretic, myself being braught up a Buddhist and by default a heathen and Phil of course an atheist until proven otherwise - we had discussed how our responses would be taken by a community that which we were here to build a relatonship with. We were asked to stand, give our names and our testament. We did so and were indeed laughed at, but with genuine amusement rather than any judgement. We laughed too and sat down. The entirety of the next few hours were taken up by a prolonged effort to save our souls. We were given a Bible and were asked to read the following verse:
1 CORINTHIANS 2
For the message about Christ's oath on the cross is nonsense to those who are being los, but for us who are being saved it is God's power. The scripture says; "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the set aside the understanding of the scholars.
The message was loud and clear. In between the good intentioned preaching however, the girls choir stood and went into rapturous song and dance. Tall and elegant, these girls felt their faith vehemently and their songs shook our seats with their passion. Some were in English, most were in Luo and all of this made us think whoever it was that was up there that all this was in praise of - they were getting one awesome concert. Each song was instantly followed by prayer all spoken aloud so that he rythmic chants of the songs would evolve into a throng of fevered murmur. It was as if they were using music to induce them into a state conductive to God.
Here is an Audio sample of the songs. It starts off pretty loud but notice how half way through the chorus dissolves into a cacophony of prayers: