Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Sunday Morning Church

For a cultural experience, I went to church with my host-family last weekend.  To start, I was worried that my clothes wouldn’t be conservative enough so I wore leggings under my dress and a light sweater over my shoulders.

I shouldn’t have worried.  Many of the women were in heels and little, fitted dresses.  Church was obviously a  place to see and be seen.

The service lasted about 3 hours.  It was air-conditioned, thank goodness.  There was lots of singing and swaying, which I enjoyed.  There were no exorcisms, which my colleague witnessed at one church event with her host-family (she stopped attending afterwards).

The Pastor’s main story, though, wasn’t particularly inspiring.  Nor did it make sense.  There are a lot of really nice parables in the Bible, so it doesn’t seem like it should be that hard to make me feel a little more friendly towards Christianity.  “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone” and all that.  Instead, the Pastor said something that went like this:

There was a man with a beautiful daughter that everyone wanted to marry.  The father decided to host a race and whoever won the race could marry his daughter.

Every young man in town signed up, but then a dog also signed up.  The men knew they couldn’t beat the dog, so they all dropped out – except one man.  He wanted to marry the girl and he believed in God’s power, so he stayed in the race.

The night before the race, God lay bones along the path that it would be run.  Big, juicy bones.

In the morning, the man and the dog started the race.  At the first bone, the dog paused.  He wanted to win, but he also wanted the bone.  “How often do big, juicy bones appear?” he thought.  “I’m going to eat it.”

He lay down to eat it and the man ran past.  The dog finished the bone and quickly overtook the man again.  But then he saw a second bone.  “I’ve already had one, but I’d like another,” the dog thought. “Even if the man is only one second away from the finish line, I can still beat him.”

As he was eating the second bone, however, the man crossed the finish line and won the race.

The moral of the story is that beautiful women are like bones in your path, keeping you from accomplishing what God has laid out for you to do.

Seriously?  Women are either prizes or street meat?  If anything, I’d say the moral is don’t eat food off the ground.  The dog in the story had more character than the woman!

I wasn’t impressed.  After it was over, my host-sister ushered me to the section for people who were attending for the first time.  I had to fill out a questionnaire with my name and phone number as well as answer questions like “How do you feel after today’s service?”  The choices were “Inspired,” “Very inspired,” and “Truly inspired.”

This is culturally insensitive and callous to say, but now that I’ve ticked that off my list of experiences I don’t think I’ll go back.  Mostly because I don’t have any high heels here and my shoe envy was awfully sinful.


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