I’m a bit behind on posting and for that my friends, I am sorry. But I’ll start where I’m at with our current adventure and hopefully fill in some background as I tell the stories.
We’ve just left London after a few days of zero degrees centigrade, a little snow, wonderful conversations with friends and a trip to zero longitude and after having flown over Spain, Morocco and a large portion of the Sahara (wow), we’ve landed smack in the middle of West Africa to partake in what is known as The Gambia. If you asked if this trip was for pleasure, the answer is absolutely, “yes,” because it pleases me to go just about anywhere regardless of the reason. The reason for this particular trip is to learn from seasoned missionary friends, the Browns, learn from the African people and to plain see what God will do when you show up.
After an 5.5 hour flight direct from Gatwick in London…can I interrupt here? Just a little tidbit of info for all our fellow fliers: Generally have out what you think you may need once you sit down so you don’t have to get up and down the entire flight; if you do need to get up, don’t grab the back of the seat in front of you for leverage, use the arm rest; if you have chips, don’t crumple the bag over and over again simply because you like keeping your hands, or your knees, or your head or whatever moving; also, don’t tap your cup or hands/nails on the tray, the person who is sitting in the seat in which that tray is attached can feel your every move, especially while napping.
Okay… back to the story, thank you for listening to my wee bit of advice: After an 5.5 hour flight direct from Gatwick in London we were picked up today by a lovely Indian couple and their daughter at the small airport in Banjul and driven to our little hotel room at the Paradise Suites. Complete with two twin beds pushed together, one towel, a punctured faucet, a shower (miracle), air conditioning (miracle) and internet (standard). Its not perfect, but I know without doubt we could be staying in far worse dives. The best part is that we can hear the ocean from the hotel. I can’t wait to take a walk and see what the world looks like on the shores of West Africa.
The Indian couple are hosting our schedule whilst we are near the city in Kotu, 15km south of Banjul. They just happen to be familiar to us through some old conferences we were a part of for a number of years. I remembered the wife particularly, because she shared on the last day of the 2007 conference that she continues to try to leave The Gambia, but God won’t allow her to give up. Now we are standing face to face and she is beginning to feel like an old friend. They currently are involved with YWAM Gambia.
Our first adventure took us on to the dusty roads lined with people in shops and food stalls, as well as wandering aimlessly. There appears to be zero town, city, hamlet, etc. planning as we westerners would call it. Literally, the streets are just lined with whatever people feel like putting up and sometimes you will see a larger building and maybe it has a business in it or maybe its empty, but all is completely at random. Sorry I don’t have a better description. Its just odd. Though the land is flat without much vegetation, the attire is very colorful, as is all the fruit and vegis in those food stalls, making the chaos great for visual stimulation.
Our end point was a Pentecostal church that boasted a robust healing and deliverance ministry. Of course, we didn’t know any of this in advance. We knew to be ready by six o’clock. We were ready by the set time and as forewarned, we waited. The birds are wild here… I need to do some research. After about a half hour we were picked up by a driver and whisked away to a church in a large warehouse of sorts and was filled with what had to be 400-500 people going crazy in worship of Jesus Christ. When I say crazy, I mean dancing like mad and singing with a measure of joy on their faces not to be rivaled. I am officially amazed by how African churches make the conventional western church look like pansies when it comes to expressing affection toward their Creator and King.
Our friends who we are traveling with were asked to share a bit with this hungry crowd and as he spoke on peace as a weapon, you could sense it was the message God had for the evening. Peace that surpasses all our understanding. Its such a beautiful, simple, non-person oriented concept. True peace can only come from God, true rest can only come out of peace with Him. Heck, we’re in Africa because we could feel His peace upon us and in that place of rest and believing. He provided every penny and beyond for us to be here and we had opportunity to share with this large group of brothers and sisters how God provided for us to be with them. We get to be with them…amazing.
I will never forget that moment, staring in to a sea of beautiful black faces and thanking them for the joy that they carry; the example of what it looks like to delight oneself in the Lord. Beautiful is a word that with overuse has decreased in power, but that is what they were: truly, purely, simply beautiful. I could just sit and watch and take it all in for hours. They are contagious. Its no wonder people love this huge continent.
We were swept briskly away in to the pastor’s office after the congregation prayed for all of us, but before the service finished completely. I believe the haste in getting us out of the main room was a result of the church leadership believing that he frequently spoke on TBN. Interesting – that has not happened ever. Despite he and his wife’s best efforts, most were not convinced that he was not some sort of Christian celebrity. Oh well. As Mr. Brown put it, God had to show up, because the expectation of him was too great. Good job God.
We enjoyed some local roasted peanuts, roasted chicken and chips with some sort of malty beer like soda with the leadership of the church and somewhere in there, I used a toilet that was 3 inches off the ground.
I like this place. Good night.