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The Bari Bible

There are moments in all of our lives when we seem to get a glimpse of the other side of the tapestry – a ‘God’s-eye view’ you could say –  when the stray threads of our encounters with others are drawn together and there is a beauty in the now-seen interconnections. We had just such an experience recently when Belfast's Port Chaplain from Seafarers’ Christian Friend Society, Sam Cowan, popped into the office with a curious CMSI artefact.


Producing a single leather-bound bible, none of us were prepared for the effects the scribbled signatures on the inside cover would have on our conversation. The book was passed around. Memories of those connected with the Society’s long history were gently jogged. Then, suddenly, things took a turn to the personal. Gillian Maganda, CMSI’s Personnel Manager, suddenly exclaimed, “That’s Bishop Manesseh’s signature – he’s the one who brought my David to Christ!”


As her eyes welled up, Gillian shared the significance of this man on her husband’s life as, through his embodiment of God on the ground, her husband David found both his spiritual and literal home through Bishop Manesseh. During David’s time in South Sudan as a refugee, Bishop Manesseh opened his heart and home to a young Maganda. This generosity, love and compassion were never forgotten.


When Gillian left the office and went home, she witnessed again David’s joy at hearing of this first Bishop of Kajo Keji, the man who had such a profound effect on his life. Indeed, the connections ran deeper still as, in a parallel encounter, the Magandas were able to help Bishop Manesseh’s wife, Mama Christina, when she was adrift in Khartoum. Years later, when Bishop Manesseh pilgrimaged to Uganda to thank the family for looking after his wife, David vividly remembers his own mother’s response to meeting the Bishop. David said she was so over-joyed and full of gratitude to the man who had shown such love to her son that she just couldn’t stop thanking him!


None of us expected Sam’s entrance to the office to induce such memories, least of all Sam himself. We extend our gratitude to him for taking the time and effort to return this book to our offices because he gave us more than an artefact. He gave us one of those rare opportunities to see the tapestry of life from ‘God’s-eye view’ where beauty is woven out of sight, on the other side of chaos.


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