I enjoy being in the presence of experts - people who genuinely know what they are talking about, who speak with a quiet authority that comes from having acquired great wisdom not in the classroom nor lecture hall nor library. I joyfully soak up their wisdom, truth and expertise.
So it was today, as I listened attentively to the Canterbury Kids Coach team, as they discussed the immediate (this week) and medium term (this year) response of Church Army to the situation here in Christchurch. These folk knew their stuff, their community, their limitations and their responsibilities. They quickly identified the priorities - a highly visible presence on the streets, with the Bus out every day; a concentrated door-knocking campaign, to care for those who are too vulnerable, afraid or isolated and are likely to fall between the cracks of normal provision and after-care; and manageable events to bring fun, laughter and community back to local life - with a Fun Day on the local park this Friday. Then, sensibly, a debrief next week to assess how this week has gone - no grand long term schemes here.
One outcome for me was that as the CANZ Board meets this week to see how we can support the ministry here in the medium to long term, the focus has to be on strengthening the workers and work already in place. I hope we will coordinate volunteers to come for specific needs and programmes, and bring team members and carefully selected families to Auckland for desperately needed holidays, but the focus must be on resourcing the amazing folk here.
But then I did the maths. If the Board takes the financially foolhardy decision to use $20,000 out of our reserves this year, we could employ one person, already volunteering many hours each week and taking increasing responsibility, for 20 hours each week at minimum pay. Which is better than nothing, far better. But those who push pens, design buildings, plan new infra-structures and make great pronouncements will be richly rewarded, while we scratch around for a few thousand dollars to reward those whose ground-level worth is inestimable. At a Christian Leaders' Congress I attended for the early part of last week, one person questioned "why does the church starve its evangelists?" And no adequate response was forthcoming.
I hope the cashflow in Christchurch will be different, but I fear it will not be.
My faith and my family
3 weeks ago