Business came to a grinding halt for most of the day here in Dzuwa. A child, I believe preteen was buried. She died after a short illness. A few of us at Joy to the World Ministries, went to attend the funeral. It was quite sad...and I could not bring myself to take any pictures - largely out of respect, but also because it just didn't feel right. I got the picture attached to this post from the internet.
Funerals in Africa are quite a big deal. They pretty much involve the whole village. It doesn't matter whether you personally knew or were related to the deceased or not. When there is a funeral in the village, you are expected to attend - and for the most part, you want to attend. How can you not? You are part of the village. The same applies for weddings.
So you can imagine the numbers at each funeral. There are always a lot of people. We all go to support and mourn with the bereaved family. Often, nothing more than your presence is what is wanted, needed and required. But of course, people contribute food in form of maize flour, some goats, some chickens, etc. Some contribute money to help cover funeral expenses.
There is a lot of mourning and wailing. To the "untrained" ears, this can be quite disturbing and sometimes even traumatizing. But that's how we express our grief for the loss and sympathize with the bereaved.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear what I thought was very good preaching from an unlikely church denomination which shall remain unnamed for obvious reasons. There were two pastors who came to preach at the funeral. One preached from Numbers 32:23 and Jeremiah 2:19 at the village before we took the body to the graveyard. The other preached at the graveyard from Genesis 28:10-17, especially verse 16 and Deuteronomy 30 especially verse 19. Both powerful speakers and powerful preachers. They were both very engaging and true to the Word. The texts that were faithfully handled and both messages were relevantly convicting and changing. Praise the Lord for such powerful preaching of God's Word. I should also mention that the messages were deeply stirring - a common characteristic of African preaching (but I digress).
I am glad that I went to the funeral today even though it was and remain a sad time for the bereaved family. When I was younger (late teens early 20's), I used to fight my mom who pretty much wanted me to go to every funeral near wherever we happened to be living at any given time. I had my own arguments and excuses for not wanting to go to funerals. I won't go into all that except to say, they were all quite lame. But I think I can say that the Lord has been doing a great work in my heart on this front. Today, was an example of that. No-one asked me to go. I didn't have to go. But I wanted to go because the Bible says, "It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart" (Ecclesiastes 7:2). To the LORD be all the praise, glory and honour through Jesus Christ, our Saviour! Amen!