Last Sunday we had to park our car a couple of blocks from church and as we were walking down the road we heard some vibrant worship music and singing coming from another church that meets in the school hall across the road from the one we have been going to. The singing had a distinctive Pacific Islander accent to it which made us stop a bit and listen in.
Half jokingly Joanne says “Lets go in.” And as we continued to walk down the road, we both felt this conviction that indeed the Lord wanted us to go and join in. We were a little worried that we were running late and said ‘Maybe next week’, when another car drove into the car park and a family got out to go into the service and we instantaneously said to each other, “Lets go!”There was around 80 – 90 people inside. A mixture of young and old the majority being Islanders (Samoan)
We were made very welcome and it was like stepping back in time to what I have read about the old revival meetings. I heard more “Praise the Lord” and “Halleluiahs” in that one meeting then what I have over the last 16 years. And wow, can these guys sing and worship to the Lord. People were getting up and testifying of the goodness of the Lord. There were testimonies of answered prayer, the previous weeks ministry by the youth at a conference they were invited to as well as a couple of encouragements / prophecies that people thought the Lord was inspiring them to share. There was a drama unfolding in front of us as a lady started to fit. The worship leader stopped the proceedings, asked someone to ring the ambulance and then directed us to all pray for this lady. We continued to pray for her as the ambulance personal ministered to her and took her to hospital. I was very impressed with how this was all handled. There was a equal balance of faith and medical responsibility given for this lady’s care. As the lady was taken out the door, we commended her to the Lord and continued our praise and worship. Did I mention, Wow, these guys know how to sing and praise the Lord. Afterwards we were invited to lunch and we went and had lunch with the pastor and the congregation. Not only did these guys know how to sing and praise the Lord, they also know how to put on a great feast.
Yesterday I went back. I was running late as they start at 10am and I arrived at 10:30am and they were going full swing with their praising the Lord. They had a mixture of old songs, new songs, in-between songs. The interesting thing about their worship is that they sung praise to the Lord from 10am to 11:45am non stop, and the lead singers were standing at front row of seating, facing towards the stage. They had more testimonies including the lady who fitted the week before, who thanked us for our prayers, as she could hear everything that was going on, she just couldn’t move or speak at the time. Another young lady stood up and shared how the Lord protected her in a serious car accident, and while she was being interviewed by the police, someone rang her up and told her she had got the job from the job interview she was on the way home from.
Another guy stood up and said who his whole faith and walk with the Lord was dramatically changed for the better when he encountered the Baptism of the Holy Spirit…and then asked us, quoting Paul’s question from Acts to the disciples outside Ephesus…Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Then we had more singing, and the word was given by a lady who preached about Nehemiah rebuilding the walls with the theme, “Are we going to believe God’s word or instead do we believe what others taunt us about what God says to us?” This was followed by more praise and worship, with someone leading us from the front, and then the whole congregation broke out in singing in tongues. I haven’t experienced this for many years, perhaps 8 years or longer. We all broke out in this melody, which seemed to be directed by a heavenly conductor – myself included – and for this period of time it was as if all time was suspended, and we were on Holy Ground and in the direct presence of the God almighty. Another lady stood up and gave her testimony and they sung a song in their language and once again, it was like standing on Holy Ground, I had goose bumps all over me.
I have to say, I was all worshipped out by the end of the service. I just couldn’t stand up any more and sat down. They basically sung from 10am to 1 pm. The pastor greeted me and apologised for the lateness of the service ending, saying that at times when they get going, they just keep going.
I have to say I haven’t seen such a bunch of joyful Christians for a long time. And in many aspects, walking into this church was like coming home. They are unashamedly Pentecostal and yet they are not caught up in the trappings of the modern Pentecostal movement. There is no message on tithing given – only an encouragement to give the offering you feel led to give. There was some mention of some large bills coming up and so they would hold a special offering next week to cover them, and again asked that we would seek the Lord as to how much he would have us contribute towards them. They absolutely believe God heals today and yet absolutely believe in good medical care. Last week when I shared with the pastor my story, “He gave me a hug, and said “Craig, Thank God we serve a God whose mercies are new every day.”
For some strange reason or other, I think I will go back again next week. But till then have a listen to this, pretty catchy hey!