The IAFR Blog

Field notes, perspectives, stories, news & announcements

Sunday Morning in a Refugee Camp

July 16, 2021

A Sudanese church gathering in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. Photo: T.Albinson/IAFR.
Have you ever wondered what a Sunday morning worship service is like in a refugee camp?

Music

An average worship service goes from 9:00 - 12:30 and features multiple choirs including children’s choirs, youth choirs, and other special choirs from the congregation. As they sing, everyone is set into motion - both the choirs and the congregation. Everybody participates.

Songs are sung by memory as there are no projectors or songbooks. Many of the songs have been written by the refugees themselves.

Most churches value music and song highly enough to have somehow obtained a sound system and an electronic keyboard. Some even have electric guitars. Most play and sing with the volume turned up loud.

I've seen many instruments powered by car batteries.

Prayer

There is often an extended time of community prayer, during which everyone prays aloud at the same time. A pastor or other church leader leads the people from the front. Everyone is encouraged to pour out their hearts to God.

Offering

Although the people live in difficult circumstances and often eat only one meal a day, they present their offerings to the Lord every Sunday. It is usually an upbeat part of the service.

People place their offerings in special woven baskets placed at the front of the sanctuary as a choir sings. While most offer money, I’ve seen people bring forward sacks of flour, live chickens, and even a duck.

The Message(s)

There is at least one sermon during the service. I've been told more than once that the people expect a minimum of 40 minutes per sermon. If the message is shorter, they assume that the preacher didn’t prepare well. They are hungry for the Word of God and expect to leave the service with a full spirit.

Sunday mornings are a celebration of community and faith in Jesus.

Please pray for the Refugee Church.

The Refugee Church plays a critical role in keeping hope alive in refugee contexts. The pastors and church leaders are all refugees, just like the congregations they shepherd. They carry a heavy load.

- Tom Albinson

Back to the Blog