We led a group of fathers and missionaries on a trip to Kigoma, Tanzania to a village in a very remote area to pray during Holy Week and celebrate the Easter liturgy. Upon arriving, we were greeted by hundreds of Tanzanian Copts who welcomed the group while singing along the road. The area is affected by a great deal of poverty, there is no electricity or running water, yet the people were cheerful and extremely hospitable as they held up crosses and pictures of various saints.
Throughout the week Pascha services were prayed at St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, both during the morning and evening. In addition to this, we had several Bible studies, community meetings, and meetings with the church committee. The visitors also met with the youth and children daily throughout the week. Every evening there was a movie shown depicting the life of Christ leading up to the Resurrection and every evening the church was full of hundreds of children and adults, both church members and those who gathered from neighboring villages who came to learn more about Jesus Christ.
During this time, you could feel God’s presence as the church was full at all times, the congregations were eager to hear God’s word and offer praise. At the end of the week, His Grace Bishop Paul ordained a new priest, Father Paul, a deacon who had been serving amongst his people in Kigoma for several years. The congregation rejoiced in this event greatly.
Our visit concluded by celebrating the Easter liturgy. Again, villagers traveled to the church as it was filled to maximum capacity. The congregation was joyful and celebrated Christ’s resurrection and their salvation with a great deal of singing that continued even after Holy Communion throughout the whole night. It was truly a blessing to be able to focus solely on Christ’s sufferings and sacrifices during Passion week and then to be able to rejoice and celebrate His resurrection and our Salvation with the enthusiasm and gratitude of our brothers and sisters in this village.