Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Kenya 4 - Worship and reflection

I have not had time to write about the actual conference. So you can taste its flavor, I append short excerpts from our Morning Reflections in plenary. More links are being added on saltandlight2012.org along with photos and videos.
  • Esther Mombo  of FWCC Africa, 18 Apr 23Apr
Being Salt and Light: Friends living the Kingdom of God in a broken world
In the metaphor of Jesus(Matthew 5: 13-16 ) if the salt has lost its taste it has no use but to be trampled upon by our feet. Or the light is lit and hidden under a bushel….This is what I call the challenge of preaching and living what we preach. In these days of statistics, Christians may pride themselves on numbers... The issue is not the numbers but the influence.
[At a hotel restaurant in Guatemala City] there came a group of men dressed in black, with high caliber guns and ski masks. They shouted at us: "Where is (the owner several times, shooting everywhere… two men who were in front of me fell to the floor, spilling blood. I don't know how I did it, but I put myself underneath the table and covered myself with the tablecloth which hung down to the floor… they killed the hotel's owner, her daughter and a medical visitor who was a guest. Then, they came back to shoot, again, two men lying three to five steps away… to make sure that there were no witnesses at all… God made them blind and saved my life and I still can't understand how it was. I am very weak in such circumstances, very expressive when things happen. I am very enthusiastic... I am a weeper in affliction…I do not repress my feelings. How could I stay so calm? … For what purpose did God keep me?
In 1696 Samuel Bownas went to Meeting. A woman he had never met rose and pointed at him, "A typical Quaker, thou comest to meeting as thou went from it the last time, and goes from it as thou came to it, but art no better for thy coming - What wilt thou do in the end?"
  • Jocelyn Burnell of Britain, FWCC Europe Middle East Section (EMES) 19 Apr
…if our community (the world body of Friends) is saved, what does it mean? And what are the marks of a community that is saved? I think it means:
-          We are united with God – we work in God’s strength
-          We listen to God – follow God’s promptings.
-          We listen to each other, for God’s promptings may come through other people.
-          We respect the diversity amongst us – not everyone has the same gifts or the same callings and we know there are many ways to God.
I mentioned earlier that I am a scientist; I am also a woman, and there aren’t so many women scientists. A lot of my life is trying to make things easier for women to be scientists and to encourage those who already are. It has become clear that businesses, research groups, all sorts of organisations that have women as well as men in their senior positions are more flexible, more robust and more successful…. I celebrate diversity in the Religious Society of Friends.

  • Pradip Kumar Lamichhane of Nepal, FWCC Asia West Pacific Section (AWPS) 20 Apr
During my childhood and teenage years, I experienced poverty, crying every day for food, so I understand what a small help can change the life of people and bring peace and joy…. we must also avoid the error of being one with the world and embracing its values and ways…. My friends ask why I am still in Nepal as I have valid visa for the US and UK. I tried to answer them that I am really OK here. They think I am a fool and I think they are mistaken. I am happy as I am, I will try to make a difference from where I am and what I have. I am happy to support my church as I can. I am happy I am able to send a few poor children to school. I am happy I am able to run small NGO to support poor people. I am happy I am able to feed my old parents. Others helped me to be an “green IT” guy, so I help others so they could help more people. It is like a gospel which keeps on spreading. I share this experience with others and encourage them to do the same - help others as you have been helped.
I was tasked to give a presentation about the Kingdom of God. You may notice that Filipinos are happy despite the raging price hikes, … lack of employment … recent [tsunamis, storms and floods] … separation of family members caused by emigration for job opportunities—these are just VERY FEW examples of the problems a typical Filipino is facing. But regardless of all these, the joy of the fact that we are still breathing, that we are still able to wake up in the morning to experience God's grace in our lives….  the Kingdom is inside us,.. God is reigning in our hearts… He is in full control of our lives. This is because Jesus Christ has come into our lives when we accepted Him as our personal Lord and Savior. …living out the kingdom within us.
E oku tuakana, e oku tuahine, kua tae mae nei I tenei ra – nga mihi nui ki a
koutou katoa. Ngā mihi nui ki a Io, nāna te kore, nāna te pō, nāna hoki te ao i whakatinana.
E mihi ana, e mihi ana. Ngā mihi nui ki te mana whenua o te rohe nei. E mihi ana, e mihi ana. Ko Te Haahi Tuuhauwiri te iwi.Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.
To translate, I began by giving praise to God the Creator – “from you came potential, the night, and this world you have populated”. I then greeted our hosts, the Kenyans, the peoples who nurture the Spirit of this land.
I also greeted all of us gathered here today as one tribe, what I called Te Haahi Tuuhauwiri. This is the Māori name for Quakers in Aotearoa. It translates literally as “the faith community that stands shaking in the wind of the Spirit.”
  • retiring General Secretary, Nancy Irving  23Apr
Are  you the same as when we arrived here last week? How has God been working through you and within you? It is not always pleasant or pretty. Sometimes it takes some pain or some anger to crack us open like an egg, so that the work God has been doing inside of us can come out. Much as I am grateful for the changes and depth of my spiritual life, I still resist it. I want God to have me come to a nice place of comfort where I can stay awhile. I get scared of how I might be led to change. I get scared that God will ask me to do something I really don't want to do. I sometimes turn off my ears to God's voice – I go to Meeting on Sunday and think about some committee work or how nice the weather is. I don't want to be changed. I am often like Samuel Bownas from Noah's story. So here we are – a people in the midst of change as we deepen our faith – we will always be changing if we are faithful to that Voice within us….

In our Home Group after each day’s Worship and Reflections each day, we exchanged personal stories – some extremely moving ones by those who have experienced genocide and reconciliation – which we agreed to keep confidential. However, you can read the stories of Quaker Peace Teams throughout central Africa using HROC-AVP, in David Zarembka’s new book A Peace of Africa.

We had daily thread groups (later, I will report on the Global Change one) and interest groups. Some examples from over 50 workshops: climate, food security and deadly conflict in Africa; prison visits; HROC -- healing and reconciliation in our communities; AVP -- alternatives to violence; socially responsible banking; Bio-Sand water filters; Beyond us and them -- working among different kinds of Quakers,  and interfaith; the message of early Friends; faith in action worldwide; peacebuilding; youth ministries in Latin America; eschatology and utopia; Quaker women sharing our gifts; Being salt and light; FCNL, QUNO and QCEA; interfaith community building.

And always, intense discussions in every corner – at meals – in the dorms and quads – weaving the threads together – worship sharing and the sound of singing-dancing-praise songs from Kenyan Friends. At points the dance-worship involved everyone in the immense auditorium. See the videos.

No comments: