Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HOPE (joyful, confident expectation in salvation) (03/05/15)
- TITLE: A Crash Course in Theology
By Noel Mitaxa
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This thought crossed my mind whenever I glanced out the window to see the familiar black jacket make its daily trek past our house―two whole blocks―from home to the bar on the corner of our street. This was where Nick, the jacket’s wearer, had found enjoyable but unpaid work.
As its best customer.
Whatever the weather or whoever approached; Nick’s usual reply to any greeting was rarely more than a grunt. But anyone who tried to press him into conversation ran the risk of industrial-strength passive drinking.
Beryl, his wife, epitomised co-dependency: straggly hair, gaunt features and a tired cotton-print dress that hung off her spindly frame―augmented in cold weather by a well-worn coat that she pulled to herself.
She had clearly seen better days. Not many. Not recently. And none on the horizon.
An abattoir was the town’s biggest employer. Irregular work at best; with its small permanent work force at the mercy of strikes that unions manipulated; and seasonal boosts to the numbers.
Low morale and low expectations pervaded the whole district. But you can’t fall off the floor.
Against this setting, our church had begun to grow.
Bob and Betty, a couple from the meat-works responded to the gospel one Sunday. The first Sunday they had come.
The next Sunday they brought some family members along. Who came back and started bringing their friends. Nothing in the church had changed, in its style of worship or in any extra meetings, but suddenly―without any preparation―the place was packed.
Then one Sunday, thirteen people were baptized―which equalled the previous seven years’ aggregate. Word about the changes got around the meat-works and the whole town.
Enter sixteen year-old David; Nick and Beryl’s eldest son. All arms and legs, and sinews. Minimal education, but a spark in his eye seemed to defy the drudgery of his constricted world.
He came to church one week, and the next Sunday he brought his brothers and sisters along; copying the pattern he had picked up from Bob and Betty. Suddenly we had a youth ministry, and the kids were hungry to learn and grow, despite the negative peer-group pressure that suddenly hurtled their way.
As they embraced Jesus’ Lordship, we prepared these kids for baptism.
The whole church celebrated as five of them were immersed one Sunday, though we knew they would face extra challenges. I impressed on church members our need to pray for these kids―especially over the next six weeks. For if Jesus was tested through forty days of fasting before he found Satan inviting himself in on the scene; then we could expect no less opposition on them.
How could I as pastor prepare them for any imminent onslaught? With logical answers and appropriate texts to handle whatever question that might crop up―only to find something coming completely out of the blue?
I need not have worried, for the very next day I saw David surrounded by ridicule as I came out of a shop. He summed up all my theological training and a fair slab of bible input in his reply – which I quote…
“I’d rather be a Christian than a no-hoper!”
Author's note: True story.
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