Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The curious case of the missing church

A few weeks ago we got a call from Bethany hospital.  One of the staff there said that her church was interested in helping out at Jeevan Sahara Kendra.  Could we organise something?

Yes we could!

We told the lady that we would be happy to take church members along with us, and asked her to convey this to her priest.

A few days later we were told that they wanted to do a programme with us on the 2nd of October.

Oooh.  We are running a week-long training for folks from North India (and 1 person from China too!), so that really is not a good day...  but the church wanted this day because it is Gandhi's birthday and that means a number of people can come.

OK.  Eager church.  Wants to help.  Let's bend a bit.  Seize the day.

Right - we tell them that we will have our field staff at their disposal on the 2nd even though the training is going on.  All hands available will be at the disposal of the church.  We will meet with them at the JSK centre to orient them in the morning. Our home-based care staff will then take the church folks in mini-groups of two each to spend time with our HIV Positive Friends.

The church had asked if they can help financially - we suggested that each mini-team brings a hamper of daily necessity things - food etc.

So far, so good.  The priest is happy.  The lady at Bethany is happy.  We have another opportunity to expose folks to the challenges that people living with HIV face.

Oh, and one more detail. We will be spending lunch time with the family.  Please bring about 200 Rs. with you so that you can buy some food and cook together with the family while you are there and then share the meal.

A few days later I got a call.  The priest wants to meet me.  Sure.  No problem.

We meet.

He tells me that some on 'the committee' are concerned.  How can we eat with the Positive People.

I explain to the priest that there is no risk at all.   He is young.  He knows.  But he is also new.  And the committee folks call the shots.

"Could we just visit and give a gift" the priest suggests.  "Then on the second or third visit we could have a meal with them?"

Nothing doing.  I tell the man that we do not have blanket distributions with photos - stuff to make people feel that they are 'doing something good.'   We invite churches to experience life and dip into the reality of what God's love means.

I tell the priest that we will be happy to even take 2 people from their church along with our staff.

He promises to speak with the committee and get back to us on Monday.  We pray and part with smiles and hand-shakes.

Monday came and almost completely went.  No call from the church.   Towards the end of the day I asked Peter to call and find out.   He finally got through to the priest and had this to say:

The church won't be coming on the 2nd.  Most of the members are not getting a holiday on that day.

Hmmmm.  Wasn't that the day that was specifically asked for at the beginning?  The day when most of the people could come?

Sad that the folks won't be coming.

But sadder since the reason given is highly unlikely to be true.  And shouldn't followers of Jesus - who is the truth - not be fudging and covering up - but rather making a clean breast of whatever actually is going on?

Though I would not be happy about it, I would have so appreciated it if the priest were able to sit down and talk to me about the real reason for the turn-about.  It think there could be healing in praying with a sad priest whose idea has been shot down by some folks on the committee.  

Are we surprised that so many of our churches are so flaccid?  That righteousness and justice and love and truth are in such short supply... and yet so much could be done.

And by God's grace somethings are being done.  This church has missed the boat.  At least this time (hopefully they will come by again, thought it looks unlikely).  But there are others who are reaching out in love.  Each in a different way, but there are folks who are quietly doing things - much of which is not seen here, but which our heavenly Father sees very clearly.

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully the clash of new and old thinking in churches will subside. Our chalta-Hai attitude may be part of the problem. I think it require all three: Righteousness , love and courage to break the barrier..
    thank you for sharing