Scoring for Leicester in Chingola

Staff_team_2015 Posted by Roger Thompson on Thu, 25 Feb 2016 | 2 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Flying into Ndola, Northern Zambia on Saturday afternoon, the first thing I saw was the football stadium – with an impressive double-arched canopy vaguely reminding me of Wembley. An idea for Sunday’s sermon popped into my head – “I wonder if they follow Premiership football here?”

It had been a long and tiring journey – four planes and 26 hours travelling – but there were lots of answered prayers along the way: the connections all working perfectly; the ex-pat pastor from Malawi who vacated his seat leaving me a whole row to stretch out on and grab a few hours’ kip; the woman sat next to me who used to be a CMS Britain Mission Partner in Uganda; Jonas, the Diocese of N. Zambia’s driver, who was there waiting in Ndola arrivals. “Don’t you have any luggage Mr Rogers?” (I was in such a dream I had clean forgotten to go to baggage reclaim!!)…travelling mercies indeed!

Jonas chatted away easily as he drove me to my accommodation, effortlessly negotiating the lumps and bumps along the way, and an hour later I was settling in to a lovely guesthouse in Kitwe, the major conurbation in Zambia’s Copperbelt region.

Jet lag worked in my favour for once and I was up at 5am on Sunday with plenty of time to put my jumbled thoughts in order for my sermon later that morning at St Barnabas parish, Chingola. I wanted to talk about Partnership, and I knew I had to sing the Zambian song Declan Smith had taught me in Dublin two weeks previously “Tayende Pamodzi Ndintima Umo” which roughly translated means “Let’s all pull together with one Spirit”. Jonas came up trumps with this too, as he belonged to his church choir and knew the song well. On the way to Chingola we sang it together so that I got the tune in my head, and at the start of my sermon he came up to the front to help me sing it.

We weren’t a patch on the parish choir – but the congregation loved it and all joined in, clapping along.

I then talked about Jesus inviting us to become his partner…

Come to me all you who are tired and heavy-laden…take my yoke upon you and learn from me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

I illustratred this with some volunteers from the congregation pretending to be two oxen and a heavy cart (a familiar sight in these parts).

Then it was time for my football analogy….and yes, they do follow the English game here, not half! Jonas is a Chelsea fan, others in the congregation were Man U (yawn!), Arsenal and even one or two Liverpool…but no-one supported Leicester City! For the sport agnostics amongst you, Leicester are currently flying high at the top of the English Premier League, and my claim to fame is that I used to watch them as a child, because my parents were both born there…in the glory days of Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton, Gary Lineker and many more.

The point about Leicester today is they are an absolutely brilliant TEAM! Their squad is small and most of them were relatively unknown at the beginning of the season, but now they are ‘giant-killers’. In a recent match against Liverpool they defended superbly and kept hitting their multi-million pound opposition on the break. Using the church aisle as a makeshift football pitch I re-enacted top scorer Jamie Vardy’s second goal – the perfect forward pass from Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez sailing over my shoulder as I ran towards the holy table. The ball bounced once, and with a quick glance up at the goalie, Vardy hit it on the volley and smashed it from 30 yards right into the top corner…2-0!

You should have seen the congregation nodding and murmuring, “That’s right, he did!”…. many of them had clearly seen it on TV! That’s what happens when you have a really effective team… people from all sorts of backgrounds, from Africa, from Ireland, all working together as one – you get amazing results!


Gillian Maganda said Thu, 25 Feb 2016 10:20PM
Brilliant contextualization! Continuing to pray for God,s protection and blessing wherever you go!
Ian said Tue, 01 Mar 2016 08:58AM
Excellent Roger - I'm almost tempted to start watching the footy again. God bless the rest of your travels!!

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