listen to me as when of old our father
sang songs of other shores
listen to me and then in chorus gather
all your deep voices as you pull your oars
fair these broad meads, these hoary woods are grand
but we are exiles from our native land
The next part of our journey was a week in Dubbo, and I attended electives while Vanessa read glorious self-help books. It was a full week, and many thoughts darted around my consciousness. Plenty to dwell on.
One thing that stood out was that both of my lecturers spoke of a book called Miracle on the River Kwai. It is the story of Japanese prisoner-of-war camps in World War II and the way prisoners found hope and gave dignity to one another by seeking and sowing seeds of faith, hope and love. When I got home I found this story in our team library. I recommend it to anyone who has done team, is doing team or wants to see the gospel at work practically. There are lots of inspiring stories and examples to follow.
One idea I am currently chewing over is the connections between security, relationship and belonging. After returning to England the POWs experience a culture shock and they are forced to confront certain realities about the emptiness of their culture. Those of us on team see ourselves as 'missionaries' to a culture that seeks 'security' above all else. Ernest Gordon sums it up in strong terms...
"Everyone spoke of seeking security. But what did security mean but animal comfort, anesthetised souls, closed minds and cold hearts? It meant a return to the cacophonous cocktail party as a substitute for fellowship, where, with glass in hand, men would touch one another but never meet... In short, it meant flight from God and descent into the hell of loneliness and despair."
How do we, like these men, implement the practises of the gospel in a culture infused withthe value of security? I am feeling quite stumped until I remember that I probably should go read the gospels a bit and learn from the Master.
Extracts from Ernest Gordon, Miracle on the River Kwai, Tyrell house, Illinois, 1962.