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In a Village Church, part two

August 21, 2008


Here is the second installment of my report on the events of a visit to Martin Seliane’s church.  Martin is one of our students here at Christ Seminary in Polokwane, South Africa.

On Saturday afternoon after the funeral Martin had arranged for me to be on a Christian talk radio program for about an hour.  I did not know that we were going to be on the radio, I had not prepared anything.  Martin then said that “we” were not going to be on the radio, but that I was going to be on the radio while Martin went and finalized arrangements for me to speak to a group of eleven local pastors after the radio show.  I did not know that was going to happen either.

I said it was no problem, just let me know what the topic was for the radio program and for the pastor’s meeting so I can go over a few Bible passages and arrange some thoughts.  Martin said he had no idea what the topic was for the radio program because the hostess, who is the wife of a local pastor, just picks the topic at the start of the show and then talks about it and takes calls.  And, for the pastor’s meeting I could talk on anything I wanted.  I thought, OK, this will be cool, I hope we get to talk theology, but it will probably be some sort of practical church ministry or Christian relationship issues.  Those are always popular topics.

We arrived at the radio station just as the program was starting.  I was rushed into the studio, the hostess plugged in an advertisement, Martin introduced us and then left the building.  The advertisement ended, the hostess introduced me to the radio audience and said “Our topic for today is submission in the home.”  I thought, “Bingo! Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3 – plenty of material there for an hour.  This will be easy.”

The hostess then said, “Since our topic is submission in the home, let’s turn to Matthew chapter 6.”  I thought, “What!?  Matthew 6!?  Submission!?”  As I turned to the passage my mind was racing, scouring every corner of my brain for anything in Matthew 6 that had anything remotely to do with submission in the home.  “Think.  Matthew 6; sermon on the mount, the Lord’s prayer, don’t be anxious for anything . . . think, think . . . ???”  I got nothing.

She said, “Look at verse 9.”  I did.  She read, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”  Then she looked at me and asked, “So, pastor Steve, how can we apply this in our families in the home?”  I went *blink*, then thought, “Well, you don’t because it has nothing to do with submission in the home,” but I didn’t say that.  I said something about how the idea behind this verse is giving honor and glory to God and one way we can do that is by submitting to His ordained leadership structure in the home, which is specifically talked about in Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3, let’s turn there.  I thought, “Whew – thank you Lord, talk about dodging a bullet.”  It was like a word from the Lord.

This time it was her turn to look at me and blink.  For a moment she tried to tie Matthew 6:9 to submission in the home, but that was going down in flames, so she asked about Ephesians 5.  I turned there and basically just talked through the passage.  She was very interested and we had a few calls then the hour was up.  I am not trying to be cruel nor am I poking fun at her when I say that she probably had no idea that those two chapters specifically address submission in the home.  In general, the church here in Africa uses the Bible as a grab-bag of verses into which they reach and clutch onto some passage with some words in it that they think has something to do with their topic.  She had probably heard that verse used in a sermon on submission in the home and liked it so she went for it.  The concept of a verse gaining meaning from its context is pretty much unknown to a lot of Christians here.

After the radio show Martin took me to the meeting with the local pastors.  Many of them listened to the radio show and they had a number of questions about it.  They also asked about church leadership, specifically about women as pastors.  There were also questions on all kinds of topics.  It was a two hour meeting and I was basically the Bible answer man.  Fortunately I had heard all the questions before from the students at the seminary so I was prepared.

I should mention that none of the pastors there, except for Martin, have had any training or schooling at all.  In general they don’t know what the Bible has to say on most subjects and some of them even get the gospel wrong.  This is why I am here.  Martin was just like the rest of these guys when he came to seminary three years ago.  He sees the huge difference now between himself and his peers, and he is not prideful, but humble and talks about how they need training too.  He said the pastors very much appreciated my mini seminar and my exposition, explanation and application of the passages we looked at.  At the seminary we get to have a big impact on the students who want to learn, like Martin.  We also get to minister to and strengthen the local churches when we visit or students at their homes.

It was a long Saturday.  We got back to Martin’s house at about 6 p.m.  I wanted to treat Martin and his family (he is married with two kids, a boy and a girl) so we went to the only burger place in town.  Everyone enjoyed it and we returned to Martin’s at about 8:30 p.m.  Since the next day was Sunday, and I was going to preach at Martin’s church, I wanted to be well rested so I went to bed soon after.  I slept with my six year old son Michael who kicked and elbowed me most of the night.

Part three will be coming after the weekend.

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