Chapel in The Woods
Every mission trip has some surprising moments that inspire me. Pastor Cezila invited me to preach to a small group of people he has weekly services for up in the mountains. No problem. Pastor Cezila lives in a small agricultural town surrounded by mountains. They grow strawberries, potatoes, coffee, corn and all kinds of produce. The soil up in the mountains is even richer. A number of large farms operate in these remote highlands.
It was getting dark as we headed up the mountain. Half and hour, low gear, climbing, curve after curve, starting to feel a bit sick. Then we turned onto a dirt road with holes, wash outs...barely passable in our car. This was really remote, like back woods Appalachia wilderness totally in the dark. We would occasionally pass faint lights in the woods assuring me there were people living up here. As we neared our destination, we occasionally passed people walking the pitch black road with a flashlight. Then we turned off road into the woods onto a 2 parallel foot paths drive which opened up in a cleared grassy field. There I saw in the head beams a little chapel. Hard to believe there was a chapel out here in the middle of nowhere.
We were the first ones there. The key was on the sill of the stained glass window next to the door. Let yourself in. I couldn’t believe this beautiful chapel, quaint old world design, immaculately clean, fresh picked wildflowers in a vase on the alter. Then folks started straggling in. They all walked in the dark to get there. Farm workers come to their only social gathering if the week - church. I had an impressive sermon prepared, but decided to ditch it when I greeted these earthy folks. I read Psalm 90. These people knew all about the seasons coming and going, crop after crop, the rhythms of life. From generation to generation, God is there and they come to meet Him in their chapel. The cross wasn’t mounted on the wall, it was permanent, made of glass blocks IN the wall.
It’s the permanent message of the Gospel they came there to hear week after week. God is permanent. He sent Jesus who welcomes and bring salvation to them all. Here the days of their lives connect with the God of eternity - Psalm 90:12. For an hour, they had community with each other, sang, prayed, hugged, and then waked off into the dark of night for another week.
We drove back. Where I live in the suburbs of Houston, we all have cars. If it is too hot, too cold, rainign too hard or our favorite team is playing, we are likely to stay home and miss that time with God and our Christian family. I was amazed and insired as I watched these simple Christians walking home through the woods in the dark, Bible in one hand and fashlight in the other.
I was surprised and genuinely inspired.