So, last week I had quite an experience at an Anglican Church here in Accra, which I won’t recap here, but you can read about it a couple blog posts down. Well, it’s a week later and I’m 12 hours away from jumping into a taxi and heading across town back to that same church, this time to preach. To be honest with you, I’m pretty stressed out and would love your prayers.
Why am I stressing you ask?
Top 10 Reasons I’m Stressing about Church Tomorrow
10. I’m always stressed before I preach. It’s a scary thing to get up in front of a crowd of people and hope something appropriate comes out of my mouth. What you thought that because I am a preacher that I’m not frightened of preaching? No way!
9. I am in Ghana. I have never preached in Ghana. Have you?
8. I have a thick Obroni (white man) accent. Will they understand me?
7. I am a white man from America trying to talk about human trafficking in West Africa, namely, in the former Gold Coast- as in the epicenter of the transatlantic slave trade- the departure point for the infamous middle-passage. The historical ramifications of this and the potential foot-in-mouth pitfalls that this creates daunt me. I must put on piles of humility when I get dressed in the morning.
6. I have to leave my house by 5:30am to get across town for a 6am clergy meeting to begin the first worship service at 6:15am. I don’t own a car. I called the taxi driver that brought me home from church last Sunday. He says he’s coming. Do you think he’s really coming? I honestly don’t know. If he doesn’t come, how easy will it be for me to find another taxi at that time on a Sunday morning?
5. My sermon is supposed to be only 20 minutes long. 25 Max. If you’ve ever heard me preach, well, you’ve never heard me preach for only 20 minutes. Peaching long is easy. Preaching short takes massive discipline and focus. I have about an hour’s worth of material. Hmm.
4. I just realized that 50% of my time will be my new friend Reggie translating my English words into Ga. That means I actually have only 10-12.5 minutes. Doh!!!
3. I don’t know the people to whom I will preach. It is so much easier when you are preaching to your own church family. You know them. They know you. There is a relationship. I know that they will know when I am joking. It’s like home-field advantage in a sports game. The only thing the folks of this wonderful congregation know about me is that I messed up a lot last week with routine liturgical procedures, necessitating the head guy saying, “They worship differently in Matt’s church.”
2. I’m afraid they will expect me to do more liturgical things tomorrow that I am unprepared for. Come on Reggie! You’re my lead-blocker in this. If I’m expected to chant- I hope you jump up and chant for me. If I’m expected to do the incense- I need an assist.
1. I haven’t finished writing my sermon. Hmm… hmm… maybe I should stop blogging and work on it. There’s a thought. Gotta run!
p.s. But before I go, since I’ve laid out all the reasons I have for stress and fear, I should also name the reason I have for hope, confidence, and courage:
My Lord Jesus has seen me through much worse than this moment and I am still standing. The Lord has used me when I was much weaker to do strong things. He has never abandoned me. He has always carried me. And the reason I preach is not because I like it or because I’m good at it or because I’m unafraid. I preach because I have found that Christ uses me in this particular way to build up His people and Glorify His Name. I delight in that.
Please pray for me. I am going alone because the service is so early in the morning, so long (2 services running from 6:15am to 1pm), and so far away. My family and boss will come for the later service, but I will head out alone before dawn for the first. I would be very much encouraged to hear from some of you that you will be praying for me. I know that Christ will be with me, but I also experience the nearness of Christ through the presence of His people and their prayers and encouragement. Thanks for reading. Please drop me a line in the comments section.
Update (4 hours later): Thanks for your prayers dear friends. I believe you that you are praying because I feel in a completely different place now. I have been feeling a breakthrough in my heart as I begin to focus less on myself and my own feelings and my own fears and even my own “material”, and more on the people, and their best interest, and the hope and help God has for them. I am now so fired up to preach tomorrow that I might not be able to sleep!