Which parish was Tim talking about?Tuesday 25 September 2012
Perhaps you heard Tearfund Northern Ireland’s Tim Magowan, doing ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio Ulster on 25 September. ‘Becoming a person of light’ featured a good news story from a church in the Diocese of Down and Dromore. Can you guess which one?
Listen again here (about 27 minutes into the programme) or read the transcript below…
The Rectory doorbell sounded and, my friend, the Rector answered – he was in for a shock! ‘After all you’ve done for us Rector, people around here are really angry that someone has stolen the lead off your church’s roof’ said the local community member standing at the doorway. ‘So we went to the people we suspected who did it and persuaded them to give the money back. Here it is’.
A few years ago, this small church was only loosely connected to the low income community around it. But, slowly, the Rector helped the congregation think through how they could bring light into this area.
Little by little, things began to change.
The church opened a youth club which is now attended by over 100 young people every week – the local police link this club and its outreach activities to a significant reduction in anti social behaviour.
During our recent bad winters, the church provided groceries for scores of pensioners and salt to clear their icy paths.
Every Friday, they pray for issues raised by community members such as illness, unemployment and family relationships.
Slowly, slowly, in an almost unnoticed way, the church became a place of love and care for others.
Then the unexpected happened. The doorbell went and the church was handed a gift from the community much more valuable than the cost of the lead from the roof. By giving the money back, the community gave the church an amazing gift – the feedback that they had changed.
To be clear, I’m not in any way saying that communities should confront offenders. As a former probation officer I passionately believe the authorities should deal with criminality.
Nor, am I saying that good comes to those who do good – I’ve seen too many difficult things happen to good people to think that!
But by giving the money back, I think the community in their own way were saying, that the church had become what they always should have been – a place of God’s light and love.
One of the Old Testament prophets Isaiah says ‘If you spend yourself on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the poor – your light will rise in the darkness’. For me, he means by caring for others you’ll become a person of light yourself – in what can otherwise be a dark and uncaring world.
So, what steps could you, or your company or church or group, take today to bring light to the people around you?
If you do, sometime in the future, you may just have a knock on your door giving you some unexpected feedback…
With thanks to Tim Magowan.