There is something indelible about the beauty of the Church, and I am not talking about the stain glass and murals. No, I am talking about the true Church, the living body of believers, the temple composed of people living together and in alignment with Christ. It’s beautiful.
It was a Tuesday afternoon the first time that we had bush church. Ounoas, Melki, Mamoya, their children and their wives gathered together with us under the tress near by their huts. The sun was hot, but everyone found their space in the shade. And then we began.
Under the inspiration of Acts 2:42 we prayed, we devoted ourselves to some of the apostles teaching, we had fellowship with one another, and if we had had food we would have shared it. It was beautiful and joy-giving.
For the next ten or so days we met together every afternoon and practiced, what I affectionately refer to as, bush church. It was wonderful. Bush church was something that I looked forward to and dreaded every day. We would enter into our meeting drained, tired and irritable, and after we would leave full of life and peace and joy through the Holy Spirit. As we practiced coming together, we grew. Eventually, when we met, we did not just do church… we became one. Our church left the confinement of the shade tree and leached in to the other aspects of our lives. I can only speak for myself here, but I found that I was filled with love and compassion for my brothers and sisters in that village, even more than I previously had been.
Bush church started as a burden I had during times of prayer in preparation for the trip as well as during the trip. But this burden did not remain only mine. By the third day everyone was enjoying the time. What started as a one directional 15 minute church ceremony on Tuesday, morphed into a thoughtful hour and a half long conversation by Friday. What started as me initiating everything, became Melki’s wife leading times of musical worship, Ounoas leading prayer and Miriamu sharing the word of God. It was awesome—even as I sit here writing I am filled with the joy of the Lord as I dwell on what he did.
Bush church is an all important reminder of what church ought to be. It needs to be a life-act not a show. It needs to be active every moment of every day, not just for a couple hours on Sunday. It needs to be, and be seen as, a body of believers, not a building. Imagine what would happen to the Church if people became it, rather than going to it…Imagine what would happen to this world if the Church more fully lived its role as ministers of the Love of Jesus to the uttermost. It is not to late for the church to wake up and live into all God has created it to be.
God is good. There is no denying that he is able—Ana Weza, as the say in Tanzania. He is the one who brought the Hadzabe tribe into his kingdom. He is the one who breathed life into bush church. He is the one who filled us with joy, love and compassion. He did it.
Hallelujah and Amen!