Today we went en masse to the Bread of Life International Church in Mapalo; the first church which Jubilee Centre supported and encouraged.
Lynette and I went to the Sunday school to see what they do and take part, at least that's what we expected. In reality there were 100 kids and the Sunday school leader handed the whole 90 minute session over to us. That was a terrifying moment. We had nothing planned, no resources and 100 kids ages between 1 and 18 looking at us expectantly.
It's in moments like this that you truly turn to Christ and beg for inspiration. It's in moments like this that you lean on God for the words that He wants you to share. It's in moments like this when the Holy Spirit rushes around and makes it happen.
And so it did. We started by introducing ourselves and telling a dramatised version of The Lost Sheep. Never have I been so thankful for knowing these stories inside and out and being happy to make a fool of myself. I told the story whilst Lynette made up actions; we had those kids baa-ing, jumping in fields, eating grass and going backwards and forwards from the farm and partying at the end; and the adults joined in. What joy! So much fun!
We then prayed together and we all said The Lord's Prayer before it was clear they'd like another story. This time I chose the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Just for fun we acted it out a bit; using the 16 year old Sunday school assistant as Jesus and some kids as the disciples, whilst everyone else was the crowd on the hillside. Not a peep came from those kids as they heard this story; they were completely and utterly engrossed in the message and meaning.
Half way through telling this story I had a panic about how appropriate it was to share a tale of miraculous feeding to children who never have enough food; but I got a strong sense that it was right and appropriate and full of hope.
I can't remember every detail of what else we did with those kids because it all fell into insignificance with what happened at the end. We prayed for them, in a way I've never prayed before - with pure trust that the prayers WOULD be fulfilled - it blew me away.
AND THEN!!!! The kids prayed for us; en masse, altogether, in Bemba and in tongues. We were floored; almost entirely. Tears streamed down my face and I was filled with the holy spirit; an experience I'll never forget.
An hour and a half had passed and we headed back into church; we expected to have missed the Sermon, but no, it had only just started. Neil was in full blown flow, in a way I've never seen before; he was bouncing and energised and completely spirit filled. He was wise, and funny and absolutely relevant. He was amazing and I'd love to get some of the Zambia Neil at home; in fact I'd love to have Zambian all of us at home and I'm sure it will happen.
After the sermon there was singing and praising and singing and praying and singing; I can't tell you how these things were different from each other, but it was all in the mass of voices and energy. And then we were invited forward for prayer.
Neil had told us to expect laying on of hands but I had no idea the whole congregation would pray in tongues over us as well. I have experienced the power of prayer through laying on of hands, but this was fantastically and wonderfully bigger than anything else I've felt before. I very nearly collapsed but was caught; what I did do was cry and cry and cry in a way that brought such healing.
The service blew us all away and will stay with us. Over the rest of the day we kept saying how we'd love to bring that home, and we will because it'll forever be with us.
As if this wasn't enough, the way we left the church was a gift. Everyone fed out and shook the hands of the people at the door; they then joined the "receiving line" and shook hands with everyone else leaving. What a way to meet and send out into the community; I'd love to see that at Pentecost especially.
Guess what happened next? As if the morning hadn't been mind blowing. There were baptisms in the pool outside the church. Six people were baptised covered by amazing singing and praise; what an honour it was to be a part of that with those new Christians.
We had wondered why we were given free time in the afternoon after Sunday but on the day we knew why. We didn't get back until 2pm and we were exhausted. It was just what we needed to relax together and process all we'd seen and experienced.
What a day; one I'll never forget and hanker to have again forever.