Michael Frost told a story of one megachurch that padded out a team with millions of dollars and sent them to a slum in India. The team flew over and swept in triumphantly, gathering the residents to tell them the glad tidings of their arrival and what they were planning to do.
They asked the people of the slum what they’d like built for them. The residents thanked them for their offer but replied “thanks, but what we really need is a postbox”. Thinking the poor people really weren’t getting it these christian aid workers started again. “No no no, we have millions of dollars, we can build you anything you like. What do you want, a hospital? A school? An orphanage?” The residents insisted a postbox was all they wanted.
It turns out in the Indian bureaucratic system people can only get government services and infrastructure if they have a postcode, and postcodes come with postboxes. Many slums are off the welfare-map for this reason.
It took them five years to squeeze their way through the labyrinthine processes of Indian bureaucracy. They could have built them the most amazing hospital and no one would have wanted it.
We’re not living in a slum, but this is one thing all of us are hearing God say to each of us personally: “build brotherhood together, be in the light with one another and listen to your neighbours.” We need to find out what good news sounds like to our neighbours.
Sir William Osler, the guy who invented the stethoscope said “listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”.
We’re starting to settle into some kind of rhythm, while enjoying the free-flow of flexibility too.
It’s really enjoyable to take each week as it comes, not entirely prepared but trusting the team. We’ve had some great evenings together with no one particularly leading things but everyone semi-spontaneously contributing.
Last Saturday we had a leaving-do for John (he’s off to Uni) and managed to cram seventeen of us around the dinner table.