Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Troy Checks In
Matthew 7:7-8 - Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (NIV)
No time to write lately - we're like a whirling dervish, spinning about. On the family front - all is well. Actually things are looking good on all fronts. It has been a busy week, I feel like it should be Friday by now.
Last Saturday we hosted the monthly Pastor's Training Seminar. It has been a blessing and a challenge for me to be stretched in that way - I never felt called to be a Pastor, let alone be called to minister to Pastors and preach to them. God, of course, is faithful - and always gives us what we need for any task He assigns. And then I think He chuckles a little bit while He watches me squirm and fret during those times when I'm freaking out about what He's asked me to do.
I usually at some point in the day have to plead with someone to stop calling me "Pastor", and have even resorted to telling them that I prefer being called "blan" to that. We usually settle for "brother" instead. The pastor title makes me uncomfortable, and I'm always reminding them that we are all brothers - serving one Master. While living here, I've come across too many men caught up in their own importance (both Haitian and foreign missionary alike) who relish the title and all it's trappings. In Haiti, many people assume that all white people are pastors, and there are many self-proclaimed and self-ordained preachers around the country. The title is thrown around a little too freely in my opinion.
This is the sixth or seventh seminar where I've had the privilege of sharing God's Word with real Pastors and Church Leaders from all over the central part of Haiti. We've had over 80 in attendance for the last few months. Each month I prepare and study, and seek God's will for what these men need to hear...and each time I begin the session by praying for the Holy Spirit to guide us in our study of the Word and use me as He sees fit. The next three hours always fly by and go in all kinds of directions that I am never prepared for. God, of course, is faithful - and it has always turned out better than I ever expect. I usually leave the seminar exhausted and exhilarated, and wondering how the time went by so fast. (I have realized, however, that preaching through a translator for three hours is really only like preaching for half of that time - I must admit that it's nice to have the extra time between phrases to compose my next thought.)
Sometimes I'll ask rhetorical questions, to which the answer seems obvious... and either get no answer at all - just blank stares....or sometimes a handful of the absolute wrong answers shouted out. That frustrates and amuses me all at once. The seminar always ends with a question and answer session that is composed of questions about the material - good, honest, sincere questions on spiritual matters....and then the other half is grand-standing and trying to start debates with other Pastors over petty things, asking for handouts, and airing personal/political problems and gossip. I almost always have to step in and announce that lunch is ready and ask them to please take their discussions elsewhere. This also frustrates and amuses me all at once.
It's part of what everyone around here - especially the Haitians - call The Haitian System. Sometimes it seems like that phrase is used to describe things that don't make any sense at all...or something that looks to me like a total disaster.
Here's what makes it all worthwhile:
Monday morning a Pastor walked with a crippled leg for two hours down a steep and rocky mountain path to the mission - and he didn't come to ask for a thing other than questions on the spiritual topics discussed during the seminar. He told me that God had called him to be Pastor of his congregation - something he never aspired to and still didn't feel like he knew how to do - and I knew exactly what he meant. Then he told me that without the spiritual feeding, encouragement, and fellowship of the Pastor's Trainings each month, he doesn't think he could do it. That was humbling, and scary, and now I know that next month I'll be as nervous as ever and counting on God to do it all.
-Not Pastor Troy