Last Sunday we went to Berberati in order to join in the celebration as the new president of our local church was officially blessed and established in office, they call it “installation” in French. It was good to see so many old friends who we don’t normally see. Since many people were dressed up (Roy borrowed a suit and tie from Benoit and a shirt from Luke!), it was very entertaining to see all the new styles, one of them being these interesting hats.
The morning was divided into two parts; first a regular church service with hymns, prayers, sermon, and offering. During the offering we were amused to see sugared peanuts and soda pop passed out to the “invitees”, ie, the officials, committee members, dignitaries, us 3 missionaries (Roy, me, and Anton from Sweden), etc.
One of the special music numbers was a group of pompom girls, which is now a common thing at special occasions.
The sermon surprised me; the pastor boldly challenged all of us to allow the spirit to lead us and not be concerned about ourselves but to seek unity and reconciliation. We had the country President’s right hand man at the ceremony because of various connections, and I appreciated the pastor’s courage as he spoke about the higher ups skimming money into their own pockets rather than seeking to build the country’s unity. After the sermon and the offering we moved into the installation part of the morning. Everyone wanted to get pictures and recordings, so the moderator had to ask several times for the paparazzi to back away so the ceremony could continue.
More songs and sermon and speakers sharing, a time to give gifts to the new prez, and a time for the bigwigs to sign the “book of gold”. The writings, basically words of encouragement, challenge, and blessing, were then read out loud. This new president seems to have a solid reputation and he is a warm and friendly man, wise and strong in his faith. Please pray for him as he faces the challenges of leading a church in these trying times.
We were then fed a delicious meal and after we made sure all the books and sundry items we had brought from Gamboula for different offices and people were given, we piled into the truck and headed home. A long but very good day.