This morning I went to the Ministry of Finance with Shaun to get our new car registered. We arrived at the Department of Motor Vehicles (located on the ground floor of the Ministry) just as "Devotion" was about to begin, and so had to wait in the hallway outside the office for a good while before we could begin the numerous steps needed to process the documents. The windows were curtainless and open, so we could see and hear it all as ten men and one woman sang several lively songs—standing and clapping and swaying to their music. The praise was followed by a scripture reading from the book of I Samuel, and then by the kind of preaching that could make a rogue repent.
Here in Liberia there is absolutely no separation of church and state. Campaigning from the pulpit was commonplace before the Elections, and it's not unusual at all to walk into an office—government or otherwise—and see religion in action. I once participated in a full Praise & Worship service at the Ministry of Information. (And that service was just one of a series planned by a group of ministries).
Here, we pray before meetings of any kind, and often pray to close as well. In fact, godliness is so widely assumed of everyone that people at a gathering are sometimes asked, without prior arrangement, to lead a prayer. As I’ve not yet become the "Woman of Prayer" that I in January of every year plan to become, I am always terrified someone will pick me someday and thus expose my sometimes flaky relationship with God.
As Americanized as I have become, I love this part of our culture. I love the fact that we all know all the praise songs (which are not written down in hymnbooks anywhere). I love the fact that despite the recent civil war which targeted civilians we still love God so much (if not more!), and I love the fact that when we count our money (yes, the US dollar is ours too) we can look at the words “In God We Trust” and know we really mean it.