Honest questions and profound gestures
Thursday 11th July
Our second day is drawing to a close in Kitwe. Because we'd next to no sleep during our time getting here, our first night's sleep was deep and today we needed time to just adjust and do those practical things like luggage retrieval and food supplies.
The Bishop led the four of us in morning reflection. It was encouraging and helpful. Our luggage appeared and so Keith and I went to collect it while Bishop Trevor, Noreen, Hazel and Lyn went and bought supplies.
The last thing we did before we stepped inside our guest house was to switch off our torches and look upwards. With everything we've been through, there's nothing quite like a clear night sky to put things into perspective. It reminds us of the God who is bigger than us, but who's intimately invested in us.
Friday 12th July
Mission is about partnership we have been told. It's also about shared learning, crossing cultural barriers and supporting people.
Today, we were given something else: the chance to hold a mirror up and take a good look at ourselves. In a very frank discussion with the ordinands at the seminary, we were quizzed about the nature of our evangelism. Whilst we endeavoured to sum up the issues facing the people of our countries, in the end it came down to this: "If your country is so much smaller than Zambia and you have many ministers, why aren't you evangelising more?" And in honesty, when we strip away all the reasons we could throw back... maybe there is something in that. This is the learning process and sometimes study is difficult.
We visited a parish in the afternoon: Buchi. We had a warm welcome and were treated with grace and respect. We had discussions with members of the parish and with the Mothers' Union and with Father Alfred. They said we blessed them, but upon reflection we were blessed by their hospitality.
A couple of notes to finish on...
The best part of my day, the one that struck me most, wasn't the honesty of discussion or the meeting such wonderful and humble people. It came when we were about to have biscuits and tea with Father Alfred. Moments before we ate and drank one lady of the parish came in to the tight little study room with a jug, a basin and a towel and proceeded to wash our hands with cold water and then with the towel over her arm we dried our hands. That for me, was the literal presence of Christ. Such a simple gesture, but one with profound meaning. Someone taking the time to not show you where you could wash up, but someone helping you, preparing you for fellowship around a table; there's a parable in there somewhere.
Lastly... I'm in my room, it's 9:55pm, and the electric will most likely go in the next few minutes. And somewhere in the distance, a choir is singing beautiful chords of music to their God. Goodnight Kitwe.