From Nigeria to Huntsville, African community takes root

HUNTSVILLE – A steady rain pelted the plain, brick church, muddying the crowded parking lot and blanketing the sky in a gray gloom.

Inside the RCCG Rhema International Assembly, however, the spirit was joyful.

Congregants sang and swayed and lifted their voices. They praised the Lord in English and in a variety of Nigerian languages: Igbo, Yoruba, Urhobo. They tapped out beats on tambourines, shekere gourds and talking drums.

“You are alive today. That means you can face tomorrow,” a deacon rejoiced. “Hallelujah.”

Hands fluttered in the air. Voices rose in unison.

From the nursery in the back, children’s laughter mingled with the songs and prayers.

This was, in every sense, a family gathering. Of mothers, fathers and children. Of immigrants joined by common roots. Of colleagues employed as prison guards by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

They had been drawn to this small city in the Piney Woods of East Texas from different corners of the U.S., by word of mouth and social media chatter, by the promise of steady work and a brighter future.

They are drawn to this simple church by the bonds of culture and career, evident in the worshippers filling the pews.

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