|This Article is from the Spring 2007 edition of good idea!, also available here in a fully formatted PDF file.|
Missions serve many purposes such as revitalization, vision renewal, and a challenge to discipleship. But, whatever else happens, evangelism is always a central purpose of these events. This is the story of someone who found faith in Christ through parish missions—and the witness of a friend.
My very presence in a room can make clergy tremble with fear. I can raise their hopes as quickly as I can dash them. I am able to wound and torture their sensibilities effortlessly. At my fingertips, I have the power to ruin a well-planned day. Even though I can do all this, I am not a bishop. I am an organist.
Week after week, as I sat perched on the organ bench, I listened to stories from the Bible I had never heard before. My thoughts went a little like this: Who wrote these stories and why? What in heaven’s name was going on with the Psalmist? He was moody and unpredictable—rather like an organist. And who was Jesus? And what did he want with me? You see, I am thirty-eight years old, and I belong to the ever-increasing part of the population which has no Christian memory whatsoever.
No one from church ever talked about Jesus, the Bible or God. I had very simple questions but the Christians around me couldn’t answer them. I started asking the priest questions. After all, he spoke with integrity and I trusted him.
A few months later, several students from Wycliffe College arrived for a mission weekend in my parish. Unsure of these Christians, I kept myself aloof. I made one friend among the students that weekend. Witnessing Thor’s relationship with Christ radically altered my perception of the accessibility of God. I began to consider baptism into the Christian faith.
A year went by and another team, including Thor, returned to my parish. This time, my aloofness was replaced with warmth and joy. I knew then that my life with Christ would be radically different from my life before Christ.
Thor died suddenly in December 2001, shortly after that second mission trip. We had one year to cultivate our friendship, one year to ask and answer questions about Christ, one year to witness what God was doing in our lives. It was in the spirit of that friendship, more than any other, that I learned about God’s profound love for me. I remember how deeply happy Thor was when I told him I was to be baptised in January of 2002.
My life is far richer for the experience of those mission trips, far richer for having lived, walked, and shared my life with those mission teams, far richer with Christ, than one can possibly fathom.