Glorious Worship in Côte d’Ivoire

4/27/2015

By Kathy L. Gilbert, United Methodist News Service

Rufine Yéi Sess Bottis (left) and her daughter Fidelia, 15,  live in Sipilou, Côte d'Ivoire. They prepared lunch and sang for guests visiting from U.S., Geneva and Abidjan.
Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Rufine Yéi Sess Bottis (left) and her daughter Fidelia, 15, live in Sipilou, Côte d'Ivoire. They prepared lunch and sang for guests visiting from U.S., Geneva and Abidjan.

It’s always warm, even before adding the heavy, dark choir and clergy robes, the long-sleeve shirts under wool suit jackets, the long, beautiful dresses with elaborate headgear.

But it doesn’t really get hot until worship starts.

Wait until the music and singing and clapping and dancing and PREACHING starts. Then everybody really works up a sweat.

Every little thing about worship is glorious.

The offering can become an hour-long celebration as each person dances forward to drop whatever they have in the basket or plate or cracked pot. Not just once. Lines start, every person drops their tithes in and then they get back in line and give their offerings. Then they give more for special collections for the church or community.

On this Sunday at Temple Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Man, Côte d’Ivoire, the pastor encourages generous giving, “Through this offering we are bringing our hearts and lives. Please take them so it can be used for your Kingdom.”

What you have here is church. Church in Africa.

And it doesn’t just happen on Sunday morning. Sometimes it happens long into the night on a Wednesday or early in the morning on a Thursday.

Sometimes it happens in a small hut at a mid-day meal seasoned with the sweet sounds of a mother and daughter singing about Jesus.

Worship could start with a brass band circling the community. Inside might be two or three choirs in robes and mortarboards held on by sparkling hair pins. Or it could be three or four young people with a drum fashioned out of a piece of wood and shakers made of rusty biscuit tins.

God is present. God is worshipped.

When they sing, “Come, Come See How I Praise My God,” they really mean it.

Visitors are always greeted with exuberance and kindness.

I was greeted and loved by many Christians in Côte d’Ivoire during a trip to the country from United Methodist Communications in late January.

Thank you for your gracious hospitality:

  • Temple Bethel United Methodist Church in Abobo-Baoule, outside Abidjan
  • United Methodist Church in Sassandra
  • Rufine Yéi Sess Bottis and her daughter, Fidelia, 15, in Spilou. 
  • Temple Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Man