For a while I will have to blog day-by-day about Danja, Niger. So far my time here has been so rich and full that I think you might enjoy some details!
Sunday (Day 4): the blind and the broken (Hausa church)
There’s something incredibly rich about worshiping with believers in other cultures--each time I do, I see a picture of heaven where every tongue and tribe is represented.
Church today was in Hausa, the local language. June pointed me to the Bible verses that the pastor was speaking about, but other than that I had time to simply read, pray, and absorb what was going on.
Worship is more reserved and more laid back here in Niger than the churches I experienced in Benin. Each age group took a turn singing for the rest of the congregation, starting with the children, moving up to the adolescents, then the women, and then the men. But there was none of the booty-shaking, shoulder-pumping, exuberant dancing so prevalent in Benin and Togo. Instead, each group of singers stepped gently from right to left in time with the song.
"Reserved" does not by any stretch mean "boring" or "plain". I wish I could somehow portray to you the resonance of the drums the women played while they sang. As I leaned against the wall behind me I could feel every beat percussing through my heart and pulsing down my veins. One woman in particular had a beautifully haunting voice and I imagined the windswept desert underneath dark, starry skies while she sang.
One of the ladies here for VVF surgery sat in front of us, and I gained a firsthand knowledge of some of the shame they experience. Just a subtle hint of urine at first, but as the service progressed the smell became more and more noticeable. She strove to keep a little distance between herself and the people sitting next to her. When she stood to sing a damp stain of urine appeared below her right foot, and it broke my heart. But she held her head high and sang nonetheless, a beautiful picture of hope and strength.
Many of the people filling the church were patients; I saw many with bandages on arms or legs or eyes. I think the only difference at home is that many of our wounds are the hidden, internal kind... sins like pride, jealousy, anger. These wounds are easier to hide, perhaps, but potentially more damaging at the end of the day. I’m so thankful for a God who loves us despite our wounds, and who loves us enough to want to heal us, no matter how painful the treatment may be.
After church was over, I watched a woman let her children wander ahead of her on the path home as she led a blind man. He simply called out and lifted his stick, while she took hold of the end and began to lead him. A little thing, really, but completely beautiful to watch.
Lord, let me not forget: I too have wounds in need of Your healing, and I too am blind in many ways.
Come, restore my vision.
Come, heal my brokenness.