I was able to spend last week with a very special group of people. You wouldn’t have thought they were special just looking at them. But they truly were! And yet very ordinary at the same time. Very ordinary, in that they had their strengths and weaknesses, their questions and doubts, their strange habits and foibles 🙂 and amazing gifts. Some were “loud”, some very quiet. Some were in their 20s, others in their 70s and 80s (and most somewhere in between). Some were married, some were single. Some had young families, others had grown up children. Most were British, some were Dutch, Danish, Australian, Spanish or German (not just me :-))
All very normal so far. But let me tell you where they are living (or spent many years of their lives): Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Congo, Costa Rica, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Western Sahara, UK, Yemen.
What took them there was probably a bit of a sense of adventure, a fascination with other cultures, and most of all the realisation that there were lots of people out there who did not know anything about the God who made them and loves them. So they do whatever they can in the situation they are in, with the gifts and skills that they have, to bring something of that love into the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people.
At times, that’s very exciting and great fun. At other times, it’s very, very hard, and there are lots of big questions. Yet they go on.
On the last day, we celebrated communion together. As I was looking around the room, looking at 50 or so very ordinary people, I had such a sense that there was so much more going on. I could (almost) see the people all around the world, in some very lovely places, and in some very inhospitable ones, who because of these amazing people are hearing and experiencing something of God’s love for them.
It was a very special moment indeed, and an amazing privilege to be there!
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16; The Message)