In the Lectionary

April 12, Easter Day (Acts 10:34–43; Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24; Matthew 28:1–10)

What kind of faith gets you through 25 years in a refugee camp?

The choir director at the church where I serve has unusual credentials. She used to lead a large choir in the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania. She grew up there herself: her extended family fled from violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then spent almost 25 years in Tanzania before resettlement in San Diego in 2016. I met Matrida that fall, when she arrived at St. Luke’s with her two young children and her voice that moves worshipers to tears, whether or not they understand Swahili or Kibembe.

Matrida also leads a band, which recently held a Congolese gospel concert at the church on a Saturday night. The diverse audience cheered as the dancers moved in unison, and my own voice rose unbridled when her nine-year-old son temporarily took center stage. It was a victory cry—let’s just say he hasn’t received a lot of positive attention at school since his US arrival.

The next day, a white congregant in his seventies said he couldn’t stop wondering about the concert: What kind of faith gets you through 25 years in a refugee camp singing God’s praises? What kind of faith has you dancing and writing new songs about Jesus as you pick flowers and paint ships to try to make rent? What kind of faith is this?