06 2 / 2013
One real big cultural difference between Botswana and America is the pervasiveness of prayer. The German missionaries were very successful here in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and as a result most of the country is Christian, and prayer is everywhere.
There is no separation of church and state here. Every government office (including my clinic) begins the day with a prayer. Every meeting begins and ends with a prayer. Everyone is expected to participate, and there is no acknowledgement that anyone could identify as anything but Christian.
At first it was a little jarring to me. I didn’t like it. What if someone were Muslim, Atheism, or any other religion? Why would they be forced to pray in Jesus’s name, Amen? It seemed unfair, and narrow-minded.
Now it doesn’t bother me. In fact, when a bunch of people are sitting around waiting for a meeting to begin, sometimes I will lead the prayer just so we can get started. In fact, I kind of appreciate it. The prayer is usually preceded by a gospel song, which is always beautiful. It’s amazing what you can adjust to.