Monday, August 11
Dogon Country, Mali

After a chilly Saturday night sleeping on a cliff in Dogon Country, we awoke to the sound of music, voices singing and the beat of a drum.

Salif had told us there was a church nearby, so we followed the sound until we arrived at the mud structure with a cross over the door. A service was in progress. That’s right, I thought, it’s Sunday.

Church in Dogon Country.

Church in Dogon Country.

Until then, I had seen only Muslims praying in West Africa. I had visited more mosques than I could count, but no churches, since most Senegalese and Malians practice Islam. The Dogon people, though, are more diverse; some practice Islam, some Christianity, and others have animist beliefs.

I identified with the Sunday worship, having been raised Catholic, so I stood by the entrance to the church to watch the service. A woman inside motioned for me to enter, then made room for me to sit on her mud pew.

The room was decorated with trinkets that resembled Christmas tree ornaments, and several photos of Jesus adorned the wall behind the alter.

I waited until after the service, when the Evangelical church had emptied except for the priest, to take photos.

Evangelical church in Dogon Country

Evangelical church in Dogon Country

This church may have been made of mud, but it was the same model as the one I attended every Sunday as a child.

That’s when it hit me: while the Dogon worshiped in this cliff-top church in West Africa, the church family I grew up with was kneeling in upstate New York, praying to the same God.