Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In the Name of What?: The Africa Series

One thing I LOVE about the Central African culture is the importance of greetings. Arriving at a village where they know you are coming is the most fun. All the orphans, anticipating our arrival, swarm the vehicles, each one wanting to shake our hands and say “Bala-o”! It was a little difficult for me as I wanted to grab each child and give them a big hug…but a handshake has to suffice if you’re going to greet each person.

Whenever you are a guest, there is always an “official” greeting. For instances, whenever we (the American guests) entered a classroom, the orphans stood up, crossed their arms and recited an official greeting. In church, we were placed in the “special people section” and officially greeted from the pulpit. And whenever groups are exchanging greetings, thank-you’s, etc., or whenever a person is beginning a formal talk (like a sermon or presentation) it ALWAYS begins with a greeting that goes something like…”we greet you in the name of Jesus Christ”. Most goodbyes also include “please greet your family and church in the name of Jesus Christ.”

That seems significant to me. I greet a lot of people in a day, but I don’t ever greet them “in the name of Jesus Christ”. In fact, I have a LOT of conversations in a day that don’t include a word about Him, yet I would call Him my GOD. My Savior. My Lord.

As a matter of chat…

Do people matter to you? Enough that you would intentionally greet them? ALL of them? Does Jesus Christ matter to you? Enough that you talk about Him often in conversations? Do you identify with him regularly? Is He your Lord? Or just your Savior?