by Sharron Thompson
July 10, 2016
This morning we attended church, but with a twist! We decided to go to a Pentecostal church about a 10 minute drive from the Skinny Hippos Lodge where we are staying.
Bayana got up early and scouted out several churches for us: Presbyterian, Catholic, Anglican & Pentecostal. We chose Pentecostal for a few reasons: it was different, there would be contemporary music, and they had an English/Chichewa translation so we would have some idea of what was being said.
We were greeted by the bishop of the church who was happy and surprised to see 12 Americans, 2 small Malawian children-Kwamara & Watonda Chunga calling Omer & Sharron “Papa and Nana,” and Bayana & Shingi Chunga. When he recognized Bayana, he was astounded that such a well-known Malawian personality was visiting his church!
The bishop then met Lisa Warner-Carey, and promptly asked her to preach the sermon for the day-now Lisa was astounded that anyone would turn their church over to a complete stranger. Plus, she now had to come up with an impromptu sermon!
The church was a long building with a tin roof and the pews were plastic garden chairs. The front of the church was decorated with fabric, a pulpit, a man playing guitar and a young man playing electronic organ. On the other side was a choir singing beautifully. Not only did we sing but we danced and raised our arms in praise.
The service began at 10:00 a.m. We were introduced to the congregation; people were especially impressed when Bayana was introduced. The music was loud and contemporary with a lot of “Hallelujahs and Amens” shouted out. We even sang a Beyonce song!
Lisa gave a wonderful sermon that was translated by Bayana into Chichewa. The focus of Lisa’s sermon related to both Americans and Malawians: how we share a common faith and love of Jesus. She preached that instead of being divided into different denominations, we should all work together as one in the name of our Lord. Many “Amens” were shouted out by the large congregation, including those of us from CUMC.
People around the village must have heard that an unusual group was visiting the church as more and more people arrived during the service. Once Lisa completed her sermon, Bayana got up and preached in English with a church member translating into Chichewa. He expounded on Lisa’s sermon and told how he met Sharron at a wedding in the U.S. In 2005. He also received many “Amens.”
After the service was over we mingled and shook hands with each other. The bishop thanked us for our unexpected visit. We returned to The Skinny Hippos Lodge for lunch after an exciting and adventurous morning.