Things have been extremely hectic as my time at the Seminary winds down (and to think I thought life would be a bit calmer once I had completed the BTh phase - eish!), and I find myself making the usual lame excuses for not posting on my blog as regularly as I would like. However, a number of my on-line friends have been asking me what's happening with my stationing for 2012, and now that Conference has come and gone, the embargo has been lifted and I am now free to disclose where I am being sent next year.
God and the Methodist Church have been gracious to post me at Camperdown, which is a smallish town (village?) about 20km south-east of Pietermaritzburg. The location is convenient from the point of view of accessibility to James' school next year, as well as UKZN (although the whole PhD application process has not gone well - more about that in a later post), yet is still far enough away from Pietermaritzburg to give one a sense of being "out in the country".
I have had the privilege of worshipping with the community on a couple of occasions, and thus far my reception has been most welcoming.
There are, of course, some challenges - the main one being that the Circuit's financial position is rather tight at the moment, which means that (initially at least) I will not be receiving a full stipend. My ministry will be of a "tent-making" nature until such time as the Circuit is able to fully support me financially. Yet at the same time I sense a great opportunity, not only to lift my own trust in God to a new level, but also to be an example to people who are also trusting God to do something new and exciting in this church community.
Some have questioned my decision, though, and I suppose that it is understandable in a way. Yet I am at peace with the arrangements in place. After all, how can I with a clear conscience call upon people to put their faith in God by reaching a little deeper into their pockets if I am not willing to do the same? If we are truly to be imitators of Christ, then we need to follow His example. And Jesus' example is this: At no point during His earthly ministry does He call upon anyone to do anything that He has not done first.
As ministers of the Gospel, we would do well to emulate our Lord - after all, it is a known fact that people listen to our sermons with their eyes. They want to see that this stuff we preach is real. And so I relish the challenge that lies in the months ahead ... putting the Seminary learnings into practice, and praying fervently that I don't mess up too badly!
Prayer during difficulty - *"Help us bear difficulty, pain, disappointment, and sorrows, knowing that in Your perfect working and design, You can use such bitter experiences to shap...
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