Today, I am honored to host Duane Scott as a guest author here at Getting Down With Jesus. He and I are both a part of The High Calling network and have traded posts this week at one another’s blogs.
Here’s Duane — son of a missionary, twentysomething Midwesterner, newlywed, storyteller, friend of Jesus.
(Duane, an honor, truly, to have you here…)
A goat peeked from behind the pulpit.
He was just a little guy, standing there with big eyes, watching us while we worshipped.
“Yenom rico Zion,” we sang, “We’re marching to Zion.” Our voices didn’t blend. Some of the church members were two words ahead, others began clapping slightly out of sync, and one elderly man on the front bench sang only monotone, providing a persistent low humming noise. And as far as I could tell, he never took a breath.
Judging by the goat’s wide eyes, he also thought our singing sounded horrific.
I squirmed uncomfortably on my wooden bench. Trying to avert myself from the curious goat, I glanced at my flip-flop clad feet, and traced my toe in the soft dirt floor. “What would my friends back home in the States think of this?”
A lizard took a gander through the open window next to me. For a moment, I was mesmerized by the bob-bob-bobbing of its head, then noticed how the scaly creature was invading my personal space, so I startled it away with my hymnal.
“Yon copo coro fefe nome.” I translated the words in my head while I sang. “That beautiful city of God.”
The song finally ended in a ginormous heap of chaos, as each member tried holding out the last note like the missionary had taught them.
The missionary, my father, then stood to deliver a simple sermon. He chased the goat from the building, tapping the little guy on the rear to steer him toward the outdoors. The goat bounded toward the outdoors, possibly in search of a bridge with a troll under it.
“He just spanked a goat in church.” The laughter escaped my mouth in a whoosh, half-snort, half-guffaw, then followed by an embarrassed chuckle. The natives smiled at me, then turned their attention back to the missionary.
“That city we were just singing about…” the missionary began, dramatically accenting his words so the members could understand, “We all want to go there, right?”
“Amen.” The elderly man on the front bench loudly offered his testimony.
I tuned out the message. Instead, I watched the chickens through the open door. They pecked at the dirt around the fire pit, probably eating bits of yam from the previous evening’s meal. I watched a few children kicking a torn soccer ball back and forth. A lady passed by carrying a bucket of water on her head.
When the message ended, I turned my attention back to what was happening within the concrete walls.
The elderly man, the one whose monotone voice ruined every song, the one whose resounding “amens” interrupted my daydreaming, stood and shuffled to the pulpit.
For a moment, he stood there in silence.
Then the tears pooled in his eyes. They glistened against his dark skin as they trailed down his weathered face. Eventually, he opened his mouth to speak, but no words would come. More tears fell from his chin, landing solemnly on the earth floor. Finally, he held his shaking hand to the crowd, “Bra Yesu nykɛn, I Come to Jesus.”
Today, we sit in padded benches worshipping in magnificent buildings with high cathedrals, wearing our finest clothes. We hide our feelings behind a mask of perfectionism, build walls around our insecurities, sing in perfect harmony, and yet…
I’m worried sometimes we forget to come to Jesus.
Find Duane Scott’s blog here.
Follow him on Twitter.
Keep up to date on his writing at the Scribing the Journey Facebook page.