Hello everyone! This is my first post since arriving in the US, and my first days has been a blast. Today we went to two main destinations, which are the Pineview Pentecostal Church in Ypsilanti and also the Islamic Center in Dearborn. This post will focus more on the Pentecostal and later on there will be a separate post discussing the Islamic Center, since there’s so many things that need to be said. So here it goes…
I am going to start off with a short description of my understanding about the Pentecostals. Pentecostalism is one of the sects of Christianity that emphasizes a direct personal experience of God. The Pentecostals believe in the one God, which is Jesus, who came to the world and put on flesh. They do not believe in the trinity, but rather Jesus as the one God. This belief is seen through the settings of the service in which we cannot see the figure of Jesus, but rather just a cross. This Christianity is built around the Book of Acts, though still uses the other books of the bible. They also consider themselves the Apostle movement. The history of traditional Pentecostal started right after the death of Jesus, but the acts of modern Pentecostals only just came in the 1900s in California. It started out as an organization made up out of different Christianity, such as Catholics and Methodists. Then it grew into a movement and into what it is today.
The Pineview Church itself is a very multicultural church. It was clarified later that Pentecostals really is a church of diverse ethnics and races. This is different from most common churches, in which African-Americans would go to a different church from Hispanics, for example. It is said that Pineview in the early days was dominated by African-Americans, but as time changed people felt welcomed enough to come and join. The people of this church were very welcoming, which was nearly the opposite of what I expected, what with Annisia and I wearing hijab. Everyone came swarming to greet us and ask how we were and who we came from. We were even mentioned in some part of the service, and sure did feel great to be involved.
I would say that nearly everything done before, during, and after the service is quite unfamiliar with what I understood of Christianity. The service was different from what I had in mind, because I thought it was going to be all formal. But came out that everything was somewhat “informal”. There were a lot of dancing around and singing, and people getting into trance. It was breathtaking, and was hard to take everything all in at the same time. A lot of affection was being shown; everyone was hugging everyone else trying to give support. Lively music was sung and kept being repeated, I suppose to let the meaning of each song penetrate inside the body and soul. The service consisted of a couple of parts, starting with the recital of some parts of the Bible, personal prayers (in which an individual would come up front and approach a pastor and ask for support in their prayers, then the pastor would put some oil on their foreheads and they pray together), more choir singing, the sermon for approximately an hour, and the closing choir. It was explained to me by the US participants that Catholic, Protestant, and even Baptist Church isn’t that lively, and nearly every ritual was done differently despite the fact that all are sects of Christianity.
Later after the service ended we had the Chance to meet Nathaniel Nix, who is the senior pastor in Pineview. Nat has been a senior pastor for the last 11 years. He is the fifth generation of pastor in his family, and the third generation of the family of dedicates to Pineview. Nat confesses that he is known to be radical in the community and often gets into trouble for what he says, especially his belief of anti-religion. Nat believes that there is no use in religion, human are only to worship the one God without having to do with religion. Though seen as a quite radical person there are things said by Nat that made sense to whoever hears his words. During the service, he was telling a story of how he went for a drive with his son and saw an airplane and how in awe he was with it. He stated that the law of aerodynamics are greater than the law of gravity, thus the chunk of metal can still be suspended in the air and fight gravity. This is like the law of good and bad and human are to believe that the power of the good is much greater than the bad, and no matter what, human will survive. Some other things that he said was more universal and would be found in every religion or faith: everyone is created equal; life is short, and so on, so forth. Nat has also been all around the world for service and has actually been in Indonesia. So one thing I would be brave enough to say is that no matter what you believe in, and how you believe it, people should spend some time serving for those in need, and finding what else there is to up with in this “crazy” world, as he put it.
This really was a great experience, and a great opening to the Summer Program in America. Thank you everyone!