Written and photographed by World Vision photographer Chris Huber
Canon EOS 6D
16mm lens, 1/250th at f/2.8, 2500 ISO
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I cherish every opportunity to worship Jesus with fellow believers in other parts of the world. Since my late 20s, God has been revealing his heart for the nations to me through brothers and sisters from many tribes and tongues — from China to Lebanon; Alaska to Zambia.
That’s why this photo from a church in Bamako, Mali, is so special.
King David says it well in Psalm 67:4: “May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.”
Mali, a country of roughly 18 million people, is predominantly Muslim. About 2.4 percent profess Christianity. So when I got the chance to attend a church service in the capital city with a local World Vision coworker, I got excited.
And, of course, I brought my camera.
Worship and preaching at Bacodjicroni Assemblies of God Church are in French, so specifics of the songs and sermon were lost on me during the nearly three-hour service. Knowing Spanish helped me deal with some nuances on this hot and humid June morning.
I wanted to capture the essence of this church family’s life together: earnest Bible study before service; jubilant and expressive musical worship; a dynamic and convicting sermon; powerful and declarative prayer; joyful interactions among brothers and sisters in the in-between moments; and celebratory baptisms to encourage the growing family as they head back into the world at lunchtime.
As the worship band led in with another upbeat song halfway through the service, people organically started leaving their seats and dancing and singing toward the front of the room near the stage. Many of the children even were allowed to come down from the balcony to dance and sing with the adults. What I love about this moment is the abandon with which many people in this frame worship. Regardless of how their week went, their raised hands and dancing feet proclaim: God is always good and worthy of praise.
I revel at this moment. I might be moving through the crowd with a camera to my face. And I might not understand all the words of the song. But I’m smiling. I’m singing. I’m worshipping, too. This moment reminds me of what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 1:5, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.”
This means that we can worship Jesus even when we can’t understand the lyrics.