Today is Valentine’s Day, and what better reason for a feast, fellowship and celebration than to celebrate our community that has gathered and become one because of the One who first loved us? So we had a Valentine’s Day party last night at Mama Tembo’s home.
I arrived in the afternoon surprised and excited by the scene painted before me. There were a couple people hanging out in the office, by far the quietest place on campus. Several were up in the guest house where the cleaning (the goat, ducks, chickens and doves) and cooking of our feast was taking place. I headed that way but didn’t make it, as I was distracted by the ongoing soccer game in the lawn. It was great to watch them as even Papa joined in the friendly (albeit intense) game. I eventually walked through the dance party in the garage and made my way to the pool to find the same thing: contagious joy.
Despite the incredible fellowship and contagious joy and laughter throughout the evening, my favorite part of the day came at its close. As dinner was finished, Freddy began to DJ and began playing songs as shout-outs to different groups. “This one goes out to Zambia!” he proclaimed as he turned up the music. It was a familiar song to many, and soon the 5 students from Zambia were all up and dancing. It was only a matter of time before others joined them as well, perhaps encouraged to do so when even Mama Pastor (Tembo) got up to join them. By the end of the song, half the group was up and dancing, but it took them so long it was quickly decided we should play the same song again.
The song repeated and people continued to join the circle. Then, in the middle of the song and completely unexpectedly (there were not even storms to speak of!), all power went out. The music stopped, the singing quickly faded and you could feel the movement of the air grow stale as no dancing remained. The silence hung heavy in the air as no one moved or spoke a sound.
As if out of no where, a voice began to sing, picking up the song where it had left off. Before anyone knew what was happening, almost everyone had gotten on their feet to celebrate together in the darkness. One song turned into many as songs of praise and worship were lifted higher, louder and more melodically than they had been all night. It was a sight to see - or more appropriately - hear.
It was unlike any other worship we had shared together before. Rather than fearing darkness, it was embraced. It was almost as if we were safer together in the darkness, without light to shine over our brokenness or fears. The only light to shine in the group was the metaphorical light shinning from each person in the circle, and yet it may well have been the brightest light I have ever seen in my life. As our eyes adjusted and our dancing eventually slowed, we closed with passionate prayer and thanksgiving to our God who has shown us again today the many ways to find light in the darkest of places.
An incredible physical reminder of why we are here and who we are here to serve. How great is our God to shine so brightly in such a small, dark place!?