International Ministries

Easter in Rural Congo

April 22, 2011 Journal
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After our Good Friday morning prayers this morning, people were talking about the church in a nearby village.  Last Sunday church members were split up for services in surrounding villages and had no Palm Sunday commemoration. The pastor had made no announcements about Easter services for this Sunday.  But he did announce a fundraiser service.  His church members were puzzled.  "Maybe the pastor didn't know," I suggested tentatively. 

Didn't know?  Just imagine your pastor forgetting Easter, or not knowing when it was and passing it by!  But think about it.  Where is a pastor in the rural heart of Africa to get such information as the date for Easter?  Theoretically from his district pastor.  But what if the district pastor doesn’t know either? 

This year Brother Thomas, a short-term German missionary-pastor living in Vanga, and I have been revising a 20-year-old training curriculum for lay pastors.  As we were working on the “worship” module, this question of the important faith events came up.  Twenty years ago church leaders in Kinshasa circulated the church calendar each year.  They don’t do this anymore.  An isolated rural pastor, with no television, no radio, no local paper to help him keep track, may not know when Christians around the world are celebrating the central event of our faith.  So now a table of Easter dates for the next 30 years is part of the new curriculum.  That rural African pastor and his congregation can stay connected to the rest of the body of Christ.

Cherish your connectedness.  As this Easter dawns think about that wave of voices rising from the international dateline, across Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and North America and out across the Pacific Ocean again. 


p.s.:  I’ve sent a discrete note to the pastor from the next village wishing him and his congregation a good Easter celebration this Sunday, and an inquiry to his women’s choirs as to whether their Easter songs are ready.