Focus: Worth losing sleep over

As others enjoy the comfort of their beds in the hours before sunrise, there are some that brave the early morning cold.
Rise and Shine: Early morning worshippers. (File photo)
Rise and Shine: Early morning worshippers. (File photo)

As others enjoy the comfort of their beds in the hours before sunrise, there are some that brave the early morning cold.

I check my watch and it’s 6:30 a.m. At a glance, I see a group of three people clinging to what look like Bibles.

They look sleepy and cold-beaten though clad in heavy jackets.

Having seen them with Bibles, I searched the area for churches where late night or early morning gatherings might be take place.

“What could have prompted them to forego hours of rest?” I start asking. The following day, I woke up very early and joined those going for prayers.

“The blessing from God is hard-earned,” one woman, in her early 20s, says.

The first stop was at Edeni Adeper Pantecoti Niboye, a protestant church in Kicukiro. The church’s unpainted walls are rough with unleveled concrete.

“Many people of all ages converge here.” I join and pray in silence.

“Apart from the main choir, Choral Edeni, there is also a choir called ‘Jehova Fire’ that is for the early morning prayers. I am part of that choir,” explains Ndagijimana Aimable.

Ndagijimana, 32, leaves home at around 5 a.m. to attend early morning prayers. “I wake up at 5.00 a.m. and prepare for the morning session, by 5.30 a.m., I am already inside the church.”

Ndagijimana, who has attended morning prayers for three years, explained that foregoing sleep was a personal decision.

“It is something you do on a personal basis. The earth is full of challenges. Everything comes before God,” he explains.

Sokula Aloys is a pastor who usually leads morning sessions at this church. He is calm and composed. He preaches to the congregation in a parental tone.

He says he has been doing this for 35 years in Democratic Republic of Congo before he drifted to Kigali. He says praising God is vital and one can do it before other work.

He refuted the notion that parents play a role in the consistency of this practice and said that, “it is just one’s heart”.

He revealed that the church which was started in 1998 didn’t immediately start off with praying in the morning but said it had been a gradual process.

“The bottom line is to thank God for keeping us a live,” he tells those in attendance.

I find out that people who are here for prayers some reside very far away. Some of them are from Kicukiro, Kimironko and Remera.

They are committed. They occasionary shut their eyes. Some have their hands raised in the air.

Before leaving home, Mujjemana Thierrie, 20, puts on a white long sleeved shirt with jacket to protect him against the morning piecing cold. For two years, he has been attending morning prayers.

He said: “After understanding the meaning of prayer and God, I started coming to church everyday. This makes my relationship with God good.”

Emmanuel Ngiruwosanga, 25-years-old, is a choir leader and reveals that he it is three years since he started going to church for early morning prayers. He says he is emotionally attached to the daily routine.

“When I come to the church everyday, I only have thanks to the Lord and feel good everyday,” he says.

Zion Temple in Kicukiro is among the biggest churches in the area with an estimated capacity of 5,000 people. Here morning prayers are observed strictly.

It is 6.30 a.m. and the early morning worshippers are not yet out of church. The style of praying is identical to that at Edeni Adeper Pantecoti Niboye.

“You can’t eat once a week and continue to live. Sunday is not enough. Early morning is the best time to pray because you are very much committed and alert,” Niyungeko Remy says.

I arrive here at 5.00 a.m. Worship takes about 40 minutes, an hour’s intercession, and twenty minutes of praising God. The morning is colourful and people in attendance are in jovial mood.