A week in Woodstock

After hitting the publish button on last week’s “A week in Woodstock” post I felt quite good about myself.  It really did look quite good – and I did not even stretch the truth… this time…

And then just to smite my self-righteous heart of stone – the Almighty God sent the flu to dog my steps throughout the week.  Ok maybe one of the kids just caught it at school and brought it home.  So not sure I am going to feel quite as impressed with myself this week.  I suppose I am just going to have to believe the gospel rather than glory in my own self-importance this Monday!

Tuesday Morning was very cold, and 5:45am definitely did not feel like an hour for spiritual matters.  When the alarm went off I was not even convinced I believed in God.  But somehow I got up, coffee definitely helped.  In fact if I was not so convinced of the wonder, majesty and love of Christ – I may have converted then and there to the worship of the coffee bean.  But I digress.  It was despite my lack of faith an hour earlier a great time of sharing stories, encouragement and praying together for our community.

Wednesday Morning is Porterbrook time.  Colin and I have finally admitted our fundamental distaste for structures and planning, but like the much maligned brussel sprout we see it’s value and gave Grant a call to help us out.  As Colin rather cynically suggested I would blog about the meeting I think it is fair to mention he was over half an hour late! As a people-person (and an African) it really does not bother me but it really was a great meeting and Colin did not give me any other ammo.  So tardiness it will have to be!

A good morning getting thinking about strucutres, planning, goals, aims, processes and sustainability.  It was exciting to dream a bit and see the value of good processes to facilitate us moving towards them.

Thursday Morning was more time spent in 1 Peter, trying to track big themes, key ideas etc.  Thanks to Colin for some helpful pointers, and giving meat to some of my suspicions.  Should be a post out tomorrow with some of my thoughts so far.  Looking forward to your input.

Thursday Afternoon was another of those key stategy times.  I love the big picture, big picture goals and visions.  I love ideals, principles and dreams.  I hate details, hate those kind of meetings where you have to talk about all the “hows and how nots” of reaching the goals.  Yes if you are wondering I forget names, numbers and prices almost instantly and never know what time anything starts.  It was time to bring in help!  I realise that while organic, simple church definitely suits my strengths it also plays rather spectacularly into my weaknesses.

It was time for coffee at Frangipani’s with Alphonso.  The saying goes that the answer you get always depends on the questions you ask well Al is the guy who always seems to ask just the right questions to make sure you get the right answers. Most of the time, in fact, he just asks me questions and then lets me figure things out for myself.  I always leave glad he is my friend and I do not have to pay him for the interrogation.

And that is about all that is worth recording for this past week…


4 thoughts on “A week in Woodstock

  1. Colin

    Thanks for stopping at the tardiness 🙂 You’re kind.

    Any time with 1 Peter is time well spent, so … anytime. I look forward to your thoughts.

    I told you I went through the message of 1 Peter in China recently with some church leaders, and how very applicable it was – especially how the Spirit if Jesus ministers through us, and despite the opposition and the suffering it can bring, it is ‘the true grace of God’. Well today I spent some time on Skype and email pastoring a young leader who has become my ‘adopted’ daughter. I was amazed at the passion she has for young adults in that country which I call the modern Roman Empire. Her day yesterday ranged from setting up a new library for the church network, to seeing numbers of her new friends in Christ being baptised in the ocean (including an old lady – I have the pic with her coming out of the waves with her walking stick and folk helping her) …

    … to later on ministering at a new family church when a young girl demonstrated signs of demon possession. She was the only ‘mature’ Christian there, and had to pray for this girl who had fallen to the ground and was in a terrible state. The girl recovered slowly, but today, my friend is ill from the energy and emotional drain of the day.

    Stepping into China and living with the unregistered Churches is like stepping back into the first few centuries of the Church. China is powerful and controlling, offering religious freedom to those who belong to religions registered with the state and abiding by the state regulations laid down by a non believer. You are free to hold worship gatherings, but as long as it does not interfere with your patriotism to the state and it’s commitment to Marxist ideology and the teachings of Chairman Mao.

    The unregistered churches choose to live as Chinese patriots, but with Jesus as Lord. They love their country and pray for its leaders while living constantly with the threat of being disliked for their commitment to the gospel and being reported to the police by a neighbour. They are forced to maintain good relations with their neighbours by serving them and loving them … while not shrinking back from leading them to the truth. No Sunday Christianity or a private faith, but public and missional by nature.

    The baptism that took place yesterday was in full view of onlookers at a beach. They rejoiced publicly.

    While teaching on 1 Peter one day, they stopped me in mid sentence and said, ‘now we must discuss’! They proceeded to plan how they could practice what they were hearing. Besides assisting the Pastor’s family to clean the 8 flights of steps in their apartment block as a way to serve his neighbours, they invited a non believing neighbour around for supper that night to introduce her to their Christian family and to present her with the message of God’s love in Christ.

    Another evening included a Communist Party member whom they had never met before! They helped her with some advice about her wayward son and then had her reading the Bible (which she had never seen before). I was nervous! But two days later, she invited me and the others to lunch and let us say grace before eating.

    It was like living in the Empire in one of those small household churches Peter was writing to … ‘you are a royal priesthood … a people belonging to God … that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness … Don’t be surprised when you face trials … as if something strange is happening to you … you participate in the sufferings of Christ … To this you were called … this is the true grace of God’.

    I miss China and the vitality of simple church lived on the edge!



  2. John Post author

    Colin I think your comment may have been longer than the original post. Glad that it could spark those stories – both inspiring and challenging.

    Can I edit your comment into an actual post?


    1. Colin

      ha ha…. sorry. i feel bad.

      I should be blogging this on my site, but go ahead … i am a terrible blogger. try not to add place names if you know them.


  3. Pingback: Experiencing Simple Church in China « a missional life

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