International Ministries

Kikongo's best Christmas play ever?

December 15, 2014 Journal
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Dear Friends,
        Not too long ago, the student pastor's wives re-enacted for me the opening of the classic book, Pilgrim's Progress, for Kikongo's morning chapel service. It was a rich experience for us as truths we know from God's word became alive to us and others in a new way. And, I observed ... doing the play together had the effect of uniting us. It wasn't, then, such a big leap for me to begin wondering if God could work through a church women's Christmas pageant to speak to Kikongo's scattered women (following recent months of disunity), beginning to build trust in each other. Truly a noble thought! Have you ever taken on a project you knew was completely, and absolutely WAY over your head? Blind faith,in my case. When I asked our Kikongo women's fellowship, did they want to do a Christmas play this year? All 6 of them at our meeting that week were delighted. Hm. Undaunted, we began, believing that those play characters not yet present, would appear at the next week's practice when the word began to trickle out. And, they have come! Our weekly meetings have grown to include eager soldiers, a most convincing Herod, a Gabriel who came knowing all her lines, some timid sheep, a small army of fluttering angels, shepherds fresh from the fields, and, of course a few Mary's and Joseph's. And there has been joy, replacing the unhappiness over months of paralysis, because of a splinter group among the women.
         The fly in the ointment is that as much as I pretend, I really have no idea what I'm doing. Oh, yes, I have a piece of paper with all the scene's carefully scripted, but I am alternately rendered speechless, astounded and delighted as the women seize each scene relying on year's of Kikongo pagaent traditions. Who am I to say that an angel can't get tired "wings" if she has to flap her arms too long while delivering a message from the Lord? And, perhaps it did take Zacharie 5 minutes in his old age to shuffle across stage? And, the Roman Census taker, just to be perverse, could have decided to take a nap on his desk right before Joseph and Mary got to him in line. (The census is one short scene on my paper, but a whole act full of Congolese experiences with burreacracy in this women's play.) Then, enter Herod. He might have interogated and arbitrairily thrown the Wise Men in jail for safe keeping before finally allowing them to again follow the star. Right?... And, none of this, or many other insightful details appear on my piece of paper - they have all been handed down from character to character through years of pageants here. Even the soldiers who appear at the census and who do Herod's bidding have names and well fleshed out characters. And, so, I have learned, my role in this play is really more as a facilitator, than a director. Very much still like holding a wild animal by the tail, but thanks to the women's skill at improvisation, this pageant may turn out to be a classic "Best Christmas Pageant Ever." Please pray for our Kikongo women, that the Lord would unite us once again, and that this pagaent would, in spite of it's obvious entertainment value, be honoring to the Lord at this time when we remember His birth.
                May God's peace and joy be with each of you during this season, Rita