NEWS END OF DECEMBER 2015
The day had finally arrived, for my friend to be ordained as a full Anglican Priest, something he had been wishing from at least 17 years previously. The route for him was long and tortuous. Anyway, there I was, in a crowd of about 150 people, having had a good meal, giving short speeches on how we knew the Priest, and congratulating him on his appointment.
I suppose people there wondered why I was grinning so much, as most of them presumably thought that I could not understand what was being said. Unexpectedly, although not entirely, I was given opportunity to share. I gave a brief history of how I had first got to know the new Priest in 1998, how he had lived with me for a year, how I had taught him at theological college. I mentioned my English name and my Luo name – when suddenly the whole hall erupted in tumultuous laughter and loud applause! Why? In incredulous joy that I, a white man, knew and used their language, and knew it so fluently.
The morning of the same day I attended the closing session of a youth conference for another church. When I prayed with the leaders of the conference, I was told later that most people did not close their eyes they were so intent on checking – were those words really coming from my mouth? The leaders of that church expressed interest in having me teach their pastors. I didn’t jump at the chance. They had to organise it, it had to be in ‘their’ language, I said . . . through long experience of falling foul when these things are not done in that way. (I have since been told that I am invited to speak at their conference in August 2016.)
A student on the Coptic programme of theological education asked me if he could have a chat. He proceeded to tell me his ‘woes’ especially re. money and food, on the course he is doing here. He felt like going home and packing it in as he wasn’t getting the money he had expected. It is a privilege just to be able to give a listening ear and a few encouraging words to a young man like that who really is trying to work out whether to give his life into God’s service.
Not flashy. Not loud. Not ‘super-impressive’, but apparently rock-solid! I visit this Anglican church every two to three years. Every time I go, always unannounced, they always ask me to be the preacher. My response is ‘yes’. (it is very normal custom around here to give a visitor the pulpit, even an unannounced visitor.) I am given the platform and I share. I am shown signs of appreciation for my visit. I return thanks to the church for their welcome. I leave again. So unassuming! Such unassuming humility on the part of this church is speaking to my heart.
Here's an amateur video, of a memorial service by one of the indigenous churches I often visit (video not produced by me!)
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL,
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