Last Sunday I had the privilege to visit a church in Bundikuri, a small village about 5 km from our house. I loved it. We met in a small one-room building made of mud and straw. Shawn and Heather Wallace were visiting us with Robert Carr. Robert and Shawn led a seminar on Peace and Reconciliation- a powerful promise from the Gospel. Afterwards, the pastor of the church in Bundikuri asked Shawn to speak for their Sunday service. So I hopped on a boda (motorcycle taxi) with Shawn and tagged along. Because we were guest, the children’s, women’s and church choir all lead us in worship- a beautiful mix of rhythm, color and voice. Shawn gave a great talk about Peter- someone I so often identify with, someone who has lots of big ideas but is scared to death when it’s time to trust Jesus and follow.
After the service, they held a baby christening. Six couples with their baby went to the front to ask for the Lord’s protection, promises and help in raising their children. They all looked so proud of their dressed up child and all looked so nervous about parenting. I could so identify with them. It was really the first time while in Africa that things felt familiar enough that it could have happened at our church in the US. That is until the elder and pastor undressed each child enough to check for charm bracelets and waistbands meant to keep evil spirits and illness away. One by one, each mother shyly pulled it off and gave it to the pastor. The pastor then prayed and parents vowed to raise the child to know Jesus and to trust Jesus with their salvation, future and safety.
I was struck with the profoundness of their act. They had to give up what their culture and families have taught for generations would protect their children. They did this because they were going to trust Jesus to take its place. I began to think of all the things I trust in to protect my children- “perfect” parenting, money, smart- well adjusted- well behaved friends, top education, federally inspected toys, clean floors, organic food, schedules, insurance… It’s a wonder my children can be kids with all of these charms hanging from them. Many of these have been stripped from us by moving to Africa. So, I often feel guilty about not having my children in certain schools or playing with the newest educational toy or while watching Aidan crawl across our bumpy concrete floor, or put anti-itch and anti-biotic cream on their dozens of bug bites. I wish I could take away these feelings as easily as removing a bracelet. But as hard as it is for my new friends here to step out of their culture and trust Jesus, so it is for me. I do trust Him today and pray I can again tomorrow.