Sunday, June 26, 2016

Warrior Worship

Today we set out for worship with people from the KIA Parish. KIA is made up of 15 separate sub-parishes (individual churches) scattered throughout a remote region of maze and sunflower fields.

After turning off the main road we bounced our way through narrow trails leading through hundreds of acres of bright sunflowers. Peter became less and less confident of which way to turn next when suddenly a piki piki (motorcycle) met us at a fork in the road. Two Maasai guys on the dirt bike waved for us to follow them. It turned out they were sent by Pastor.

It took awhile longer before we reached the simple brick church hidden back in the sunflower fields. We were greeted by the pastor but there were very few others around. The pastor assured us they would all show up as soon as their cows were milked, goats accounted for and families fed.

Before long, brightly clad Maasai people began to emerge from the fields. Each person made sure to shake our hands and welcome us to their church. The church started to fill and just before the beginning of the service the pastor asked me if I would preach. I found the scripture text on my phone, John 6:22-27 and in we went to begin the service.
The Maasai choir was wonderful. It was fun to preach with my old friend and mountain climbing partner, Saltieli Munisi doing the translating for me. The congregation was very engaged and responsive. By the end of the service you could feel that the initial tension of being with strangers had been completely transformed. We were now brothers and sisters in Christ, and friends.

John bought yet another chicken at the offering auction outside. Everyone was interacting and enjoying each other when Munisi began to yell at us like a crazy man to follow him.

We went around to the other side of the church on the edge of the fields and there it was. In the distance rising above the clouds was the glacier capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free standing mountain in the world!

The entire lower half of the mountain was hidden by clouds but for one extended moment. my group witnessed the mountain that defines this entire region. In this area, Mt. Kilimanjaro sets the context. We are either on its slopes or in its shadow.

And now we had seen it. Which is a well know invitation, “karibu tena” welcome again. To see the mountain is to be invited to return to Tanzania.

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