Thank you for praying. Here’s what happened today.
Liz and I started the day early by walking the short walk to the shore of Lake Tanganyika which is right behind the Villa Ilac where we are staying. We were both taking videos and both of us think we got some powerful shots of people coming to the lake at sunrise to wash their clothes, brush their teeth, and so forth. The sunrise was nice as well.
Then came the unpleasant discovery that, unlike last year when I stayed here, this year there is no hot water…..ever……period. We compared notes at breakfast and discovered that our coping skills for a cold shower were remarkably similar! We met a woman about my age in the cafe tonight that has stayed here for several years as have I. Every time I come back, it’s just a little bit more run down. This is what you should expect from everything here in Central Africa.
We walked the short distance to the “university” where the teaching and meetings were to be held. The teaching started out a little rough as the concepts I was teaching were completely unfamiliar with the students. Unlike last year, we had both men and women, and the classroom was packed by the end of the lesson. Even though the concepts were tough, all were very attentive and by the end of the day, I think most understood the concept of a dispensation, how they are derived from the Bible, and what characterizes all the dispensations.
Flory got up after I was finished (he came late and had one of his students translating for me in his absence). He insisted that people ask questions. There had be few prior to that. I asked him later why he did that and he said that in previous years, people save their questions till after I’m gone and then ask him! He wanted all the questions out while I was there.
The interest in the topic was intense. Some of the men complained that I wouldn’t be there long enough to finish the topic and insisted that I stay an extra day. We were planning on heading back to Bujumbura on Monday, but Tuesday afternoon will work just as well.
After the lesson was over, Liz and I came back to the hotel for rest and lunch. We discussed better ways to get the video that we wanted.
When we returned (at about 3 PM), we were shocked. The crowd was so large that in was overflowing into the street and taking up about a third of the road. We had to press our way through the mass of people that was literally packed in together.
After the choirs finished singing and dancing (a part I always love), I got up to preach. I wasn’t expecting much because in past years its been difficult for me to keep the attention of the (mostly) young crowd. I confess that while the choirs were singing, I was praying earnestly that God would bless my sermon.
People come to me all the time with short-fused requests and say something like, “Oh I’m sure it won’t be any problem for you. You’re so smart you can just wing it.” They say that only because I never wing it. My goal is always to be studied and prepared before I speak anywhere.
But I wasn’t expecting to preach today. I had no time to prepare. So…….I winged it. God, being ever merciful, made this the most effective sermon I have ever preached here. The crowd was large, they were attentive all the way through, and at the end, two people came forward for salvation.
The altar call was given by Pastor Timothy, but when they came forward, I was called forward to pray with them. They handed me the mic and I took the time to explain the Gospel as simply but as completely as I know how. I explained how we are all sinners, how our sins have earned us a wage, how wages must be paid, and how Christ paid that wage for us by dying in our place. When I was sure they understood, I prayed with them and they returned to their seats. Thus, not only did they get the gospel explained to them, but everyone else in the overflow crowd heard it as well.
Bottom line: as usual, all the glory goes to God, who condescends to help unprepared preachers. He uses his word as he sees fit, even when it is being translated into another language from a preacher speaking with notes.
It is true that there is nothing to wonderful for the Lord.
PostScript: There are not photos are movies in this blog post because I’ll be lucky (as Calvin would say) to get this text posted at all. There’s no point with the fragile internet here to even try anything more complicated. We we get home, I *promise that videos and pictures will be posted.*