|Leaders from Dere congregation|
Each visit is different than the other. There are some basic teachings which I see is important everywhere like: What is the calling of the Church and in particular a member of the church? What is church?
What stood out this time is the discussion about God that is good! The more I am talking to the congregations about this fact the more I am convinced that this is very close to the heart of Christianity. Naturally you first have to see God through faith as the most real reality. Without this basis, it is very difficult to talk about and evaluate what is in His heart. The other challenge when speaking to the rural elders en members of these congregations is the fact that the word good has a total other meaning. It varies in meaning depending in what relationship it is used. The act or idea that you are evaluating can be a bad thing, but because the person you are communicating to, like it, it is a good thing. The reason for this is because it is all about relationships. Therefore also, some things that are bad, can, in a specific relationship, be good. To understand how the universal good, looks like, is very difficult to comprehend.
In the discussions this is an interesting topic to start to understand that there are some things that are always good and to find some of them.
One example is to explain God’s heart from a word in Fil 2:1. In Chewa is used the word “Chisomo” and in Lolo they use the word “Tankarika”. (Hope I remember correctly the Lolo word). We tried to explain the meaning in different ways. One way was to first explain the position of us as humans before God. Firstly we are guilty and killed His son etc. What reaction do we expect from God? We also compare it with human reactions in similar situations. Looking also at vers 6-7 to see how Jesus gave up His position. Because position here is also power, there is an understanding that He gave His power to us by becoming our slave. Then, if we understand correctly vers 1, He came and not only saw our struggles and pain, as result of our own strife, but He also feels it. He feels it not only then but today. Not only there, but here. Then He takes that pain and suffering and make it His own. We compare that with situations in this area, where people can make the suffering of others, their own. Not avoiding it as the custom, but go there confront and make it your own. To see God kneeling before us, without judging (Joh 3:17), but to save and help us. He also see and feel our suffering, not avoiding it. He then takes it on Himself and gave us the capacity to change it. That is always good if you do that.
Now we can add, if that is good, God is ALWAYS good. He does not change. If this is understood, it is clear that there are differences in the way that the spirits is handling their children and how God is handling His children.
From this understanding I try to take the conversations to things like: God, because He is good, intends for us an better life than the one we are living. We have to make our own choices, but to gain this life we need to give our life away. It means like Jesus giving away power and position to others. Other things are to be different than the world in leadership of service etc. There are so many applications of this basic understanding and I try to add as much applications as the time and process can provide.
The attitude is not to tell people what to do, but bring a basic biblical understanding on which they can base their own decisions. To evaluate what happens in lives of people is difficult, but how nice to see that biblical ideas make people exited. I will allow myself to say: Rural people living simple lives and with little understanding of a wider world, science, etc.