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OKPARA - Hi i must commend you for the awesome work you are doing, am a member
of the church in west Africa, am actually preparing for my mission
later this year. In this part of the world, the pentecostal sect are
dominant and so we always have a problem proving to people why
druming, clapping, dancing and singing, shouting hallelujah during
sunday service is inappropriate. Also, it is a common practice amongst
this same sect to conduct services over the night (10pm till 5am)
especially on fridays, they call it 'night vigils' these programs are
specially conducted to fight unseen forces through violent prayer
points and they do this with loudspeakers making a hell of noise in
the vicinity at night, they have a scriptural backing of Jesus praying
at night in Gethsemane, Peter, Paul and Silas miraculously recieving
their breakthroughs at night, Jacob wresting with an angel at night et
al. I was once part of them before i became a member, i now know the
truth and i know these practices are instigated due to the high
poverty rate here. But how do i prove to this people from the
scriptures about the err of these practices even as am about to go on
mission, mind you i've tried to correct many of my friends on the
JOEL - Actually it really isn't your responsibility to "correct" your friends.
When associating with others of different faiths we need to keep in mind the
11th article of faith:
"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the
dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege,
let them worship how, where, or what they may."
So we should respect the agency that others have to worship how they want
even though we may think that what they are doing is wrong.
It is also usually a waste of time to try and debate points of doctrine with
others and try to prove them wrong; a lesson I have learned over the years.
Like the saying goes:
"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still"
The best we can do is simply be good examples of Christlike living;
to love others and find opportunities to serve them. If or when they
decide that they want something more than what they have and are ready to listen,
we will be ready to share it with them.
I am not sure what scriptures I can give you to use in your discussions with your friends should they ask you about the Church.
In fact I found a few that actually supports the way they worship:
"O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph." (Psalms 47:1)
"Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart." (Psalms 32:11)
"Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. (Psalms 149:3)
Different religions will take hold of certain scriptures like these or a certain way of interpreting scripture to justify how they worship.
The big diffference between them and us is that we have latter-day prophets who can help us interpret scripture correctly and know how to apply them to our lives and how the Lord would like us to worship Him today.
Sometimes people use the following scripture for the type of worship the people you described are doing:
"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the
synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you,
They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which
is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matt 6:5-6)
It might make them think, but knowing when to reference such a scripture is very difficult because you don't know what's in their hearts and it might be more insulting to them rather than helpful.
The best thing to do is testify of the reality of latter-day prophets that can help us know how god would like us to worship Him today.
This should be your attitude on your mission as well. Don't try to debate or convince; just teach and testify.