The first group to sing was from Malaysia. As did each group, the ladies of Malayisa sang in their own native tongue with movement and dancing that is customary in their worship. So for this posting, you can find pictures of people groups, as well as the interpretation of their singing.
Next came the Eastern and Western African group. We learned that the Gospel first came to the entire continent of Africa in the 1500’s. Now many African countries are primarily Christian by faith, including, but not limited to, Ethiopia (65%), Southern Sudan, Chad (34%), Nigeria (51%). PCO has a large number of members from Eastern, Western, and Southern parts of Africa.
Our British Anglican Pastor, Chris Howitz, greeted us in Arabic, while wearing traditional Omani dress. The scripture reading for the day was read in Arabic, but translated as well.
The prayer time was very special as people from different continents and cultures came together to pray not only for our local people and leaders here in Oman, but also for concerns of people in their home country. The concerns range from hunger to war to political and economic upheaval, to spiritual darkness. This was indeed a highlight of the service.
The people of India came next. India is the 7th largest country in the world by land mass, but the 2nd largest county in terms of population, second only to China. India is primarily a Hindu and Muslim country, but 5% of the people are Christians and mostly live in the southern part of the country. The Apostle Philip is credited for first bringing the Gospel to India in the 1st century.
Pastor Barry Dawson, who will be returning to Southeast Asia to serve later this month, presented today’s sermon.
Following the service, four more people groups presented songs and dances that were more a part of their culture than a part of their worship, as their worship is very similar to what enjoy each Friday at PCO. Yet their presentations were very entertaining.
Next came the people of the Philippines. Their country is 85% Christian, by faith, and represents the highest concentration of Christian faith in their part of the world. The Gospel was first introduced to their country by Spaniards in the 1500’s.
One of the men who serves faithfully in the church band (playing saxophone and bongos) is represented below. He represented South America (Colombia if not mistaken) and wore the traditional white straw hat and played jazz music that you would commonly hear in the streets of Bogota.
Next came the South Africans. They performed traditional singing and dancing that is common in their area. They also wore traditional wardrobes from this very diverse country. The four girls spent some time going through a series of traditional dance steps that involves stomping to rhythms (think louder tap dancing in big rubber boots) and hitting the boots in various positions in a very entertaining fashion.
For me personally, one of the highlights was the Scottish dance. We are blessed to have a man who has served in the British military as a Bag Pipe Player and is now teaching the skill at the local university. In fact, he has played his pipes in some life threatening situations that give you an appreciation for Ian as a man of courage and principle. On this particular Friday, however, we find that Ian has trained not only one of the young local Omani men to play the pipes, he has taught some of our church members how to do the traditional Scottish dances, complete with swords and uniforms.
They entered from the rear of the sanctuary, with pipes blowing (dare I say loudly??) and everyone’s attention was drawn not only to the bagpipes, but to the four dancers – each wielding a long sword. They solemnly proceeded to the stage and arranged the swords in a cross shape. Then they began to dance to a number of traditional Scottish tunes. When finished, they solemnly picked up the swords and exited to a large applause.