Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keep in Touch pew sheet 25 October 2020
I think I’ve told you the story about Rev Peter Hobson coming into the Synod complex refectory wearing a Cowboys t-shirt, straight after Rev Garry Hardingham had asked me whether I was interested in Kirwan Uniting (would have been nice if he’d asked Kirwan Uniting if they were interested in me, but them’s the breaks). “Hey, Peter”, I said to him, “Are you from North Queensland, what do you know about Kirwan?” “Great church”, he replied, “my mum’s a member, and Peter Ireland led me to the Lord”.
I thought of this episode when I had a Facebook message overnight from someone who had been in my youth group, mumble mumble (OK, forty) years ago. She had noticed my name pop up on mutual Friends’ walls, and wondered, is that youth leader Richard from ancient history? I’ve stayed in touch with one of my co-leaders from those distant days (she lives in France now, I’m taking a Zoom service at her church in a couple of weeks time), and a little while ago one of our (then young) people who has stayed friends with her, made me her own Facebook Friend. Then one request after another came in, including last night’s latest. These are people whom I’ve not seen or heard from for almost forty years. They’re parents (grandparents, even, in some cases). It’s been very lovely to catch up on so many years news. And they express happiness at being back in contact with me.
But do you know, not one of them, in reminiscing, has said “You led me to the Lord”. They recall riotous evenings and camps which would land youth leaders before Professional Standards and invalidate insurance these days, but no-one attributes their Christian discipleship (because many of them are active believers, praise the Lord) to my influence. This had me worried for a while, still does, but then I remember that the youth leaders worked as a team, like Starsky and Hutch. It’s a case of I got them into the metaphorical garden in the first place with unholy ploys, another leader planted the Word, yet another watered it in deeper study, but God gave the increase.
I don’t think they teach unholy ploys in seminary. More’s the pity. Ecclesiastes 11:9,10:
“Young people, enjoy your youth. Be happy while you are still young. Do what you want to do, and follow your heart's desire. But remember that God is going to judge you for whatever you do. Don't let anything worry you or cause you pain. You aren't going to be young very long.”
(btw, they've got at least 1 CBE, 1 MBE and a PhD between 'em, that I know of. Can't put that down to unholy ploys, they've done it themselves by God's grace)