It was Sunday and I was scheduled to speak at one of the satellite campuses of Maranatha Church in Arusha, Tanzania. Garrison and I started the morning at the main campus and after 30 minutes in the main service, we were transported about 40 minutes away to a smaller campus church where service was already in progress.
The pastor escorted Garrison, the translator, and me to special seats at the front of the church as the musicians and singers continued in worship. About the time we reached our seats, it began to rain. You can see a picture of the building (tent) just above this article.
The “building” was basically a tent constructed of various pieces of cloth sewn together with logs as support beams and mud floors covered with grain. There were gaps and holes in the covering of the tent, so it was inevitable that rain started dripping in the tent. In fact, it started dripping on the chair that I was sitting in. The pastor noticed the water dripping on me and moved me to another seat. Within a few minutes, the leaking had moved to me new location and I was moved again.
The rain didn’t diminish the worship and excitement of the church and after a few minutes of announcements and offering, I was introduced and I started my message. The common language of the people was Swahili, so I used a translator as I began my message. About 7-8 minutes into my message, the pastor, who knew limited English and was seated in the special seating on the stage, started shouting “Point!”, “Point!” as he thrust his pointer finger straight up into the air. He repeated this phrase so loudly and repetitively that I stopped preaching and looked back at him to see what he was trying to communicate.
My initial thought was that he was telling me that the tent was leaking in the area I was standing in and he was urging me to move. I looked up at the tent above and didn’t see any leaks of consequence. By this time, the translator had turned around and was watching me look at the pastor. After a few seconds of awkwardness, the pastor conveyed through the translator that I had made a good “point” in my message and that he was drawing attention to it so that the people in the service would take note.
I was relieved that his shouting was for a good thing… So, I regained my composure and continued my message. Each time I came to a “point” in my message, I emphatically yelled, “Point!” “Point!” as we continued on. ;)
When we returned back to the main campus, I had opportunity to talk with the lead pastor over all of the Maranatha churches and he told me that it was a very good thing to have the pastor make such a strong statement about something I said. My brother, who is a pastor and who was on the trip with us, had preached at this church a few days before. He overheard my story and told us he hadn’t heard the pastor yell “Point!” during his message. The rest of the trip we had fun ribbing each other back and forth about what happened.
The people of Tanzania, especially in the churches we visited, are hungry for God and it was an awesome experience to see them express themselves in worship and praise.