My normal Easter routine has gone a bit awry this year. Spending two weeks in Iquitos, Peru and then returning for Holy Week has meant that most of the week I’ve been suffering jet lag. Nevertheless, the usual run of services has come to a great conclusion with an Easter Sunday baptism.
Yet half the time my mind has been on Iquitos, the things I saw, the seminars and workshops I could have done better and thoughts about what I could contribute to life in Iquitos. Most of this is post travel processing and, like my previous trip, it will soon be a memory. But…….
The thing I’m starting to realise is that involvement in church life overseas changes your perspective. I’m a rich westerner with more resources than the local church pastors will ever have. I have views developed by interaction with others across the world and through time. They have a determination, trust in God and persistence which I have much to learn from.
The temptation is to believe that the Kingdom of God is best served by my going and sharing what I have with them. Practicalities not withstanding, perhaps I should resign my ministry here and move to Iquitos? But is it presumption to believe that I have something to give, to share, to teach that will be of benefit to them – a sort of 21st Century theological and cultural imperialism? Is it naivety which makes life there seem attractive and life here complex?
At the same time I have been struck this year by Luke’s account of Jesus life; from the moment he resolutely sets out for Jerusalem, through his final days, to the cross. Jesus is not deflected from his call, having put his hand to the plough he does not turn back. Jesus is not unaware of the inner turmoil and challenges he is facing, but yet continues to commit himself to his heavenly Father.
As it is, I believe God called me to a ministry here, which is not yet complete, so I’m not on the phone to BMS asking if they will take me! But perhaps the resurrection appearances of Jesus remind us that the bewilderment and puzzlement of discipleship doesn’t vanish immediately but rather in response to the words and revelation of God and as we fulfil the call to witness to him.
Meanwhile the flood water in Iquitos is early and high this year, these pics give some idea.