Stephen has inspiring time in Yei

Sudan_blackboard Posted by Yei 2013 on Mon, 21 Jan 2013 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

I may not be the tallest of Connor Clergy (the ‘wee man from Larne’), but the entrance to the Yei teaching Payot (a round thatched structure, used as the YVC dining area that is open to the fresh air) was a good 6 inches lower than I am, so this morning’s first teaching session got off to a cracking start as I thumped my head on a Sudanese door post. Things could only get better…and they did.

With 33 participants who had travelled from every corner of Yei diocese, by bicycle, motorbike and bus, there was a high level of expectation from all who had gathered and not a little apprehension from those delivering the teaching. How had I ended up trying to explain the Book of Nehemiah to the people of Yei, when even our Bishop admitted he had never understood his lecturer in college? How to connect the life of a prophet who lived 400 years before Jesus to the Pastors and evangelists of South Sudan? Yet there were connections to be made, for both had survived years of exile in a foreign land, both had a homeland to rebuild and both had a faith to build strong.

With the prayerful support of the other team members the sessions flew, despite the heat. As ever the humour of the Sudanese shone through and the second session (how to write your own Bible Study from Nehemiah) began with rousing Sudanese singing (If only Bishop Alan had been there to enjoy it. Instead he was re-writing the Constitution of the Diocese of Yei). Today was a day to be pushed well out of my comfort zone, but Sudan causes you to rely only on God’s care, wisdom and guidance. And as Nehemiah proclaimed across the centuries, God is constantly faithful.

In the afternoon it was the turn of Andrew, who presented the only copy of a Rembrandt in Yei (his famous painting of the “Returning Son”), for the conference participants to consider: the challenge of St Luke from a loving heavenly Father to embrace and forgive each of us.

In the morning Jewish history from the 4th century before Christ, in the afternoon art criticism on the Dutch masters. Oh yes, preceded by the all-singing and all-dancing Bishop of Connor, and followed in the final session of a long, long day by Judith asking Stephen to trust Andrew enough to catch him as he fell backwards. It was a perfect illustration to a session on Trust. The day had started with one bump to the head. Could Andrew be trusted that it wouldn’t end with another bruise?

It’s probable the Yei participants had never spent a day like it, to learn about God, and how to communicate his love to their congregations and communities. But it never took them long to grasp an unfamiliar approach, and within minutes to make it their own. A new and potentially powerful way to communicate the gospel. And for the team, a deep sense that God had been present throughout, in the unfamiliar, the unconventional, and the unexpected. But that is the essence of faith, as Nehemiah knew, the people of Yei know, and yes the team from Connor know too.

Now does anyone know how to sleep in 30 degrees of heat? But surely its better than being stuck in the snow in Belfast?

[Stephen Forde]

PS: You can view all the pictures on the Connor website.

Add your own comment