A Joyful Noise

Foreign services are a tremendous blessing and challenge. First, we are used to our schedules. Fifteen minutes of song, ten minutes of announcements, another song, two stanzas, a sermon and then off to Luby'’s Cafeteria. One of the most memorable moments I have had in an overseas church, came from an African Pastor. I inquired how long I had to present my program. He just smiled and said, "“Sister, we are here to worship the Lord, take all the time He tells you."

As our van pulled into the International Central Gospel Church, in spite of sealed windows and an expanse of concrete, the sounds of morning worship could be clearly heard. Here, there are two levels of volume for the sound systems: "“off" and '“loud'”, it was obviously and definitely not '“off'” this morning. As special guests, we were seated in the central aisle. There was no mistaking our '“special'” nature, for even among a crowd of 800 we were the only ones with a different color of skin. No chance to blend in, we were sticking out like white (though not sore) thumbs.

We were also the only ones who couldn'’t keep the rhythm of the praise beat. Oh, we tried. We watched the surrounding rows and desperately attempted to clap in unison. But somehow we were either too slow, too fast, clapping not enough times or too many times. It was comical. And of course there was the dancing. We shuffled our feet, kept missing the beat but… we were praising God and we were loud about it!

The songs may be loud, the sermons longer than we are used to, but I assure you the noise we made was "joyful"”.

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