Thursday, January 8, 2015

Riding the Clutch

About a month ago, pastor Luke, one of our hospital administrators, approached me after morning report and told me that he needed to talk to me later that day … in his office.  I assumed he was likely going to tell me that I was fired, and I pictured this playing out much like the Seinfeld episode where Kramer started going to work everyday for a company that had never really hired him. Thankfully, that was not the reason for our meeting.  Instead he told me that there was a new church being planted on January 4 and would I consider joining him for their first Sunday service?  I replied “of course”!  Then he asked me if I would preach.  Despite my visceral aversion to public speaking, I agreed, having a feeling that this was an opportunity I should not pass up.  

Now, you might not know this about me, but I served as an elder at our church back in Bellingham, and I have even preached on Sunday, twice!  The last time I preached, after the service, one of the elders thanked me for preaching and then suggested I focus my efforts on writing. Yes, it was just that good. 

Well, yesterday morning, Steph and I piled into “The Old Lady” (John Cropsey’s Land Rover with just under 300,000 miles on it), along with pastor Luke and two other chaplains from the hospital, and began what would be a 2 hour off-roading adventure to a small church, in a very small village nestled on a hill in the mountains of Burundi.  After the service we were told that we were the first white people to ever visit this village.  The “road” to get there was very exciting.  At some points along this journey we drove down what looked like nothing more than a narrow walking path. (picture below).
 At other points, we crossed “bridges” made of nothing more than a few logs plopped down in the mud. (picture below).

But, we finally arrived, and it was well worth the journey. (The Church is the orange roof in the picture below)

The church was nothing more than a brick enclosure with dirt floors, wooden benches, and was overflowing with people, some of them standing in doorways and outside the windows for the entire 3 hour service.  I was asked to introduce myself and my wife, and at the last minute decided I would try to do this in my best Kirundi.  After my introduction, I fully expected a standing ovation for my valiant effort at their language, or at least a slightly thunderous roar of applause.  Instead, my greeting was met with some snickers, followed by the sound of crickets.  After sitting back down, I re-considered what I had just said, and thought perhaps it could be translated something like this: “My name Sund Greg.  I hoe at hospital Kibuye.  This is my husband Stephanie”.  Well, I suppose that would explain the crickets.  I preached on Colossians 2 and Galatians 2, the gist of the message being that salvation is based not on what you do, but on what Christ has already done in your place.  Thankfully, Luke told me I could preach in English and he would translate.  

At the end of the service, they served Stephanie and I, as well as the other visitors, a lovely lunch, and then presented us with a gift.  They explained that they did not have a lot to offer, but what they had they wanted to share with us.  They then presented me with a branch full of bananas and a live rooster.  (picture below).  
I felt so blessed to have this experience and to get to be a part of this new church plant among a people who live about as far removed from my life in Bellingham as I could ever imagine.  

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Galatians 2:20-21

1 comment:

  1. I have missed all of your live sermons now and had to podcast the last two....any chance this one is available online somewhere;)! I am sure that the Gospel was preached faithfully and articulately!

    btw - Rob has never received a rooster - that is an awesome gift. You should name him Spurgeon