The long-awaited letter has finally arrived, and I'm about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting Methodist Church of Southern Africa as a Phase One Probationer!
But once the family tears, shouts of joy, and numerous telephone calls had passed, my mind drifted back to this year's Synod, when Bishop Paul Verryn was outlining the covenental relationship between the MCSA and its clergy.
His words are as clear in my mind as though he was sitting there, speaking there as I type: "As those who wish to enter ministry, we believe that we are called by God to this great task. The role of the Church is to create a space for us to explore this call, develop it, and ultimately fulfil it."
I am so thankful to God for placing this call on my life to minister to God's people. I still question at times - why me, Lord? I'm just a dumb accountant. I have a short fuse. I'm not the world's best when it comes to pastoral work. But then again, look what You were able to do with the disciples! All I ask is that You keep me hungry for Your Word, eager to do Your will, and to have a heart for Your people.
I am also thankful to the Methodist Church which, as Bishop Verryn has put it, "created the space" in response to God's call. No doubt I will make mistakes, and believe me I'll speak my mind if I feel it is warranted, but I'll try my level best not to let the Church down.
I'm thankful to the congregations in Uitenhage that are currently preparing to receive me. God calls, the MCSA "creates the space", but it is the generosity of a local congregation that provides ministers with the physical means with which to fulfil God's call. And while I journey along this road, I'll be sheltered, fed, and clothed thanks to this generosity. Heaven help me if I should ever abuse this privilege!
I'm thankful to my family, who have supported me through the journey thus far. There will be some difficult years ahead, particularly as they won't be joining me initially. While the probation journey is exciting, it's also disruptive with the MCSA taking "here I am, send me" quite seriously. With my son being in Grade 4 at the moment, frequent changes of school at this stage would wreak havoc with his education, and for this reason I'll only consider relocating my family once my "happy wanderings" become less frequent.
There are many other people who have influenced my life and supported me along the way, but this post is already beginning to look like an Oscar acceptance speech. I've thanked most of you in person, and be assured that I thank God for you.
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