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)
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