Have you ever wondered what a baby dedication looks like in Africa? Traditionally, they are called "coming out" for in this culture the mother and baby stay in the house for one week. At one week they leave the house to a party and naming ceremony. Traditionally these parties would include a ceremony to the ancestors and a sacrifice of some sort.
The Christians here in Catel have kept the tradition of staying in the home and coming out after a week. There is still a party and they name the child, but instead of a ceremony to idols it is now a baby dedication.
The church here has started naming their children with Biblical names. This party which has friends and family, is now a witnessing tool. We share why we do this dedication, the baby's name and significance of the name as well as read scripture. It allows our church families to witness to their family and friends, read scriptures to Muslim family members, pray, and sing. All the while respecting and holding on to the parts of the culture that are important and unique to their tribal culture.
In this picture Michael stands with Djibi (in the middle) and Adramane (on the left) while they are praying over the baby and reading scripture about his name, Jonathon. I have had the privilege of naming several babies that have been born into our church family since living here. Each name has been a biblical person and it has provided an opportunity of teaching the significance of that person in the Bible. Sometimes the name has been tied directly to what is going on in our village. For example, during a recent time of trials in the village (written about in the blog titled "Power of Prayer) a baby from our church family was born in the midst. We gave him the name Jeremiah in hopes that he would be a light with a message to share with the people of this village.
At the end of the baby dedication the women sing some worship songs. This is also another way to reach others as the songs speak biblical truths.
The rest of the day is spent sitting around waiting for the rice dish to be cooked and served. There is usually someone getting their hair braided, music with dancing, hot tea and milk being cooked by the men and passed around, and women in the back of the house cooking all while children are running all over the place playing. We are usually all exhausted by the time lunch is served around 5:00 p.m. and head home shortly afterward, usually being the first to leave, but never empty handed, guests are typically given a can of pop to go home with.
That is how we spent our day today. So as I write this we have just put our children to bed at 8:15 and now Karen and I are collapsing into bed exhausted.
Please continue to pray for these church families as they have adapted the coming out party. Pray it can be a witnessing tool to bring others into the light.