Monday, July 09, 2012

CP 184 One text haunted me...

CP 184  One text haunted me…

Many years ago, in what now feels like the olden days, I was one of the Pastors of the Eudunda Parish in South Australia. It was a wonderful time, (apart from a few minor exceptions), and the town and Parish was chock-a-block with ‘characters’. A bloke couldn’t avoid them because almost every business and organisation was owned by, or staffed by, members of the flock. One such was Vin Geyer, the town barber.

Since it was important to support local businesses I duly presented myself for a haircut. Vinnie was pleased and wanted to talk. On his heart was his errant son. The lad had been to the local Lutheran primary school, done his confirmation instruction, (2 years, once a week!), and made his confirmation. Having finished his education, the beloved son moved to Adelaide for work. And then brought sadness and shame to his family.

Of all things, he joined the Hare Krishnas. His parents were shocked and grieved. This was totally incomprehensible. How could he do this? What had they done wrong? How could they have failed? Vin and I agreed that the only thing we could do was pray for him to ‘get out’.

Time passed. Maybe a year or so, I’m not sure. One Sunday morning, behold, there was the young man sitting beside his parents in worship. Mum and dad were beaming, as well they might. He was present most Sundays after that. I looked for the chance to talk with him.

He told me his story of how he got involved and what that involvement meant - surrendering possessions, community living and structures, street work, and teaching sessions. “What led you to leave?” His answer astounded me and will be a source of comfort to many of us whose children have finished up in ‘prodigal places’.

What did he say to me? “As I was listening to their teaching, I was comparing it to what I had been taught in confirmation. It didn’t fit with the truth I’d learn’t, so I left! Just like that. And he came home. To both his heavenly Father and his earthly parents. 

His story came to mind recently when I sat with another young person coming out of one of those ‘alternative’ faiths and was astonished at how the Word of God, embedded in a person’s heart, and regardless of how it gets there, is used by the Holy Spirit to lead that person to the joy and freedom of Jesus the Christ and his kingdom. The Gospel Word is the raw material with which the Spirit of Truth does his work.

And I passionately encourage you. I would say to you parents, god-parents, grandparents and others, as you have permission and opportunity, use it to speak and teach the truth of Jesus the Christ into the minds and hearts of the young and the old. Share what you know of Calvary and what it teaches us about the grace, mercy, peace and holiness of God. Never tire of giving the Holy Spirit the chance do his special work.

Finally a word about that young man who left the Hare Krishnas. He met a young lady whom he married. I officiated at the wedding. Not long after that he enrolled at the Seminary in Adelaide. He graduated 6 years later. His name is Peter, and he is currently the Pastor of the Fassifern Parish in Queensland. God is good.

It is pure delight to share with you Peter’s response to what I have written:

The Hare Krishnas were a group of people who truly identified with their faith 24 hours seven days a week. I was impressed. Too bad it took me such a painful experience to learn their theology was not up to scratch.

One comment that I wish you might add to your blog and that is to say that it was the Bible memory work I learned at Confirmation that made the big difference to me leaving the Hare Krishnas. As I tried living as a Hare Krishna, one text haunted me! John 14:6, particularly the "No one comes to the Father but by me". The Holy Spirit worked on the Word I had in my heart to convince me that Jesus was the only way… and so I left!

Be blessed people


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