On Sunday April 3, Kristin and I took Paul and Patrick (2 guys that were here from Seattle doing a church planting seminar with the ACTION’s Pastors College) to church. First step in the process was to drive to Kanyama, a large compound on the edge of town. My directions were “to drive on the tar road until it turns to dirt. Then keep going straight until on your right you’ll see a Police Post – you’ll know it by all the cars sitting out front. Someone from the church will meet you there.” Sounded easy (and actually it was), but it was not as simple as just driving straight. You also have to drive through hundreds of people on the sides and sometimes middle of the road, then navigate where the tar road turns to dirt through rocks sticking out and pools of stagnant, muddy water, and more people and vehicles stopped on the side of the road. So, when we got to the Police Post, someone from the church greeted us, hopped in our car and gave us directions to the church. From there, the ponds of stagnant water turned to a road-engulfing lake. It’s always an interesting feeling when you keep sinking down in the water a lot farther than you originally thought your vehicle was going to go, in our case about 2 feet. And then all of the sudden being jolted by one of your tires coming suddenly out of the water after driving over a huge rock. After making land fall and a left hand turn onto a different “street” between two buildings and a vehicle that was stuck on the side of the road (I needed to fold in my mirrors to get through), we arrived at the church with the sounds of children greeting us “Muzungu, how are you!?!” But as we settled in the front for worship, I just found myself getting emotional. Here we were, in the middle of a very poor, very dirty area of a Lusaka compound, in a church made of wood beams, canvas material, scraps of tin and a dirt floor. And there were about 50 people praising God (and as the song we were singing said) lifting “His Name higher, higher, higher, higher.”
And then just this past Sunday, Kristin and I gave a LIVE update to my home church in Appleton, WI over video Skype on how we were doing here. As we waited to begin speaking, the connection started and we could hear the last of the remaining worship song, some 8,280 miles away. After we were done with our update, I thought about these two Sundays. Two groups of people worshiping and praising God. One in a church made of dirty canvas and wood in a very poor urban compound in Lusaka, where buildings are cramped together and where dirt, mud, rats and taverns abound. The other group worships in a 21-year old church building surrounded by a neighborhood of middle class houses in Appleton, WI nestled next to Highway 41 north bound lanes heading toward Green Bay.
It all made me think, “What does God see all day on Sunday?” It must be an amazing sight and sound to behold. Millions of people all around the world praising His name in song and through the preaching of His Word. People meeting in house churches, meeting in secret, meeting in fields, parks, businesses, schools, shacks, cathedrals, and modern church “worship centers.” It made me long for the day when “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen’” (Rev. 7:9-12, ESV)