The Crowded House – Day 11

The day began with a prayer meeting, after which I joined two other ladies, who were also here to experience and learn from TCH, and Bachman, a Kurdish believer, who has been helping out with the TCH Kurdish team.  The training is a kind of introduction to TCH, and covered a lot of ground that I already had thought through but it was really great to chew it over as a group, and think through some of the implications together.

Samuel took us through the story of the Bible.  We spent a considerable amount of time discussing the fact that often there are 2 very different stories which we tell.  The one is that of the individual and God:

God made you, you rebelled against God, God sent Jesus to die in your place so that you may be forgiven, now you have a choice to make.  In this version – church is a help, a very useful and important thing but it is not essential to your identity.

This is not wrong – the gospel story is not less than this but it is also a whole lot more…

The other story is the fuller biblical one of God who is calling a people to himself:

God has made humanity, who rebelled against him, God’s response had been to call into being a new people, a new humanity, beginning with Abraham and the nation of Israel, but they failed to be the faithful people of God.  And so the Father sent Jesus who ultimately is the only faithful Israelite.  On the cross Jesus, takes the punishment for our sins and makes it possible for us to become a part of God’s new family, new community.

The church is not an optional extra or a good help – the church is central and integral to God’s purposes.  We are not called for individuals to get saved for heaven but called to belong to God’s new people and to join with God in his act of restoring and reconciling all things in Jesus through the gospel.

If our primary identity is a communal identity then that has radical implications for how we think about church, spend our money, approach our career, decide where to work, spend our time etc.

I then had lunch with Samuel and Fiona who are busy preparing to go to Iraq for 2 years in order to learn the Kurdish language and culture with a view to returning to Sheffield to live with, minister and love the Kurdish community.

After lunch we went to “hang out” in a “chaigamma” – a Kurdish tea room, this is one of the places where Kurdish men gather daily, especially as many of them are asylum seekers who are unable to work in the UK.  Some of them wait 7-8 years in order to have their case accepted or rejected…

We drank some Kurdish tea and played backgammon, whilst Samuel, who is beginning to get known in the community chatted in Kurdish with various men.  It was encouraging to see how people warmed up to Samuel as he spoke to them (imperfectly) in their own language.  And as he told them of his plans to spend 2 years in Kurdistan.  I was really challenged to work very hard on my Xhosa.

Samuel has been a great encouragement to me as I have seen his great love for the Kurdish people, his willingness to serve them and to meet them on their own territory and to learn their world and their culture.  And all of this with a real gospel edge, a willingness and an intentionality to speak and pray for opportunities to talk to them about Jesus.  And it never felt false or forced to me at all.

Once we left the “chaigamma” we went to another important gathering place for Kurdish men, the barber shop.  I had a really good haircut at Tony’s barber shop, and even had my ear and neck hairs burnt off with a flaming ear-bud.  Strange but true and it works!

That evening I went to another prayer meeting at Bill and Lyssa’s place and then popped in at Guy and Belinda’s place to leave a message.  I ended up staying for a beer and then dinner and a nice relaxing evening.

Still have not been to an English pub…

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~ by John on July 25, 2009.

One Response to “The Crowded House – Day 11”

  1. I like what you say about the church.

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