Skip to main content

A Wedding

Can you imagine if you were the first in your family or in your town to buck tradition and do things a new way? I'm talking about things that just aren't negotiable. That would take a certain amount of courage and bravery, don't you think? You would really need to be convicted that what you are doing is right and that it is something that God would want you to do.

Recently we attended a wedding that was the first Christian wedding to take place in that area. There are other Christian marriages, but the couples were either not Christians when they married or they were married outside that area. To make things even more interesting, the bride and groom had never even seen a Christian wedding. It's possible the groom had seen a western-style wedding on TV or video as he has done a fair bit of traveling. But keep in mind that their village doesn't even have electricity so they have seen little TV in their lives.

So how do you do a Christian marriage that is definitely Christian but is allowed to keep traditions that aren't contrary to the Word of God? I want you to know that this wedding took a great deal of advanced planning and council from different people as well as discussions with both the bride, the groom, and their families.

Here in Niger, at least in rural areas which is all I know about, the bride and groom don't show up to the marriage ceremony. There are usually two parts: the "tying of the book" in which the families agree that this couple are married and the bride price, etc. is agreed upon. Their uncles do this arrangement at the mosque while the women gather together at home waiting to hear the news that the marriage has been agreed to. The bride is sequestered in the back room of the house with her girlfriends. Who knows where the groom is? Then, usually later but sometimes the same day, the bride is brought to the groom's house. Again, the bride is sequestered and then is taken under cover to the groom's house. The friends and family celebrate, but the bride and groom are not in the middle of the celebrations!

So this was highly unusual to have the bride and groom come out in public.

The friends and family sat on mats and benches in the shade of a huge neem tree. All family and friends were invited. It was nice that it was outside so nobody felt excluded. We sang some songs while the bride and groom came to the gathering (can't really say "came in" since we were all outside; can't say "came down the aisle" because there wasn't one). The idea was for her parents and the representatives from his family to come in and then the bride and groom. But her entire extended family came in together. I really liked that because solidarity and community is extremely important here.Here in Niger, and especially in rural areas, engaged couples do not show displays of affection in public. So, the bride sat turned away from her groom and the groom sat with his head down to show respect and humbleness. None of this indicates that they don't like each other.

First, John gave an excellent message on marriage. He preached in French and it was translated into Songhai.Then the pastor from our church in Niamey had them stand up to exchange vows. He asked them the usual vows and also one that is done here in Niger....will you stay with each other even if there are no children? The culture here allows for divorce if the wife doesn't produce any children. During weddings brides and grooms are meant to look serious and not be silly to show the importance of the occasion. But the groom just couldn't keep the smile off his face.

The pastor and others who came from Niamey wanted the bride and groom to kiss, but we said that just isn't done in public here and it would be a highly uncomfortable situation for the bride and groom as well as for those watching. Even holding hands would cause some embarassment, but he did get them to do that. They also exchanged rings. We don't believe that the Bible says a couple needs to have rings, but the symbolism of never-ending love that is found in a ring is a good one. Look at the little girl on the ground behind them!
The pastor then blessed the couple and they knelt and the elders and pastors who were present laid their hands on them.

Because the bride is still very young, they will not live together for another year or two. As I mentioned above, this is not at all unusual here in Niger. The couple are married .... it's very much like Joseph and Mary in the Bible. They were married, but not living together at the time of Jesus' conception. Mary also was probably very young when her marriage to Joseph took place. (I love how the culture here makes the Bible come alive!)

Pulling this wedding together caused John a lot of stress for reasons I can't go into here. But in the end it was God-honoring and beautiful in its simplicity. Some young people from one of the churches were there....they also have never seen a Christian wedding, so we pray this will set the trend for many of them. Those who attended seemed to really enjoy and appreciate the wedding and I think it was a great testimony for Christ.

Here are a few more shots from the wedding day:Don't you love all the colors?


Comments

Katie Barker said…
What a beautiful story!
Palmer said…
Love getting insights into how things are done there! Great story and photos!

Popular posts from this blog

Practice Hospitality

My mother-in-law, Jean, is an amazing person with many gifts.  One of the first things I noticed about her when I was but a young bride, was her gift of hospitality.  It was nothing for her to invite a large group of people over, make each one feel welcome, cook a big meal,and seemingly do it without stressing herself out.  I don't know if hospitality just came naturally to her or if she learned it.  In this picture you can see Jean throwing a party for a class she taught in Nigeria.  




I believe that for me it has been a learned skill.  My parents were hospitable and it wasn't unusual for us to have guests over (though usually not as many at a time as my mother-in-law would do!).  But when I started living on my own, I had to learn hospitality.  The first time I invited somebody over for a meal, the lid got stuck on the pot of vegetables, I put too much salt or soda or something in the muffins, and I forgot to serve milk and sugar with the hot drinks.  I've gotten much bett…

Meat Roll-ups

Tonight I made meat roll-ups.  And I got to use some ingredients that made food prep much easier than normal!  I did make two batches of rolls so that John could have a lactose-free meal.

The first thing to do is to brown some hamburger.  With the main batch I stirred a tin of mushroom soup into the browned meat.  For John's batch, I stirred in flour, some almond milk, and seasonings just enough to moisten it, but not to make it really runny.  In Niger, I would make it the second way since we don't have tinned soup.

Next I made a batch of biscuit dough using Bisquick.  Of course, in Niger, I have to make the biscuit dough from scratch.  I mixed it up with the almond milk.  Once the dough is rolled out in a strip, spread the meat mixture on it.  Roll it up like you would cinnamon rolls and cut into slices.  Lay the slices on a cookie sheet and cook in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes.



While they're baking, I browned fresh mushrooms in butter (in Niger I would use tinned mushroo…

Happenings in November

Well, here we are, more than half way through December, and I'm just now getting around to telling you about November.  It was a fun, busy, and eventful month.  We were still on vacation and we got in a lot of good family time during the month.

We were still in Ohio with Suz and Theo at the beginning of the month.  Suz and Theo were working hard to get Hezekiah to gain weight.  He kept losing weight for the first few weeks of his life, but he's doing great now.  We tried to spend as much time as possible with Tera so Suzanne could concentrate on adjusting to the new baby ... but mostly just because we wanted to and we enjoy her so much.  





We also tried to get in as many baby snuggles as we could.



Whenever we are in the area, my dad's cousin, Jeanne, invites us for a meal. She is actually closer to me in age than to my dad, so I've always just considered her a cousin and don't try to figure out if she's a second cousin or a first cousin once removed.  Whatever the …