Ive had a dream. Not like Martin Luther King, just an ordinary, though disturbing, fast asleep dream. We were back in Zaire - just returning after furlough. Our house was under repair so we were staying nearby. Its evening I enter our empty house. A noise in the darkness, someone else is there. (This is half dream - half nightmare.) One of the church workmen is bundling up stuff to take home. Ive caught him thieving. As I speak to him - peremptory, commanding, loud voice - others shuffle out of the darkness. I send them away, heads bowed, empty hands, no one meets my eyes.
I return to the other house to tell Barbara (my wife). The room is full of people - the kind of people you meet at a parents evening or village fete. These strangers are playing some silly game. Gambling in our home, for they are betting and wining small sums of money.
That is the dream, but God doesnt send dreams without interpretations.
A waking vision followed the dream. Again, I am back in Zaire, again I "catch"
the workmen, but this time we sit in a circle on the ground. I say:
"Stealing is very wrong among your people."
"Yes, very wrong." The eyes are downcast, bodies slumped.
One man looks up. Our eyes lock.
"We stole to feed our children and buy them medicine.
Our poverty and your wealth, made us break the rule. We have done great wrong. You came to us with the gospel. In Jesus we are free, in him we are all brothers and sisters.
Your wealth and our poverty, have made you deny the gospel you brought us."
It is my turn to be silent, eyes downcast. Only the grace of God can forgive. Helping others develop the means of living is essential to Christs mission - for he dies to reconcile us to God and to each other. "Jew and Greek, slave and free" ... rich and poor. We cannot preach the gospel unless our actions seek to match our words.
Pray for your missionaries in poor lands. Gods grace to forgive and empower them and those with whom they work. And ask forgiveness for your riches - and mine.
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2002
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