Chairs vs Pews

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Content

Sunday school

Sunday school

No windows, no doors, no floor.  Just love!

No windows, no doors, no floor. Just love!

I heard it again this week. You know, the old debate of chairs vs pews.  And of course, there is the question of what color.  I have even found myself in that debate before.  With traveling on deputation, and now on furlough, Jack and I have had the opportunity to measure both.  I’ll even go out on a limb and give you my choice…..chairs.  Pews have always struck the back of my thighs in the wrong place, making them uncomfortable for long sitting.  Nice padded chairs have been so much more comfortable.  Yes, I know, pews look more like “church” while chairs are more contemporary.  The sad part is that I have seen some churches divided and angry with each other over this simple issue.  Heaven forbid you enter the issue of carpet color or even the color of the shingles on the roof!  The thing that really changed my heart on this issue was being in the “churches” of Zambia.  In a Western-style building you will find the older women (muchinbili) sitting on straw mats on the floor with their backs supported by the wall.  I often join them there during service, immediately becoming a part of them. They smile and pat my hand or my leg and nod their approval.  It’s the little things like this that make them take me in as a part of them, and for them to listen to what I have to say about Leza or Jesu.  How simple.  In the bush churches a chair will be brought from someone’s hut to seat the missionary in a place of importance.  I don’t want that place of importance. I want to sit among the people God has placed a great love for In my heart. Think the pews in your church are hard?  Try sitting on a rough wooden plank for four hours.  Four hours?  Yes!  Many of the people have had to walk a long distance for services.  They are hungry to hear about this great loving God.  They don’t want to sit for 30-45 minutes to have their ears tickled.  They may sing for an hour or more, raising their voices in praise.  Preaching will encompass the next 2, 3, or even 4 hours.  Each missionary “pastor” is asked to speak a full message, not a snippet. Yes, give me that old wooden plank among all the singing, swaying bodies.  The little ones finally get over their fear of the mzungu and come to touch me.  If praying for us, the women’s hands always go in my hair not on my shoulder when they lift me up.  My heart swells to be in the middle of them all as we worship together.  Yes, you can have your pews or your chairs, it doesn’t matter to me.  I am quite content with the ground that we’ve swept clear of elephant dung before we can spread our mats, the hard mats on the concrete floor in a church building, or the rough, hard wooden planks of a village church.  No, it’s more than being content.  It is being full of joy in a land and among the people to which the Lord has called us. I am beyond blessed!   Charlye

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