Rebecca Wendland ’96 helps her husband, Pastor Robert Wendland WLS ’98, serve the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (LCCA) in Malawi. Rebecca designated half of her $1000 prize to the LCCA. This is the eleventh annual Thalassa Prize.
When I turned my head, I saw dozens of blinking eyes. Kids. Lots of them. They were crowding around and pushing forward trying to see. It wasn’t to stare at a screen. They came to worship.
Bursting-at-the-seams church services in Malawi, Africa, aren’t unusual. A church celebration is a highlight in village life. People dress their best. They walk hours and cover many kilometers to attend. For what? Dirt floors, brick walls, cement benches. It’s really God’s Word that people spend their whole Sunday to hear.
As I attended a special church event in a southern Malawi village, I was introduced to a dozen respected chiefs who traveled from nearby villages for the occasion. They were escorted to plastic chairs at the front. National pastors were also ushered to chairs. It wasn’t long before I was surprisingly offered a chair. What an honor. Sitting was a special privilege. That seat was my secured space for the next several hours while anthems were sung and sermons were preached. I looked around. The church was absolutely packed. Hundreds of people were crammed shoulder to shoulder sitting on benches or on the floor. Hundreds more were crowded into the doorways, standing, leaning, and straining to listen and participate.
It was a day of sharing Jesus and our hope in heaven. Scripture proclaims that believers can confidently look forward to their guaranteed place in heaven. John 14:2-3: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Worship in heaven will no doubt transcend brick obstacles.
I look forward to the day I will sit or stand shoulder to shoulder with countless believers gathered from around the world to worship in our Savior’s presence. It will truly be a heavenly “place of honor” praising God together, forever.