“Pray for them,” were the words whispered inaudibly into my heart as I was sitting in an unfamiliar church on Saturday night, in a country I’ve only barely begun to know, listening to a service in a language I don’t speak. I didn’t know who I should be praying for, why I should be praying, or what words I should be praying, but I prayed anyway—despite my unknowing mind and uncomfortable spirit.
My prayer came from my heart and not my mind, because the only thing I knew was this feeling I had—an assurance from God that He already knew and my prayer would be heard.
While my heart was still speaking, I heard the sound of dozens of people speaking this language I didn’t understand. Startled, I bolted upright from the hunched over position I had taken, opened my eyes, and looked up. People were gathered in the front kneeling, while others had their hands on them—praying what I imagine was the same prayer I had just prayed. There was barely a dry eye in the room. Something incredibly powerful was happening, and, because of my inability to understand the words being spoken, all I could do was sit back, pray, and watch it unfold in front of my own tear-filled eyes.
In that moment, I felt love being poured into the unknown people I had just been praying for, and I felt love being poured into me from those very same people. In that moment, I felt united with all the people in that room despite our inability to understand each other. I felt that God had somehow worked through me to touch someone in that room in the same way He had worked through all of them to somehow touch me. The love we were sharing with one another was universal—a language that knows no boundaries, no barriers, and no limits.
When I went to a similar church the next evening, in the same country, with some of the same people, I remembered there was an option for translation. This time, I could understand the words being spoken. But, I chose not to use it. I chose not to use it because I remembered that feeling from the night before—the feeling of love and unity despite my discomfort and inability to understand. I wanted to feel that again, and I wanted to listen for God’s voice in my uncomfortable. Because God works in your uncomfortable. He speaks to you when you don’t know. And while I continue on this adventure, I want to remember the unity found in love’s ability to surpass understanding as I am reminded that, no matter where I am or what language is being spoken, God is working. So, I am allowing myself—no, forcing myself—to become uncomfortable, to not know. Because not knowing does not mean not understanding. And sometimes, by understanding your uncomfortable, God reminds you of His love which surpasses understanding.
Susan Richardson · May 14, 2018 at 6:58 pm
That is beautiful Rebekah!! Thank you for sharing!
Rebekah Distaffen · May 14, 2018 at 11:07 pm
Thanks! I’ve really enjoyed sharing my experiences so far. And, I’ve loved getting to experience, hear, and read about all Kayla’s experiences too! It’s been a great trip so far and I cant’ wait to see what the next days bring.
Ellen Haskins · May 18, 2018 at 1:24 pm
The very first trip Roger and I took to Brasil, I can still remember the amazing power of the Holy Spirit in the services. The people held nothing back in worship, prayer and fellowship. The verse, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” had come to life before my eyes and heart.
Rebekah Distaffen · May 20, 2018 at 2:13 am
I had forgotten you and Roger had been to Brazil many times! I wish I had sat down and listened to more of your stories before I left, but we will have to exchange some once I return! One of my favorite things about this service, and it reminds me of the services I went to in Kenya when I was over there too, is exactly what you said– the Holy Spirit is so present. It’s genuine, beautiful worship like I have never seen. It’s amazing to see, and realize that the same God is being praised as the one we praise. it always gives me a new perspective on my own worship and always reminds me not to hold anything back