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Saturday, April 10, 2010

A little fire kindles

This past week in our Life Together study, we focused on the tongue, that little fire that kindles great forests (James 3).  WHM employs in our training a famous homework called "the tongue assignment" :  for one week do not gossip, complain, put anyone down, defend yourself, etc.  The impossibility of it drives us to grace; and an analysis of WHY we want to speak so often on our own behalf reveals our real values.  Bonhoeffer writes about holding one's tongue, meekness, and listening as the foundation for true ministry.  This is a risky study, and a risky assignment:  as a leader, of course, we have to be the first ones to repent.  So in the group I found myself telling stories about what the Spirit had revealed during the week: as visitors came, I saw how I lay out our ministry or tell stories of the past in a way that makes me look good and puts down people who have been difficult.  I don't listen when I assume I know what someone else (usually Scott) is going to say.  I was critical of one of my students until later I realized that his complaints were legitimate, I had forgotten a promise I made.  I use my tongue to be the opposite of meek:  to defend and promote and justify myself.  Not lovely.  

It is also a risky topic cross-culturally.  We wondered, would anyone relate to this, or is it too abstract?  But God is answering prayer, and on the move.  One of the participants fell under strong conviction about harsh words he had showered on his subordinate, and asked for help in seeking forgiveness and reconciliation.  Angels blew trumpets, I'm sure.  It's not easy to repent anywhere, and moreso in a hierarchical society for an elder to repent in front of a younger man.  Then even more amazingly, he decided to share the story with the whole group, putting himself in a very bad light.  Two others expressed their struggles as well.  Past seminars (Kevin's Sonship and Donovan's Teaching Redemptively) were mentioned, demonstrating that the Word is still slowly percolating, that fruit will still sprout from those days.  

It was a holy evening.  We continue to pray for real all-things-new wholeness in our hearts and our colleagues', the emerging character of leaders that will transform Bundibugyo.  This was a glimpse of the answer.

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