The Gathering Place
Director of Development Matt Brock recently visited Africa with International Director Bob Sartoris. This was Matt’s first trip to Africa. He visited Nairobi, Eldoret, and Pokot, Kenya and Mbale, Uganda. Matt will share his trip reflections in a four-part blog series. The first blog was Getting Where We Need to Go. Watch for the next articles coming soon (Food for the Soul, and Dressed for Success).
Matt Brock, GNPI Director of Development
I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful for the place I call my church home. Yes, I’m thankful for the people, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m grateful for the physical location where I meet with other believers in Jesus. The Church isn’t a building, but it’s certainly a wonderful provision of God to have attractive, climate-controlled spaces to use for His Glory.
We probably know it’s not like that everywhere in the world. How often do we think about what it would mean for our walk with the Lord if we didn’t have such luxury in which to worship Him? Would our worship be the same? Would it mean more or less to us?
Recently in Africa I had the opportunity to experience two different worship services. The first was in an urban environment and the second in a rural setting. The experiences were each unique, but also similar to what I experience on a regular basis at home.
The first Sunday we traveled through the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, to a section of town that to you and me would look nothing like a place we’d want to worship. The buildings were dilapidated; the streets were dirt, and there was a fence around the facility. We think of church as a place where all are welcome, but it’s eye-opening to understand that in between service times the facility had to be protected from those who would invade or do it harm.
The building was big and beautiful on the outside, but it was unfinished on the inside. In fact, part of the morning’s service was devoted to outlining plans to raise funds for unfinished items in the construction process. While we wouldn’t be allowed in a comparable facility until it was finished in the U.S., they had been actively using the building to minister to each other and those who Christ will call for some time.
The second building in which I worshiped, a week later in Pokot, Kenya, was much less sophisticated. Rocks were secured together with mud to make a structure that held up a tin roof. It was an open-air facility; there were no panes of glass in the windows and no doors to close. It was a simple gathering place.
Specific things happened in each facility, and hopefully these things happen in the place you gather with others to worship. Jesus was lifted up as the Messiah, our only way to God. Hearts were opened, and burdens were released. Songs of joy and hope were offered as sweet devotion to the Author and Sustainer of life.
Things were very different, even between these two Kenyan churches, but they were very similar too. The environments and worship styles each had distinctive traits, but they were doing the same things my family would do eight hours later, almost 9,000 miles away.
These buildings didn’t make me despise the fact that we have nice facilities with air conditioning and ample parking lots. If anything, they made me thankful that God placed me where He did, when He did. I’m not sure it’s my place to say we shouldn’t have them while others do not. What I am saying is, no matter where we’re able to meet as believers, the same things should happen and are happening all around the world.
Jesus is lifted up. Our hearts are opened and burdens released. Songs of joy and hope are offered as sweet devotion to the Author and Sustainer of life.
In gathering places all around the world, you’ll find these things happening. It’s one of the sweetest things I know.