In Your Words
 

Mission Immersion: Sabbath

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The barriers that prevent cultures from engaging together can sometimes feel overwhelming and indestructible. On Sunday, July 15, 2012, driven by the Holy Spirit, those barriers were broken among four churches in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Mission Immersion group divided into teams to visit four different local Nazarene churches. The students embraced the many anxious feelings swelling within as they were directed by missionary Tammy Condon to "enter their church and sit with a new person. Try to get to know them." Although we were unaware, God had some awe-inspiring experiences in store.

ImageIf you've never felt like you “stuck out like a sore thumb,” try walking into a church where you do not speak the same language, you are not the same skin color, and your nerves are at an all-time high. Tessa Ward, 16 from Buckley, Michigan, was among most of us feeling timid about the initial experience.

“It was kind of uncomfortable because we didn't know anybody. It was really hard because they didn't speak a lot of English where they live.”
 
Tessa attended Kware Church of the Nazarene where her eyes opened to “true worship.”
 
“The church was really worn down; they had a tin roof, that’s all.”
 
She began to worship in the small church, but the keyboard (being the only musical instrument) kept cutting out and there was no projector to read the Swahili words. The distractions kept her from worship until she realized, “I’m here to praise God, I’m not here to praise the music, the church we’re sitting in, or the people surrounding us. We're here to praise God."
 
It was at this moment that Tessa solely began to worship the Lord with her heart. Looking back she recalls, "I think a lot of stuff I learned is that I'm not here to praise the material things, I'm here to praise God. They (the members of Kware Nazarene Church) are just there to praise God, and you know it."
 
Tessa's experience was similar to many of the other students. Their eyes opened to what worshipping God with a genuine heart is all about.
 
Many of the Mission Immersion students had no prior experience to stepping outside of the comfortable boundaries of their home Nazarene church. For instance, Brittany Walker, 17 from Ava, Missouri, also learned to embrace the Spirit of God as she traveled to Kware with Tessa. Brittany especially remembers the warm hearts of the members.
 
"They made us feel at home. The church didn't judge us; we were so humbled and thankful to be there with them. It just felt like we were a part of their church family."

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She recalls the power of Pastor Paul's (senior pastor of Kware Nazarene Church) sermon, being "so indepth and loud that it really caught your attention."
 
Brittany's experience on our Sabbath day in Nairobi didn't stop once she left the Sunday morning service, however. Afterward, the participants enjoyed a private service in the cafeteria with worship led by Kurtis Strunk, an adult sponsor on the trip and youth pastor at Mesa First Church of the Nazarene in Mesa, Arizona.
 
The Holy Spirit began to move among our team as students shared their beautiful testimonies. Brittany was one of the students particularly touched. Like many students, Brittany recalls her realization that she had come on this trip for the wrong reason.
 
"When people were giving their testimonies, it made me realize I came here to Mission Immersion to try to figure out where God wanted me to go. I came here trying to find answers. But the reason God sent me here is because I need to learn."
 
Brittany's heart was moved as she discerned that life presents us with many doors along our walk in life, and "everyone is just trying to open the last door and see into the future. But, you need to open the door that is in front of you. You just have to trust Him; just open one door at a time."
 
Brittany reminded me of a verse she loves: Psalm 119:105 (NIV) "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." I couldn't agree with her thoughts more, for the Lord is our light, and He will lead us along His path, if we let Him.
 
The students were not the only members of the Mission Immersion team to be affected by our Sabbath Day spent in Nairobi, Kenya. Emily Strunk, of Mesa First Church of the Nazarene in Mesa, Arizona, a Mission Immersion adult sponsor, was also touched by the experience she had at Nairobi Central Nazarene Church. The warm welcome to the students included the adult leaders.
 
"I was blessed watching the students step out of their comfort zones,” she said. “After the service I saw a lot of students making an effort to go talk to people. I was really proud of the students to step out of where they are comfortable and reach out to others."

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Emily was moved by the genuine praise the Kenyans had for the Lord. Emily particularly noticed "their passion for Christ and how they are just really excited to praise Him and give Him all the glory. I think that's something in America that we don't always remember to do."
 
Looking back, it is exciting to remember July 15, 2012, as a day on which the Lord opened the Mission Immersion team's eyes to the beauty of the worldwide family of Christ. We were overwhelmed with a fear that we would not be able to communicate or worship because we were in such a foreign environment. But the Mission Immersion team was blessed to experience worship with our true brothers and sisters in Christ. Not a single barrier can ever hold back the power of the Lord, and when we come together in worship, the Lord will unite us as one, creating an unshakable family of worshippers.
 
Our team will carry this lesson with us through each cross-cultural experience the Lord brings us through. Although different in race, culture, gender, etc., there is no barrier that will separate us from the love of Christ. No barrier will separate the brothers and sisters of Christ from joining together as a family of believers, worshipping the same everlasting God.
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