I am kind of half way down memory lane today. I was reminded of a number of things - mostly things that I think I have let go of.
We had a choir doing a lunchtime performance. They were the Watoto Children's Choir from Kampala in Uganda. It was described and a mix of gospel and African dance. It was incredible! It was very energetic and so in-your-face evangelistic. The audience of mostly pupils and some teachers thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing and joined in the action songs. The applause at the end was thunderous.
It was so unexpectedly enthusiastic - both from the people on the stage and from the people in the seats watching.
The action song was "Cast Your Burdens On To Jesus". I wanted to cry because it is a song that really holds strong memories for me. When I worked for one summer with Mission Ablaze in Durban, South Africa, I spent a lot of time in an orphanage in one of the black townships. The level or poverty was off the scale. The children in the orphanage ate because a group of Christians did the rounds of all the supermarkets to take the out of date vegetables and bread off their hands. This was made into stew or soup.
One of the songs that everyone in the orphanage sang was "Cast Your Burdens On To Jesus." It was all the time, when they were playing when they were just sitting, or doing homework. It just seemed that they were singing it and Jesus wasn't doing anything about their burdens because they lived in such dreadful conditions. I kept asking God, why didn't he do anything to help these people? Then God answered, "I did do something - I brought you here." I didn't do anything really great to transform anyone's life. I just let the little children sit on my knee and get cuddled. Wait a minute! Even a cuddle for someone that is not cuddled transforms their life!
You hear of people that experience something like going to a place like that and when they come home they get involved in a flurry of fundraising or campaigning. I think that is what I let go of - the chance to let the experience change me, and create in me a burning desire to make a real difference. All too soon, for me it was business as usual.
The other thing that came to mind was my experiences of teaching in a small church school in Cyprus. At Millburn, the pupils are nice enough I suppose - I have taught worse - but teaching RE to get to hear their views about religion. I teach an increasingly cynical group of people. Faith has very little part to play in many of their lives and they tend to be quite derogatory towards those who do have a faith. In Cyprus, faith underlined everything we did and was written into the very fabric of the school. Hearing those children so openly testifying about the good things God has done for them, it made me miss those church school days and realise how much I had been stained too by the cynical attitudes of the pupils around me.
The music and the enthusiasm was like a breath of fresh air, blowing away the cobwebs.