Oh Who Will Build the Church Now? Kanisa Litajengwa!
2020 was a year like no other. The challenges facing the church were unprecedented and historic. But I want people to know that despite all the loss and anxiety caused by the pandemic we will rebuild and we will recover. The enduring principle that All Are Called challenges us now more than ever to respond.
I love the hymn Kanisa Litajengwa. I remember singing this hymn at World Conference with Apostle Bunda Chibwe joyously leading the congregation and teaching us all the right moves.
The hymn asks: Oh who will build the church now? With what will we build it?
At World Conference after the Haiti earthquake, I met Michel Rozier, the leader of the Church in Haiti. He shared his testimony of his experience of the Haiti earthquake. He was driving with his family on the way to visit another church away from their home. They were in a rural stretch of road when the earthquake hit. At first they didn’t understand what was happening. His wife and children shouted out, the trembling continued and intensified, then he shouted out. When the shaking stopped, he decided to continue onward but his wife said “we must go home and see what has happened.” By the time he arrived at his home, there were 20 people gathered around his house looking for him. His home had collapsed. He heard story after story of those who lost their fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, sisters and brothers. And more people came to see if he was alive, soon 30, then 40, then 50, then 100. The Community of Christ had 30,000 members, 300 churches and Outreach International had 90 schools with some 9000 students at that time. No one knows exactly how many lives were lost. But the rebuilding began in faith, one day at a time. As they were working to rescue people, the people of Haiti sang hymns.
Let us take inspiration from the saints in Haiti. Their churches were destroyed by a powerful earthquake. Our churches have also been devastated by being closed and people falling out of practice. Church attendance is a spiritual discipline.
Oh who will build the church now? We’ll build it together!
Oh who will build the church now? Our mothers, our fathers!
Oh who will build the church now? The children, the grownups!
All Are Called to respond and answer the question: Oh who will build the church now?
I know that we can respond to the challenge to build the kingdom here in Lamoni Heartland Mission Center today. Our Lamoni Heartland Mission Center stewards responded to the pandemic by increasing their 2020 Worldwide Mission Tithes by $34,000, a 13% year-over-year increase. That kind of strength and commitment, even during the pandemic, and at the same time that our contributors have rallied together to save our campgrounds, is just one of the reasons why I am confident that we can respond to the challenge to build the kingdom here in Lamoni Heartland Mission Center today.
As we observe the last day in the season of Easter this glorious Eastertide we are assured of resurrection. Not only will we be resurrected in faith as our Lord Jesus Christ was risen from the dead on the third day, but we will resurrect the church in the present, in the hear and now of where we live, in the congregations and communities of Lamoni Heartland Mission Center. Community of Christ, as we stand in the presence of our resurrected Savior, as we anticipate the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, let us renew our faith and forge our commitment to build the church in mission to the most vulnerable among us.
Oh who will build the church now? Lamoni Heartland!