Church South-African Style (all day!)

Written by Lydia Stein, Fall Cape Town student from Bethel University. dock-cape-town-ls

Today was my first day at church. I’m not sure what I expected. Somehow it was simultaneously all I expected, nothing like what I imagined, and more than I hoped it could be. After 2 weeks without being able to attend church and be in community with believers (other than Jodi) it was so refreshing to be with the body of Christ. It felt like a family reunion!  I was immediately welcomed with open arms, greeted with smiles and warmth by everyone I met. How beautiful it is that I could find family  on the other side of the world from home!

Hillsong’s Gugulethu campus meets in a school building. The majority of attendees are under the age of 20. When we walked in the iron gate, people were serving oatmeal, oranges, bananas, coffee, and biscuits to all the kids and their parents who had arrived early. We walked through the small crowd to a classroom where the Kid Ministry volunteers were meeting. I think I was greeted by 10 different people during that short walk. It was so welcoming and put me right at ease.

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What amazed me the most about the Kid Ministry was not the curriculum, facilities, or schedule. Instead, it was the leaders themselves. In our circle of 20 leaders, only about 5 were over age 20. The rest were 11 or 12 up to seniors in high school! These youth were some of the most mature and spirit filled individuals I have met. Micah, who looked no older than 16 was teaching the lesson to the 6th and 7th graders and his prayer at the end of the volunteer meeting sent chills down my spine.

The children I helped with were 3 to 5 year-olds.  One little girl (who’s Xhosa name I could not pronounce) came and plopped down in my lap to help me solve a puzzle. She looked up at me with beautiful, sad eyes because today was her first day with the bigger kids. We didn’t speak the same language, but somehow communication was simple. A little boy (Xhosa name that I can’t pronounce again!) came over and started singing and dancing, and soon a dance party was going. Sim followed me around while I helped clean up, grabbing the chairs and table with me and “helping” carry it to the closet. She then grabbed my hand, dancing along beside me while we walked out to the front of the church. I had to pry my hand away in order to go to a young adults meeting! We hopped in on the end of the Power House (18-25 year) meeting about the upcoming worship night. I loved the atmosphere of intentionality and evangelism. At the end, we prayed, but that meant everyone prayed- out loud! I loved the chaos of everyone praying and crying out to God together. It was beautiful.

After lunch, we went to the volunteer meeting for Century City Hillsong. It was very exciting and loud and there were lots of “Amens!” and “Oh YAH!”s. I really liked how personal and interactive it was. Then we went to the 5 pm service. It was the end of the youth “Encounter Conference,” so I think it was a little crazier than normal! But it was like a concert – crazy lights, loud music, and amazing musicians. I enjoyed it, but it was definitely different than home. At the end, there was an altar call, and about 20 people came to the front to show they had received Jesus as their savior tonight – about 10 of whom were adults! It was inspiring and beautiful.

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