A new culture
A motley congregation of African, European and Caribbean descent gather in an old Protestant church. French, English and local African languages can be heard. There is singing, cheering, music and preaching. Children and adults wear elaborate dresses and smart suits. The sermon is also in several languages, but a girl passionately translates everything simultaneously into English. Hallelujah. We thank you for everything, oh Lord.
Most of the churchgoers are migrants working in low-paid jobs as garbage collectors, cleaners and shop assistants. But here they stand in all their glory, thanking this country and the Lord for the opportunities they have been given and thanking the moment they chose this God. Many did not find religion until later in life; they call themselves born-again Christians. It is a small but dedicated community. Some attend church up to four times a week. “We are a temple but also a cultural centre,” says one of the pastors, who works as a cleaner for the local council. “We are so many cultures that together are creating a new culture here. It’s God’s plan that we meet here and help each other. We are together and I am the shepherd. I am the shepherd of all these people. I know how to do God’s work.”
“He’s my mentor,” a churchgoer, a construction worker, points to the pastor. “I find peace here, peace. Nowhere else gives me such a warm welcome.”
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