Dancing in the Church

There was a gathering at the Prayer Center Wednesday with lots of children in attendance.  I don’t know if it was planned this way, but it became a children’s celebration.  Herbie played children’s praise songs, all of us danced to the songs and played the musical (mostly percussion) instruments available.  Then the children made pictures of what it feels like to know that Jesus loves me (inspired by the song of the same name!).

The best part for me was when the children came around and prayed for us.  There was dinner brought in by the wonderful people who have committed to cooking for us, and it was a very fun evening.

Then I stayed to do another overnight shift in the Prayer Center.  I don’t know why, but the second time was harder than the first.  Several times I found myself struggling to find God’s presence (even though He’s always there!).  It was again only 3 of us, but this time without Herbie.

Although it was a more difficult night for prayer, it was a wonderful night for interpersonal relationships between the 3 of us.  There was Mi Kyong from Korea, who lives as an underground missionary in the 10/40 window.  I only personally know a few underground missionaries, but I have big, big respect for them and their courage.  Interestingly, Mi Kyong told me that in Korea, the churches treat missions as a call to suffering.  She said this while we were laughing and dancing with the children.  Mi Kyong loves children and when there is a child present, all her attention goes to the child—even if she was in the middle of a conversation.

The 3rd member of our trio for the night was Zeppi, a quiet little Maltese man with a speech impediment and a big heart.  I found out that Zeppi is short for Guzeppi, a Maltesination of the Italian name Giuseppe (Joseph).  When he was introduced to me, he shyly pulled out a sheet of paper, filled with single-spaced type on both sides.  It was his testimony of how he came to know Jesus, and it ended with his contact information and an invitation to get together over a cup of coffee.  Zeppi didn’t want either his shyness or his speech impediment to stop him from sharing Jesus.

While Mi Kyong and I worshiped and danced and prayed aloud, Zeppi sat and quietly prayed.  But when 2AM came, and we discussed going on a prayer walk, Zeppi became enthusiastic.  He loves Malta almost as much as he loves Jesus.  He took us pretty much on the same route that I had gone the first night.  But it was as much a guided tour as it was a prayer walk.  Zeppi showed us the pixkerija, which is pronounced a lot like the word pescheria, so when Mi Kyong said, “What?”  I told her it was the fish market.  Zeppi smiled, saying, “Yes, fish market!”  We looked into the fish market, but although there were fishermen, they were too busy or too uninterested to engage us in conversation beyond a simple hello.

My comment about the language similarity with Italian led Mi Kyong to comment that the Maltese words for hello and milk sound very much like Arabic.  Zeppi was almost leaping for joy, “Yes! Yes! Like Arabic!”  I was very surprised that Arabic had gotten a strong enough foothold on Malta to influence the language this way.  There is a multimedia show called The Malta Experience that I should probably go see while I’m here.  I have been told that of all the museums and historical/cultural shows, this is the best one.

We walked past a sign that said bocci club.  I stopped and commented that they play bocce (Italian spelling, pronounced BAH-chee) in Italy, and many Italian Americans play bocce.  I wondered aloud if bocce was Italian (as I had thought) or Maltese.  Zeppi said, “Maltese!  Maltese!”  I asked him if he plays bocce, but he said no.  It doesn’t surprise me because bocce is a very social game, involving gambling and probably drinking.  Most men who play it are very gregarious—just the opposite of Zeppi.

We prayed, walking through the center of Parliament Square, claiming it for the dance team.  This was the second time that I had done this, so I believe that if they want to do it, the dancers could dance in the square next time.

Then we walked back to the Prayer Center.  It was 4AM, and the rest of the night dragged on endlessly.  Mi Kyong curled up on a pillow, while Zeppi went to the kitchen to heat up another plate of pasta.  I put on some worship music, grabbed a set of little ceramic drums, and tried to keep time, but the beat kept slipping away.  At one point I dozed off and the drumstick slipped from my hand and clattered to the floor.  I jumped awake, thinking that I had dropped and broken the drums, but my left hand still held them tightly—which is surely a miracle.  I carefully set the drums on the floor and got up to pace instead.  But I was so physically wiped out that I considered grabbing a pillow and following Mi Kyong’s example.  I went to the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea, but cut it with cold water because even with the cooler night temperature, hot tea was not what I wanted.  Lukewarm tea failed to revive me, and it was clear that only several hours of sleep would fix what was wrong with me.

So sitting, standing, pacing, sitting again, all the time listening to worship music and trying to pray—this was how I passed the rest of the night.  When 6AM came, Mi Kyong and I discussed whether to go catch a bus back to the house.  Zeppi assured us that he would stay and keep watch until the morning shift arrived, which would be in about an hour.

I got about 6 hours of much-needed sleep.  When I woke up, the dance team was preparing to go to the Prayer Center for dinner, then on to teach a Prophetic Dance class at a local church.  I went with them on the ferry again.  After dinner, some of the overnighters were left, while others went with us to the church.  The class was great, and again included lots of children.  It was lots of fun, but I was simply too physically tired to do very much, so I left early and returned to the house.

One of the attendees at the dance class commented on how dance is frowned upon by her church.  It made me think of the story of David and Michal, and how she criticized him for dancing with joy because of bringing the ark back to Jerusalem.  Honestly, I would rather be a David than a Michal.  God is good!  I’ll sing it, I’ll dance it, and even drum it in my sleep!  God is good!

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