So I went to an Evangelical Church in Bissau

I've mentioned before that Guinea Bissau is a black hole on the internet. But for a series of grim statistics, there is no real information about what the country is like, or who even really lives here. Before arriving, I took a look at the stats and the holiday calendar and was convinced I was moving to a country where Islam would be the most practiced religion. Given the number of potential bacon bit running around town eating trash, and the sheer number of churches, I am beginning to think I may be wrong. I don't know that I'll ever know the answer -- the country is notoriously bad at producing/analyzing stats of any kind. But I do know that hearing Brazilian evangelical music blasting from one of the largest radio stations in Bissau while lounging by a hotel pool is a weird sign of how strong people's faith is here.

Anyone who knows me knows that I was raised Catholic and that I view most strains of Happy Clappy protestantism with deep suspicion. That said, I'm not a rude person, so when the family that hosted me my first weeks asked me to go to church with them, I agreed. The Igreja Evangélica em Santa Luzia was a happy place set up in a makeshift structure, with fans humming overhead and a constant reshuffling of seating arrangements as more and more people squeezed into the packed room. The people were friendly, warm and welcoming, and the worship was largely interactive. I missed most of it because it was in rapid fire Creole, but the woman who brought me was kind enough to translate the most important bits.

In the end, the

music is what kept me going

, and the lack of structure, (and of that much teaching) is what lost me. There was a never ending succession of Pastors climbing to the pulpit to speak and when the announcements came smack dab in the middle of the service, I thought it was almost over. The announcements showed an extremely well organized and structured community of believers who band together to help neighbors and people in need. In a country like Guinea Bissau, where goods and services are few in the capital, and virtually non-existent out of it, I'd love to learn more about how churches work to fill the void.

I hurried out before it was over to go to the beach with friends, but if the happy look on my hosts' face means anything, I'm sure I'll be heading back at some point.

There are enough Christians here for the Bible to be printed in Creole...

Different pastors took turns preaching from the pulpit

Joanna BusbyComment