Today we had the full program of conference day 1, running from 8.30 this morning to 4 pm. My part was to preach a sermon from the beginning of 1 Corinthians, which I really enjoyed and seemed to be received well, praise God. After that I led one of the small groups and you can see a photo of them gathered together under a tin roof. Which was fine until we had 10 minutes of heavy rain and couldn’t hear a thing.
They are a good group of men and it was both fascinating and moving to share news and prayer requests this afternoon. One man handed me the note you can see in the photo and when I pressed him for a bit more information it turned out that the dead relative is his three-year-old niece and the sick one is her twin. This sort of thing is not at all unusual here. In fact one of the other man was quite upset because his 17-year-old son was hit by vehicle on the road yesterday and the hospital is talking about needing to amputate the lower part of his leg. There are many such road accidents, and indeed deaths, here. It is all quite sobering for a comfortable Westerner like me. How easy we have it.
Another aspect of clergy life which is very difficult is that these people have to go just where their bishop sends them and often with very little notice or warning. They might easily be sent to a parish where the pay is much less and suddenly they are confronted with the problem the school fees or hospital fees. What do they do? One woman vicar has been sent to be a school chaplain. She hates it but has no choice and doesn’t know for how long this will be. I don’t think I would cope with a bishop like that!
Still nice and warm here. Later this afternoon we had about an hour very heavy rain. All good fun and quite dramatic.
One or two of the guys have been a bit sick but I have felt in good health, praise God. I should be so grateful if you continue to pray for me, please, that I might love and serve these people well.
Thinking of you all and praying for you.