Sunday was such a good change up from constantly moving, to only going to church. We were told to wear wrap skirts or fancy dresses, if we had them. The church we decided to attend was the one in the drug jungle with Josh. Our team cleaned up well!
We walked into the drug jungle church and a group of guys were all ready there. We greeted them with many good mornings and sat down on the couches in the front of the room. Josh was writing on the whiteboard and the guys decided to screw in a lightbulb up front to provide more light. The power went out for a minute, but then came back on, which was a God thing. By this point, the power going off is a common happening. In America, we freak out about losing power for a couple hours only like once a year or so.
The room was quiet and the guys there were respectful and quiet while Josh wrote, many of them jotting down the notes displayed. The guys all came from addiction backgrounds or working on overcoming their addictions, but you could tell they were so eager to learn and participate. They came EXPECTING to learn.
The way this service ran was different than a typical Sunday we are used to. This wasnt a traditional Nigerian service. This was a teaching setting. Pastor Marc was going to share around 10-15min, then Julie was going to share, and Josh would end with a teaching, which, judging by the whiteboard notes, would be about Joseph being sold into slavery.
Josh started off the time together by writing down prayer requests/praises. The guys shared about loved ones being sick and a praise about protecting them from a motorcycle accident, but then one guy shared that he was struggling to be free. Sounded like he wanted to turn back to his addiction because it made him feel free. Josh then asked him, “What is freedom?” The man answered by saying no restrictions and then continued by saying money can provide freedom because the more you have, you can do whatever you want. The rest of the guys started laughing, but Josh calmly told them it wasnt funny because the man was being honest. Some of them might have been thinking the same thing. Josh continued to respond with a teaching, saying that in this life there will always be restrictions, whether its laws or circumstances, so in that case, you would never find freedom. He shared that money would make you a slave and not truly free. In this life on earth, its impossible to truly have freedom due to the constant pull of sin. That’s where Jesus comes into play. He is the only One who can really help us achieve the closest we can to ultimate freedom. I definitely summarized! With that, he prayed over the whole list from those who were unashamed to share.
Marc was introduced and as soon as the first sentence came out of his mouth, the team knew this wasnt going to be 10 minutes. It was a 35 minute sermon! It was a good one though that all the guys really related to. It was about the man on the mat giving excuses of why he wasnt getting well due to his disability. Looking at his surroundings and circumstances rather than looking to Jesus, who was standing right next to him. He challenged the guys to not let the excuses keep them where they are and look to Jesus, who is also guiding them, giving them power, and standing right beside them. Pastor Marc also mentioned Abraham who didnt see the provided sacrifice on the other side of then hill, but still was going to go through with Gods command to sacrifice his only son he had and put his trust in God for the future.
Julie shared her testimony next which really resonated with the guys in the room. I heard the guys behind me really getting into it. She spoke with such heart, reality, and authenticity. She stayed more in the time limit but she really captured the attention of the crowd.
Since it was Sunday, we really did make the day about rest and God. We came to the bunkhouse and hung out as a team, worshiping, chatting, joking, and really connecting. The girls and I talked through what we would do at the boys refuge the next day with them so we picked out songs and games to show them and sing.
Martha, one of the guest house workers who cooks and also cleans, asked if she could paint my toes. She is such a sweetheart and is so filled with joy! Her hugs are so wonderful and her laugh is contagious. Since COVID, those who work at the bunkhouse have been financially hurting due to being out of work for the two years they weren’t able to have guests. She had me pick a color and we had some great conversations. We talked about our families and I found our she has a dog too. Her dog is much fatter than the rest of the dogs since she is able to bring them home scraps from working in the kitchen. Her neighbor tried to steal her dog, due to the access meat, since some around here eat dog. In the process, her dog is missing as eye due to the struggle to get away. She loves her dog and said she had never eaten dog meat, even though she is from a tribe that does. I asked her what was for dinner and to my surprise, they were making us pizza! I told her I all ready knew that it would be the beat pizza ever since all the food they make us is SOOO GOOD!
As expected, the pizza was really good! In fact, the pizza was Pastor Marc’s God sighting for every night since then! LOL The crust was crunchy, the sauce was thinly spread made with pure tomatoes (they dont have any preserves here), a good amount of cheese, loaded with non greasy meat, peppers, and onions.
The day ended with Julie and I staying up till 2:30am, our record for the latest time yet while on this trip lol