February 19, 2007 Matthew

A Greasy Church in Germany

I made friends with a guy from Cameroon who is here studying Biology. How long he will remain in Germany, he doesn’t know, but he is good company and we are helping each other with language (German for me, English for him).

Yesterday we both visited for the first time an African church in the city. It was small with around 50 members who came from all over Africa–Kenya, Nigeria, West Africa, etc. Most everything about it was typical for African-style church services right down to the grueling two and a half hour service.

The African pastor showed much interest in me (being of an unusual demographic for his church, I presume) and I was invited to hang out with him. I decided to share various struggles of understanding church and understanding God with him and he appeared as though he knew exactly what I was going through. I was invited to come back again for a service on another Sunday afternoon. When I went back I was compelled to receive a little prayer from the pastor. Now in the Bible there are references to a symbolic act of “anointing with oil” certain people who needed a bit of healing or restoration in their lives. This typically alluded to a small vial of lovely fragrant oils like frankincense or myrrh which were dabbed on a person’s forehead. This pastor had neither. What he did happen to have was a bottle of cooking oil that was anything but fragrant and when he pulled it out as he started praying for me, my eyes widened. He then proceeded to pour it into his hands and then smear it all over my head. Not satisfied with the coverage (perhaps more was needed just to make sure) he smeared even more all over my head and then rubbed it in thoroughly. I was getting a full-on cooking-oil salon treatment. Not a hair on my head was left un-greased. Feeling just a little bit gross I quickly disappeared from the scene, went directly home, and took a shower.

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