As I write my heart has a knife in it. My lungs buckle under the strain of gasping for breath. Pain spreads over my clouded chest as both Continue reading
And so we come to the final chapter of the Book of Ruth which recounts the tale of the romance of great-grandparents of king David of Israel, the ancestors of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, God the Son. In chapter 1 we saw how Naomi brought Ruth, her daughter-in-law, to the Land of Promise after the deaths of both their husbands. The story continued in chapter 2 where we witnessed the meeting of Boaz and Ruth as she and her mother-in-law struggle to make ends-meet. He is kind to her. In chapter 3 Ruth goes to Boaz late at night to ask him to take up their cause and redeem her and her mother-in-law. The story concludes in chapter 4.
The tale of Ruth and Boaz’s love and God’s orchestration was put to verse by John Bunyan (1628-1688), the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress and of many other poems, books and tracts.
RUTH – CHAP. IV.
And Boaz went up to the city gate,
And after a short space, while there he sate,
The kinsman of whom he had spoke, came by,
To whom he said, Ho, [‹1.6›] such a one, draw nigh,
And sit down here. He came and sat him down.
Then he took ten men, elders of the town,
And caused them to sit down. Then to the man
That was of kin, thus he his speech began,
Naomi, said he, who not long since sojourn’d
Among the Moabites, is now return’d;
And doth intend to sell a piece of ground,
The which Elimelech our brother own’d.
And now to give thee notice, I thought fit,
That if thou pleasest, thou may’st purchase it.
In presence of these men assembled here.
Then if thou wilt redeem it, now declare
Thy mind, but if thou wilt not, then let me,
For thou art next of kin, and I next thee.
Then said the kinsman, I will it redeem.
Boaz reply’d, if good to thee it seem,
To buy it of the hand of Naomi,
Thou also art obliged the same to buy
Of Ruth the Moabitess, wife o’ th’ dead;
On his inheritance to raise up seed.
The kinsman said, I cannot do this thing
Myself, lest I an inconvenience bring
Upon mine own inheritance, what’s mine
By right, therefore I now to thee resign.
Now this in Israel did a custom stand,
Concerning changing and redeeming land;
To put all controversy to an end,
A man pluck’d off his shoe, and gave his friend;
And this in Israel was an evidence,
When e’er they changed an inheritance.
Then said the kinsman unto Boaz, do
Thou take my right. And off he pluck’d his shoe.
Then Boaz to the elders thus did say
And to the people, all of you this day
Appear for me as witnesses, that I
Have bought all of the land of Naomi,
That was Elimelech’s or did belong
Either to Mahlon or to Chilion:
And Ruth the Moabitess, who some time
Was Mahlon’s wife, I’ve purchas’d to be mine,
Still to preserve alive the dead man’s name
On his inheritance, lest that the same
Should in the gate where he inhabited,
Or ‘mongst his brethren be extinguished:
Behold, this day, my witnesses you are.
Then all the people that were present there,
And elders said, We are thy witnesses:
May God this woman thou hast taken bless,
That she, like Rachel, and like Leah be,
Which two did build up Israel’s family:
And thou in Ephratah exalt thy name,
And through the town of Bethl’hem spread thy fame;
And may the seed which God shall give to thee
Of this young woman, full as prosperous be,
As was the house of Pharez heretofore,
(Pharez, whom Tamar unto Judah bore.)
So he took Ruth, and as his wife he knew her,
And God was pleased, when he went in to her
To grant the blessing of conception,
And she accordingly bare him a son.
Then said the woman, Blessed be the Lord!
Bless thou him Naomi, who doth afford
To thee this day a kinsman, which shall be
Famous in Israel; and shall be to thee
As the restorer of thy life again,
And in thy drooping age shall thee sustain:
For that thy daughter-in-law, who loves thee well
And in thy sight doth seven sons excel,
Hath born this child. Then Naomi took the boy
To nurse; and did him in her bosom lay.
Her neighbours too, gave him a name, for why,
This son, say they, is born to Naomi:
They called him Obed, from whose loins did spring
Jesse, the sire of David, Israel’s king.
On Monday, we read chapter 1 of the Book of Ruth. The story follows the meeting of Ruth and Boaz, the great-grandparents of king David of Israel and the ancestors of Jesus Christ. In chapter 1 we read about how Ruth came to the Land of Israel while in chapter 2 we witnessed the meeting of Boaz and Ruth. The love story continues in chapter 3 as we read John Bunyan’s versification of the story of these star-crossed lovers (these terms I use quite loosely).
RUTH – CHAP. III.
Then Naomi said, Shall I not, my daughter,
Seek rest for thee, that thou do well hereafter?
And is not Boaz, with whose maids thou wast,
One of the nearest kinsmen that thou hast?
Behold, this night he in his threshing floor
Is winnowing Barley, wash thyself therefore,
Anoint thee, put thy clothes on, and get down
Unto the floor; but make not thyself known,
Till he hath eat and drank, and shall prepare
To lie him down; then take good notice where
He goes about to take his night’s repose,
And go thou in there, and lift up the clothes
From off his feet, and likewise lay thee down,
And what thou hast to do he will make known.
And she made answer, Whatsoever thou
Hast me commanded, will I gladly do.
And down unto the floor she hasted, and
Forthwith fulfilled her mother-in-law’s command.
So now when Boaz had his heart refresh’d,
With meat and drink, he laid him down to rest,
Near to the heap of corn; she softly came,
Uncover’d’s feet, and lay down by the same.
And, lo! at midnight, as he turn’d him round,
He was afraid, for at his feet he found
A woman lay. Who art thou? then said he.
I am thine handmaid Ruth, replied she,
Over thine handmaid therefore spread thy skirt,
I pray, because thou a near kinsman art.
Blessed be thou, said he, because thou hast
Made manifest more kindness at the last,
Than at the first, in that thou did’st, my daughter,
No young men, whether poor or rich, go after.
And now, my daughter, be not thou afraid,
I will do to thee all that thou hast said:
For all the city of my people knows,
Thou art a woman truly virtuous;
And now though I am kin and undoubtedly,
Yet there is one that’s nearer kin than I.
Tarry this night, and when ’tis morning light,
If he will like a kinsman, do thee right,
We’ll let him, but if not, I myself will,
As the Lord lives; till morning lie thou still.
And till the morning at his feet she lay,
And then arose about the break of day;
And he gave her a charge, not to declare
That there had any womankind been there.
He also said, bring here thy veil, and hold
To me; she did, and thereinto he told
Six measures full of barley, and did lay
It on her, and she hasted thence away.
And when unto her mother-in-law she came,
Art thou, said she, my daughter come again?
Then what the man had done she told, and said,
He these six measures full of barley laid
Upon me, for said he, This I bestow,
Lest to thy mother thou should’st empty go.
Then, said she, sit still daughter, till thou see
What the event of this intrigue will be;
For till the man this day hath made an end,
No satisfaction will on him attend.
And now a story I shall write;
It shall be about a fight:
In Israel a man there was
With arms of steel, heart of brass
Battle-hardened stripes had he
Many sprung from trickery.
Hair as long as he was tall,
His weapon once a donkey’s jaw.
What fame he held
As he Philistines felled;
In vengeance and passion
They died in like fashion.
That is, until a woman he met.
To win her love he made a misstep,
Confiding in her where lies his strength.
So her people him to naught did rend;
For she shaved his locks of dread
And he to the Philistines was fed.
The Spirit of God from him departed
Until his faith anew was started.
His gauged out eyes deterred him not
As a servant boy led him to a spot
Between two columns he rested his arms
He prayed, the Philistines stayed unalarmed,
Then he squeezed the two columns
Turning a jovial moment solemn.
Thus, in the end, he won the fight
A man’s strength lies not in his might,
Neither in his passion nor in fashion
But being the Lord’s dearest possession.
Well, the mini-campaign is done. And I give God all the glory for the role He played in making it a success. Our speaker originated from a neighbouring country. He has lived in mine for almost seven years. He made us laugh a lot. His was the kind of humour that had a whole lot of truth in it. He spoke about the Kingdom of God.
You’re most probably wondering how I dealt with the challenges I faced last week. In one short sentence, God carried me through.
At first the Conference Youth Director couldn’t make it for Saturday, 3 May because he was out of town. I contacted the substitute he organised. At first the substitute was to picked up at his domicile by us and brought to our church. But, the substitute also had to be ordained as a church elder at another church that day. He was going to lunch by me where the brothers from that church would pick him up and take him to their church where the ordination would take place. The arrangments changed many times as new information came to light. Ultimately, we agreed that the brothers from that other church would collect him at his domicile in the morning, ordain him at their church and rush him to mine so that he could preach.
However, on Friday (341 days to go) the Conference Youth Director confirmed that he would be able to preach on Saturday. With a smile on my face and a song in my heart, I informed the youth elder who did not inform the other elders as I would learn the next day.
The Conference Youth Director preached a powerful sermon on the Kingdom of God. He really made it personal. The congregation was moved.
That Saturday night the pastor who would conduct the campaign for the rest of the week delivered his first sermon. He had us cracking just like a famous comedian from my country. Being fully bilingual, and speaking to an almost fully bilingual audience, he mixed the two languages we speak pretty well. But, the message came through loud and clear.
After we did a lot of damage control on Sunday night (337 DTG) which made us start the programme 15 minutes late, we had to stall the programme the Monday night (336 DTG) because the pastor assumed that we would begin late again. As on Saturday afternoon (339 DTG), he came just as time ran out. He was on time for the rest of the week. He came a little late tonight though but not that late!
On Tuesday night, D spoke to me about the underlying tension she sensed in the group. She referred to my cousin, S. I asked her if she meant S, she said yes. Something just told me “Level with her” occurred to me. So, I did. I explained that S was upset with D because D didn’t organise a guest artist for Sunday night and that D should’ve been prepared to sing herself since she is the worship leader. I told her that I was also angry with her because of what she said to my cousin, the sensitive, temperamental pianist. It made me look bad, uninformed and incompetent as a leader (these are her words). But, because the unity of the team is more important to me, I decided not to hold it against her. I forgave her. Only then did she realise the implications of what she had said. She apologised.
Then I asked her to speak to S to clear the air. But she had reached the point where she just didn’t care anymore. D told me that she had called musicians the whole Sunday and the week preceding it, but she couldn’t secure anyone.
That night, I told S about my conversation with D explaining D’s position. I urged her to speak to D. But, S didn’t want to.
That same night (335 DTG) we had a short debriefing meeting after the programme to explain mistakes that we made and prepare the team for the next evening’s programme. Because D had to leave early, I informed the team that D had two unconfirmed artists for the next night. One of the pianists (N) and his cousin volunteered to perform while one of the other members (R) of the praise team was going to get men’s group to perform. However, I didn’t hear correctly and thought R was L (their names are similiar). L had fallen out of favour with S three years ago during the first mini-campaign we organised as a team. So, the team was shocked that D would have L secure an act for us. (The thing between S and L was really ugly since S loved L and her brother a lot. L had hurt S by misusing her name.) I was pretty shocked myself when I heard that L was going to secure an act for us. But, I’m always happy when those who left the youth start getting involved again. Quite upset S told me not to talk rubbish. I was taken aback by her outburst. She excused herself from the meeting and high tailed it out of there. We concluded the meeting and met S outside.
As a fail safe we asked a housemate of one of the team members to go on standby for us. We would confirm it on Wednesday morning. D had to let me know if the two acts confirmed by 10 am. I called her at 11:15am to find out. None had gotten back yet. D’s sister had been scheduled to sing for one of the two “special item” slots but due to her illness she couldn’t make it. That’s why we were looking for a replacement act. D asked me to ask the stand-in to prepare one item only. I, in my wisdom, asked the stand-in to sing two items. After D confirmed that the pianist and his cousin would perform, I informed D and the housemate of the stand-in about my error in judgment. I also gave D the housemate’s number telling her to communicate with him directly. (I panicked there for a bit, but I asked God to give me wisdom to handle the situation correctly.)
That Wednesday night everything went smoothly. It was then that I told about my conversation with D and asked her to speak to D. S refused out of fear of saying something she would later regret.
Everything went well Thursday night too (333 DTG). We had refreshments to which everyone on the team contributed. S supplied cocktail bread with various toppings, tea, milk and sugar while the rest of us supplied biscuits. D brought juice. Su and Sh arranged the refreshments. The pastor was really glad about this opportunity to meet the people. It rained cats and dogs so not many of the attendees stayed for refreshments.
Tonight (332 DTG) we had a small hiccup. The pastor ran late, the team mate who saw to the slide show ran very late, the head of family ministries in our church didn’t get a chance to speak since it was not included in the slide show, and the guest artist for tonight only sang one song when he was supposed to sing two. The congregation sang Heart of Worship in the open slot.
One member of the praise tried to convice D that she should sing in that slot even if it was only Amazing Grace but D refused. Seeing that D’s mind was made up, I told him that no amount of asking or begging would persuade D to sing. She is one of those people that rigidly obey Newton’s Third Law of Motion which says,
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” –from The Physics Classroom
D agreed. But her point was not that she was stubborn. She was not prepared to sing. She kept saying that voice was the same as any other musical instrument. You need to practice before a performance. It isn’t just a matter of going on stage and singing your heart out. It became clear that D and S would never reconcile on this point while the team mate understood D better.
I had to say thank you to everyone who participated in the programme. I prayed earnestly that God would help me do say thank you to the people. I don’t usually do the thanks at events. When I do, I try to finish as quickly as possible. This makes it seem cold and unemotional. But tonight was different. God answered my prayers. A warmth characterised my voice as I thanked the contributors and participants from my heart. I even blessed the pastor and mothers (since it’s Mothers Day weekend). Blessing the mothers was unplanned.
I’m grateful that God helped me and my team safely through this week. I’m grateful that God blessed this mini-campaign and kept the team together even though it seemed as if Satan would have the upper hand. I’m grateful that He blessed those who attended and that He guided the pastor in the presentation and preparation of the messages. I am grateful for His patience and for the work He performed on my character–a work that is very important to me.
And I thank you for your patience as my posts have become irregular.
Here is the final part of the 353-344 DTG (days to go) series.
Such a lot happened today (349 DTG). Talk about drama! And church politics! I know that it’s not good practice to vent like I will but I need to. So, count yourselves privileged to being privy to my thoughts. 🙂
The short story
As you know, our youth had to organise a mini-campaign earlier this year. We postponed it to 3-9 May because three of the speakers cancelled and the team member in charge of music didn’t do her job. I took the postponement to the church board which okayed it. The original plan was to have the mini-campaign run from 4-10 May but the speaker we got could not preach on 10 May. He was available for the evenings of 3-9 May. So we secured him for that. We tried to get a speaker to end off the mini-campaign Saturday, 10 May. He is a very popular speaker being the director of the youth in our conference. But since he couldn’t speak on 10 May, he cancelled a long standing engagement so that he could preach on 3 May. My cousin (a.k.a. S) called me one Wednesday in March informing me of this.
I immediately called the youth elder and the head elder asking them if we could swap the speaker scheduled to preach on for 3 May to preach on 10 May so that the Conference Youth Director could speak on 3 May to launch the mini-campaign. They were supposed to get back to me that Saturday. I did not follow protocol by asking the head elder but I saw no choice because the youth elder disappointed us previously in a matter that concerned the speakers for Divine Service at church. Alas, they did not get back to me on time. We were still sorting the preaching schedule out tonight.
After the youth executive committee decided to postpone the mini-campaign, the church board met. In the church board meeting, the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan asked whether the speaker we got to preach on 15 March would still preach on 10 May as he’d been scheduled. No one responded. He phrased the question in such a way that it seemed to be a problem. So, I saw an opportunity and seized it. I told the church board that it worked out well since we, as youth, usually get two church days for the annual mini-campaign. We already used one church day. Therefore, it would be fitting if our speaker for the week could preach on 10 May too. The church board was fine with it.
I then called the preacher, a pastor (not the Conference Youth Director), and confirmed that he would conduct the mini-campaign. He said that he would not be able to preach on 10 May but would see if he could organise something. I told him that it was alright, that we would get someone to preach on 10 May. And that is how we got the Conference Youth Director involved.
Since someone had already been confirmed to preach on 3 May and the Conference Youth Director could only come on 3 May, we approached our youth elder to solve the matter among the elders. He willingly took the matter up.
A church community meeting was held in which church members were informed of church business. The matter was mentioned at a church community meeting (where members are informed about church business) and the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan said that he would contact me. I did not attend that meeting and waited a week and a half before I called him!
He didn’t even remember his decision to call me! So, I had to fill him in from the beginning. He said that he was going to call the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan. I was amazed! Why did he carry the title when he didn’t do the work? I wondered.
Not much time passed before the real elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan called me to verify what transpired. He wasn’t pleased. I explained the situation to him. He said that he wouldn’t cancel the speaker of 3 May because the appointment had already been confirmed.
I then spoke to my team who said that they would not cancel with the Conference Youth Director. S was adamant because she begged him with tears in her eyes to preach that day.
Again I called the youth elder to speak to the elders to sort the matter out. We requested that the elders cancel with the Conference Youth Director because we were too ashamed to do so. The preaching plan was their baby anyway. We thought the matter was sorted.
A fateful Wednesday
A week or two later, S, along with the head deacon and pastor of our church, witnessed an argument between the head elder and the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan after prayer meeting. The head elder wanted the Conference Youth Director to preach while the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan said no. The pastor, according to S, said that the youth were entitled to having their preacher(s) preach on two church days for their mini-campaign whether the campaign was postponed or not. The elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan wasn’t happy.
Soon after this, the youth elder called me to hear what the arrangements were for the mini-campaign. I told him the whole story leaving out the events that transpired that fateful Wednesday night after prayer meeting. He said that he would take the matter up. He actually wanted to hear about the preacher for 3 May. He assured me that the Conference Youth Director would preach on 3 May. He said that the head elder had spoken to him already and confirmed. However, it turned out that the head elder had spoken to the pastor who would conduct the mini-campaign. I kept my team in the loop every step of the way but did not tell them of the confusion between the two mini-campaign speakers. It would only ruffle their feathers.
So, on Sunday passed (352 days to go), the youth elder invited the youth executive committee to a meeting with the elders. I informed my team immediately. One promptly excused herself. This morning (349 days to go) I reminded my team about the meeting with the elders before prayer meeting tonight.
So, S responded to the whatsapp text “Who is you[r] exec, , unfortunately, I can’t make it tonight”.
I said, “We all serve on the exec [cuz]”.
The girl (she’s a woman actually) who excused herself from the meeting reminded us of that fact. This girl’s cousin also excused himself. I was fine with that.
Later that day, I informed them about the music. The pianist we had initially asked to play had told me that he would not be able to play anymore because it was crunch time for him. (I reported that it was crunch time for him that week, but now I remember that the whole month of April was crunch time for him so he wouldn’t have time to practice. It amounts to the same thing though since he does not play without practicing with the praise team first.) I told them that the pianists I got as substitutes were only availabe for certain nights and that there would be two nights where they could not play due to prior engagements. The team was shocked. My cousin (S) belittled me in the Instant Messaging group when she said the following, “E, [you] did not listen to A properly, he is available that week just specify which days, A and N already spoke how they are going to do this..please [don’t] let this thing be disorganized // Talk to A properly and listen”
“S, that is what he said to me, but I will contact him again // That is why I don’t want to be involved with the music,” I said.
“They spoke on Sabbath in front of me [about] how they’re going to do this.”
“I see,” I said.
“This is actually D’s baby so D please lead.”
“Guys, chil,” D said. “I will speak to A.”
My cousin, the girl who excused herself from tonight’s meeting and I all were happy with this arrangement.
As I said before, I’m a reluctant leader. I don’t like the responsibility but when things don’t get done I will usually step in to see that they are done. But, S’s comments really upset me. They shook me to the core. They sent me into a flat spin. I was so angry, so hurt, so upset that I couldn’t help the profanities that escaped my thoughts although I apologised to God for them. I just wanted to cry. I cried in my soul. I really felt like quitting. Who was she to speak to me like that?
On my way home from work, my anger turned to sadness. I questioned my ability to lead. Ever since I decided to quit, I’ve been second guessing my leadership skills. I wondered whether I would ever be successful. I saw how I sat at my desk typing away on my laptop surrounded by a life fraught with failure. I imagined how after this debacle I would resign as youth leader and sideline my whole team. But, I couldn’t hold that vision for long. It was too painful. I couldn’t cut all of them out of my life neither could I only cut my cousin out of my life; it would not be Christlike.
As I walked home, I wondered how people perceived my facial expression. Did I appear angry or sad? My team disappointed me by excusing themselves from tonight’s meeting with the elders. I prayed that God would give me the right tone of voice, facial expressions, body language and words to speak so that I could stand my ground and stand by our request.
I also thought about my ability to take a stand up for my team. I honestly don’t see myself as someone with a backbone. I shy away from conflict as much as possible. The way of the leaf is what I follow (a term I learned from the late Robert Jordan). But, it’s more like the way of the Lamb. When confronted with rage or anger, I’m taken aback. I cower before the torrent of people’s rage. Then, later, I would berate myself for not standing up or saying something. So, no, I don’t have a backbone.
My dad is fond of relating how he put one elder in his place when my dad had just become a youth leader, of sorts. My dad was a 16 year old teenager then. The man was the church’s head elder. But, I could never aspire to back chatting a church elder or responding in anger to one. (My dad made sure to beat that spunk out of me as a kid.) I deal with conflict by enduring the tirade and then stating my case after some time elapsed—usually less than a day.
Once I got home, I sent S a private message telling her that it wasn’t necessary to be rude. She replied, while I related the events of the day to my dad, saying that she was irritated with team mates not doing their job and thus shove their responsibilities onto the rest of us. At that moment I wanted to tell her why I intervened, but my dad said that I should not respond.
Before the tribunal
My sister and I left soon after this so that I could meet with the elders. Another cousin of ours was there. I was surprised to see him. We met the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan outside of the church. He had rushed to unlock the church but found it already unlocked by the youth elder who had a set of keys. The youth elder, it turned out, did not inform the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan about the meeting the youth executive committee was to have with the elders. I wanted to tell the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan about the meeting but it wasn’t my place. And since the situation among the elders is quite volatile, I decided not to. I don’t want to cause conflict.
He wondered why my cousin and I stood in the foyer of the church. When he asked whether we were going to have a meeting, I could not deny it. I told him that we were meeting with the elders. The youth elder entered the foyer at that moment and explained the reason for the meeting. The elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan, while looking at me, said that he had already discussed the matter with me. I confirmed this and said that I had informed the youth elder. The two elders went to speak outside the church. I took the opportunity to point out to my cousin, who also serves on the youth executive committee, that they didn’t even invite the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan to the meeting. That elder did not stay for prayer meeting. He sped off as soon as his conversation with the youth elder was done.
My cousin and I waited in the foyer until another elder came. He was the one who I was told arranges the preaching plan. He was invited to the meeting and actually chaired it. The youth elder brought him up to speed in another room of the church while my cousin and I waited for them in the pews. The head elder had also been invited but he did not pitch. The meeting took place without him.
The chair person recapped the story. He gave me an opportunity to complete it. I stated that my team and I relinquish to the elders the responsibility of informing the Conference Youth Director that the church does not want him to preach because the preaching plan is their responsibility. We thought that we did the church a favour by securing the Conference Youth Director for Saturday, 3 May since the elder-in-charge-of-the-preaching-plan couldn’t get a hold of him. I confirmed that the Conference Youth Director was going to open the mini-campaign and the other pastor will conduct the rest of the campaign. Our position was that if they decided to cancel with him, they were the ones who should inform him. We begged him to come. He cancelled another appointment in order to preach by us. We could not now turn around and say that he couldn’t come anymore.
The chairperson rephrased what I said adding that we insist that he should preach that day. But I just restated what I had already said. He then said that the elders will decide the matter and will inform us of their decision.
The mini-campaign is less than two weeks away.
I saw the meeting as a total waste of time. I didn’t tell my cousin that.
On the operating table
During the post-meeting analysis with my parents and sister, they strongly advised me to quit. My dad said that the elders were out to tear me down due to my pedigree and the role I play in the youth leadership. My mom said that my team mates were using me, making me the fall guy. “It was really bad of them to not pitch for tonight’s meeting,” they said. “S who invited the Conference Youth Director was supposed to be there.” I didn’t tell them that the cousin who was there basically said that I was the middle man in this situation having to do the dirty work of both parties. I didn’t tell him that I felt like I was trying to save a sinking ship. When I used this simile with my dad tonight, he said that I was not the captain of the ship. It was not my job.
At the end of this whole fiasco, one thing is certain: I will hand in my resignation as youth leader at the end of the mini-campaign. My mom doesn’t want me to tell the team that I will resign, but I will tell them just before I email the letter to the elders and the church clerk. My parents have been pleading with me to give up church leadership positions so that I could focus on my studies, but for the past three years,I did not listen to them. The time has come to follow their advice. Whether I’m a good leader or not, I still don’t know. I see myself as a follower. My heart isn’t in this leadership post anymore because my team mates aren’t doing their bit. Some didn’t even inform me that they wouldn’t be able to make it tonight!
One last thing before I go, upon telling my dad that I feel as if I’ll be running away, he said that I won’t be not running away. I’ll be doing what is best for me because the elders are out to sabotage me and my team. They are just the sort of people who will stop at nothing to tear people down because they want to be number 1.
A work in progress
So, with this account, some of you might feel that your sentiments toward Christ and Christianity are validated. But don’t let their example, or mine, put you off from following Christ. Look at James and John, the sons of Zebedee, and Peter before Pentecost! I am no saint and neither were they! The elders of my church aren’t saints either. But, we’re following Christ as best we can. I don’t know what goes on in their hearts, only God knows. The intentions behind my actions and their interpretations of my action might very well be diametrically opposed. To them, I might even be the villain. So, don’t judge them.
Every church and every religion has some form of power struggle taking place in its ranks. It’s everywhere! Yet, I am reminded of when Christ asked Peter if he loves Him, to feed His sheep, and to follow Him (John 21), Peter looked back at John. He asked Jesus what would happen to John. Christ just said that Peter shouldn’t worry about John. If He decided John should live forever, then, that’s between Him and John. All Peter must do is to follow Christ, to keep his eyes on Him and, thereby, be a true disciple of Christ.
Their attitude and ineptitude won’t keep me from Christ. I realise that it’s part of the human condition and is exactly why Jesus came to die on the Cross. It’s the reason why He took my sins, and their sins, upon Him so that we all might live a life according to the Divine Model. We will never be morally perfect this side of Heaven. So, cut them some slack. You and I are no better. We all need salvation from sin and from self.
The wisdom of posting this will prove itself in the end.
My apologies for not posting once in the last nine days. I’ve written two posts in that time but did not get around to publishing it. I’m actually a little stressed about posting because I have so much to say that I don’t have anything to say. Put differently, so much has happened that I don’t know where to start.
But, I will start here. We had a long weekend. Tomorrow I will go back to work to finish a mountain of work before my contract expires on 30 April. I have to cut the audios of four programmes and apply some EQ (equalisation) to all seven tracks. Once that is done, I will add the jingle we use, send the podcasts to our consultant to hear what he says. I’m a little stressed but I’m glad that my sister will join me at work. I don’t want to be alone at work late at night. It’s creepy.
The youth group camped this weekend in a very remote place. We had a jam-packed programme planned but in the end we just chilled. My friend and I conducted a study on Jesus and the Law of Moses in the context of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17-48). It was pretty awesome. God really led the discussion. It was vibrant and almost everyone commented. My favourite part of the discussion–the one on which I was the most knowledgeable–was oath taking. Let our ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and ‘no’ mean ‘no’.
On the camp I came face to face with a weakness of mine: my need for approval. I spoke about this flaw on a previous occassion [which I will link to later]. The aim of the camp was to encourage revival among the youth. We thought that everyone on the youth executive committee (excom) was on board with this. Everyone was except the person in charge of music. We had awesome worship services the Friday night, Saturday morning and afternoon. But Saturday she insisted on playing jazz. The excom member who organised the camp asked her many times to change the music but she refused. She saw no wrong in it. When I saw the change in the atmosphere I became upset. I keenly felt the pressure to do something as youth leader.
So, I took myself out of the situation. I walked outside into the cold night. Out in the darkness, I looked up at the star-filled night sky and begged God to help me make the right choice. I did not want to cause a scene. I did not want to upset people or be seen as a spoil sport. Yet I could not let them break with the theme. Secular music had no place at the camp.
I then asked the team mate to change the music back to what it was. She was upset and challenged me to change it. Her tone was sharp and her voice was raised. I backed off. I hung around the organiser of the camp looking for help. The organiser finally took charge and told the girl to change the music back. She did so under much protest saying that she didn’t understand what the big deal was.
What upset me the most about the situation was that she, the worship leader, started the whole secular music thing and then she went outside where some of the youth were singing some gospel songs.
After this incident, I was disappointed in myself. I compared the situation to king Saul who on account of pleasing the people sacrificed a calf when it wasn’t his duty or his place to do it. The prophet Samuel had told him to wait for him because Samuel would sacrifice the calf. But to appease the people who had grown restless, king Saul disobeyed a direct command from God in the Mosaic Law (only priests and prophets were allowed to sacrifice animals) and a direct command from God through Samuel the prophet.
I was like Saul. I broke. I did not sob because I was still in hearing from the house. But in my soul I sobbed and begged God to change me. I hate being a people pleaser. Yes, it makes me sensitive to others, but it also stops me from doing the right thing and from being myself.
Despite all of this, the youth really enjoyed the camp. We didn’t get much sleep the Friday night. The guys kept each other awake while the ladies spoke till 3am Saturday morning. The Saturday night all of us slept like logs. Early Sunday morning, another guy and I hiked down to the river. The place had some beautiful waterfalls which I photographed. The others hiked up the mountain.
The youth were really amazed at how much I spoke. A friend and I spoke the whole way to the place. We have a lot in common. Saturday night I found out that he also sleeps nude like me. I thought it was cool because he is a deeply spiritual person. There was a twin on the camp. They are his bosom buddies actually. We joked that we were as similiar as what the twins looked.
All in all the camp was good. The youth really enjoyed it. The vibe was great even though it rained on Saturday. We all accepted the rain as part of nature. It was part of the experience. We praised God for every aspect of nature we beheld and experienced.
To be continued . . .
A group that made great in roads in contemporary Christian music during the 1990s is 4Him. Today we’re featuring one of their cathiest, most heart-warming, and faith-kindling songs: Where There Is Faith.
Here’s Ray Boltz singing I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb. The song reminds me of what’s in store for God’s people closer to the end of time.
Here’s Take 6 with a gospel classic If We Ever Needed the Lord Before.