I forgot how refreshing it is to experience Church in a different culture. As a team we are in our second week in Kolkata, India, living opposite the Church we’re working with, Agape. We’ve been welcomed, honored, heard and well fed by them. They’ve provided translators for us, people to show us around the local area and already our second party is on the horizon – oh how Indians love to party! Built into a culture thick with religion is the understanding of the importance of celebration.
I love seeing how people relate to God here. There is such a sense of urgency in their prayers and worship. I’ve seen more people than I can count ask for prayers for their health; people here trust that God can heal them. I’m accustomed to prayer times being quiet, mild and reserved, particularly when it’s suggested that we all pray aloud at once. Here though, prayer is avid, detailed, long and loud. I’ve joined in praying like this, enjoying that no one is listening to what I pray except God. Another flavor Church here holds is down to the Indian concept of time. People here are so much more generous with their time than I’m used to, much more willing to be interrupted in their day. Within Church, this breathes a community that has time for each other. It has been such a blessing to see Church done by a culture so different to mine. I have so much to learn from India’s practice of hospitality, of honouring guests and their priority of celebration.