Last sunday, we attended a small church about half an hour away from Pastor and Sarah's house. They were in the middle of worship when we got there, but some stopped for a moment to welcome all of us. We were invited to sit in a place of honor, on benches up behind where the worship leaders and speakers were. There was not much about the service or the building itself that in any way resembled the church services I am used to back home. The structure was built with roughly cut planks of wood, with many gaps, and there were no doors. The people were worshipping through both song and dance, following a man and a woman who took turns leading the crowd.
After the music was done, the pastor asked for a few members of the congregation to tell short testimonies. One woman stood, and gave thanks that her mother was still alive, even though her house had burned down a few days prior. What struck me about her story was that she did not say how sad she was that the house was gone, and then add on that she was grateful her mother was still alive. No, she said nothing about the grief that the incident must surely have caused her and her family. She simply expressed her joy that she could still worship beside her mother.
After church, everyone slowly made their to Bukeeka to Fountain of Hope, where a large group was gathering to go down to the Nile for a mass baptism. In addition to the van that our group (plus some extras) rode down in, there were three truckloads of people who attended the baptism. In total, 162 were baptized that day. When I heard there was going to be a baptism, I figured it would be, at most 20 people. Obviously, the numbers were far greater! It was unlike any other baptism I have ever seen. Not only did people show up in great numbers, to be baptized in the Nile river (the Nile!), souls were set free in ways I had not imagined would occur. There were probably about 15 or 20 people who had demons cast out of them as a result of their baptisms. It was both frightening and powerful to watch. The acceptance of a spirit world is so ingrained in the culture in this area, that it makes it quite easy for the people to accept the ideas of heaven and hell, and those that dwell there. However, it also leaves them open to all sorts of spirits that are not of the Lord. Before the baptism, Pastor Robert even had to ask that anyone who wished to be baptized go a ways into the bush and cast off any talismans or other such items before they went into the water. All in all, it was a pretty eventful day.