This is how the church looked for a long time.
Facing the front, there were windows on both sides of the room. The side to your right in this picture also had two doors, one on each end of the wall.
We would try to get there in time to sit by the window so that if the power went off we could still get some air! I always put my Bible up on the window sill. Then the Sunday before the flood I left the room quickly with our house guest who thought she was going to pass out. I never went back in to get it....the flood happened that week....I never saw that Bible again.
As you can see, it was pretty crowded with the choir there, the podium, and then....out the door. In this picture, it looks like nobody came to church, but by the end of a service, the church is packed. They had taken to moving the chairs closer and closer together until it got to the point that you couldn't even stand up, let alone do any dancing! So, the church began working on knocking out a wall and adding on to the building. But before they got that done, we had the flood and spent most of the next eight months meeting in a tent. It was ok, and we managed, and it was a good reminder that we don't have to have fancy to do church. But here in Niger, you definitely have to have shade to do church!
So, our first Sunday back in our church building, we were still facing the same direction as the photos above. But now the wall to the left was missing and construction was under way!
By Easter Sunday, just a few weeks after the two pictures just above, the roof was on the new addition. The way the room faced now rotated 90 degrees to the right. Now you can see that where the front of the church used to be was now the left side of the church. The windows that we used to try to sit by are now the front of the church. Right behind the choir in this picture was "our window". Since this picture was taken, the choir has moved to the left of the podium. We know have plenty of room for the musicians, there is a big space in front of the podium for when there are special presentations, and the chairs aren't squished so close together anymore.
Oh, and don't be fooled by those air conditioners up there. One has been taken out and I've never seen either of them turned on, anyway.
Then one Sunday we walked in and found that the walls had been painted (I'd never seen them anything but grey and white) and we had pretty wall hangings at the front. And when those curtains or whatever you want to call them get dirty, the women take them down and rehang them in a different way. I've never seen them rehung the same way twice. Somebody definitely has an interior decorator's skills! Take a look at the pictures below to see what can be done with drapery materials!
But there are other changes going on at our church that are much more important than the cosmetic changes! It's definitely nice to have more room and I appreciate a place that looks nice. But I've worshiped where we swept aside sheep poop and sat on a mat on the ground and I'm cool with that, too.
The really exciting thing that's happening is the emphasis our church is putting on missions. They've decided that they need to be a going and a sending church. When we left where we used to live, there was a second village where we had planted a church. We asked our church in Niamey if they could help with making sure that church wasn't forgotten. They have since done a great job on keeping in touch with that church and joining them for evangelism campaigns a few times a year. Now they have added a 2nd outpost and have plans for outreach in several quartiers here in Niamey. And just recently the church brought on board a full-time missions pastor and his wife. Now THAT's something to get excited about! The same Sunday that he was commissioned, the evangelism outposts were named (I've blurred the names for security reasons). Here are some pictures of that Sunday.
Please pray for our church as we get involved in missions and pray for our new missions' pastor and his wife. Pray that a good number of people will be involved in the different outreach ministries and not just assume the pastor can do it all. Pray that many in the church will give generously to missions and pray that the Holy Spirit will move among us and that everybody will be involved in some way!