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On Wonder & Worship: Finding Heaven in Refugee Camps & Dance Clubs

By December 10, 2015April 24th, 2022Christian Living3 min read

We wonder at the mystery of a God who became man in many ways. This past week, I had three separate encounters with wonder and worship. As we enter the Advent season, I captured three snapshots worth sharing.

First, a refugee camp, standing at the doorway of an orthodox Eritrean church. My friends and I arrived in the driving rain, removed our muddy boots, lingered in the back, partly present and partly observers in a ceremony so formal in tone and foreign in language that I felt mostly an outsider.

Second, a club night of worship hosted by Bright City in Brighton. They somehow accomplished the almost impossible, inviting us to dance and sing to Jesus our Savior, mixing music and sound and lights and words in a way that made me long for the bright city that will be our forever home. I particularly loved this lyric, “We’re singing for the world to come alive.” May this be the chorus of the song of my life.

But the third, the third was where I want to linger. It was also a church, also in the refugee camp, also in a language I don’t understand, also in a place deeply foreign. I walked in and immediately belonged. We worshiped for perhaps two hours, and it felt like a moment. In the midst of our prayers, as we each prayed in a different language, the Spirit of God was so beautifully present that it simply felt right to cover my head for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 11). In that tent—as an Ethiopian woman beat an empty milk container as the only instrument and thirty voices mingled in praise in English, Farsi, Arabic, and Amharic—in that tent I worshiped.

I wonder,
if all of eternity is one long celebration of worship,
if this is the heartbeat of my life and the reason I was created,
if we will truly be gathered from every tribe, tongue, and nation,
if this is the end of the story.

“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation‬ ‭22:3-5‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Then even now, when we live in a world of sin and curse and suffering, I want to know my God and worship Him. Surely if I can worship in a refugee camp, cold, wet, muddy, and foreign, I ought to be ready to worship at any time and in any place.

I want to wonder in the places I don’t understand, in the clubs and pubs of England, in the company of those who give me a taste of a forever home.

This Advent season, I want to see His face and know His glory. I pray the same for each of us, the loved children of God.

Sarah Yardley is a Californian living in Cornwall who loves Jesus, family, friendships, coffee, travel, and guacamole.