July 10, 2011

Wearing Pajamas to Church

Rimom was the oldest man in the Village of  Testega.  He had been one of the first in the entire Meyah Tribe to trust in Christ, sometime after the first missionaries came. 

I remember Rimom as the man who always sat at the same place in church.  That was at the end of the log in the front facing all the rest of the people.  He usually came late and he always wore a pair of men's pajamas to church.

I was amused about that at first.  But Rimom and the other Meyah people didn't know his "Sunday best" was a pair of pajamas.  As far as they were concerned, Rimom had something none of the rest of them had--a set of clothes with matching top and bottom!

That was over twenty years ago when I was a missionary in Irian Jaya, Indonesia (now called Papua, Indonesia).  Even  now, while participating in an American church worship service with all the modern "fixings," I often think back to church services in Testega.

I remember sitting on logs for several hours. Oh, how hard, and squirming didn't help at all.  No back rest, either, to lean against.  How uncomfortable.

I remember the men and boys sitting on one side of the church, and the women and girls on the other side.

Naked children walked around or played during the service.  Young girls picked lice out of each other's hair.  Occasionally a village pig wandered down the aisle, or a chicken or two.  And always the gekkos (lizards) darted to and fro on the walls and ceilings.

The offering plate was a net bag (made from the fiber from pineapple leaves) that dangled from the end of a long bamboo pole.

Pieces of sweet potato (staple food of  the villagers) were used for the communion bread.  And pineapple juice for the communion wine. 

How simple, yet all normal to the Meyahs.  Certainly not any less worshipful or meaningful--just a different place,  a different culture with no need for modern fixings,  and a slower-paced life.

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