8:00a.m., Sunday morning, Maputo, Mozambique. The Women’s Xirilo (the women’s group of the UCCSA Mozambique) is gathering at the Mavalane Church near the airport.
8:00a.m., Sunday morning, Maputo, Mozambique. The Women’s Xirilo (the women’s group of the UCCSA Mozambique) is gathering at the Mavalane Church near the airport. They are celebrating a special day where three new women will be “bloused” into the Xirilo. These three women will take vows to be prayerful women of God, to wear their uniforms proudly and to commit themselves to serving the church. Rev. Maria bloused their stark white shirts with a new belt and a blue bow. There was much singing and dancing to celebrate!
After the celebrations, offering and sermon the Xirilo and deacons of the church came forward, bowed down on their knees and began to pray out loud together. I sat in my chair right beside where the people were bowed down. Our kids also sat beside me, mouths gaped open wondering what was going on. I quietly explained to the kids that they were praying together and still they sat in amazement. There were some people whispering to God, others shouting, some solemn, some crying, but all bowed down on both knees seeking…hoping...praying.
I felt uncomfortable I, sitting in my chair, looking on at this wonderful act of worship. I felt humbled. I was challenged to think about my own prayer life while watching sisters and brothers in Christ pour their hearts out to God. We have been learning Portuguese, the official language of Mozambique, but I so wished I understood Xitshwa (the local language used in the UCCSA churches here) so I could hear the prayers of the people and know their needs and hearts like God. The power of the Holy Spirit was so real, you could feel her. She was moving and dancing among the prayers.
And when this group of people quietly and solemnly returned to their benches, there it was. The tear stained floor. There were small puddles of tears on the floor where people had been pouring out their hearts to God. Right there in front of me. Evidence. Evidence of God. Evidence that the Holy Spirit was been in this place.
And soon those tears were dried up with the movement of feet dancing, singing and celebrating again. But the picture in my mind is still there…tears of God’s people poured out in worship and prayer.
When last have I had a tear stained floor? When last have I poured out my heart to God and felt the Holy Spirit dance among my prayers? It is time….it is time!
Rev. Dawn Barnes
Jonathan and Dawn Barnes serve with the Mozambique Synod of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, based in Maputo, Mozambique. Dawn serves as an HIV and AIDS Coordinator and Jon serves as project and development officer.