A great day. I taught about forty preachers and young men planning on becoming preachers today in the Bible College here at St. Louis du Nord. It was interesting working with a translator. When I preached yesterday at the church it was only the second time I worked with a translator. For the sermon I worked with a translator named Johnny. He leaned over just before my sermon and said, "This is my first time doing this."
I thought, "Great! Mine, too!" I asked him if he was nervous and he said, "No. I trust in God, first, and in myself, second." That is good and godly confidence. He seemed to really be into the sermon, following my articulation and gestures, and even encouraging the congregation to "Amen!" in the appropriate spots. Afterward, when I asked the missionary how we did, Janielle said, "You did well. The translator did very well!" It looks like Johnny might have found himself a part-time job. Good for him.
Today my translator was Archimel. (Pronounced like a compound of the names Archie and Mel). He is 26 and his wife gave birth to their first baby, a girl, just a few days ago. She had the birth in Port au Prince because it was a c-section delivery. She will be staying in PAP for about a month because the roads are too rough for her to take the bus to Port du Paix. To show my gratitude for his service, I gave him one of the layettes that the Everett High School National Honor Society (or was it the French club?) prepared for us to bring. The others have been placed in the hospital to be given to new mothers. They really appreciate this gift. It is really cool to think that High School students in Lansing, Michigan were so unselfish as to provide the first "onesie" that these children will wear home in far away Haiti. (Way to go, Sid!)
Teaching with a translator today really tapped me out. One the one hand, it is tough to get into a rhythm with the translator. On the other hand, it is nice to be able to look ahead at my notes a bit to see what is coming up. The students are very stoic and do not express much. This is difficult, given my humorous and expressive way (some would say silly) way of teaching. It was hard for me to know if they were bored out of their skulls, or were just listening intently.
Today's lesson was on the nature of the church. We talked about how the church is not a democracy, but a kingdom with Christ as the King. It was well received. We also talked about promoting unity in the church and the importance of remaining on mission and not being distracted by conflict over useless arguments. When I asked them about some of the "opinion" areas that have led to conflict in their churches they responded with some familiar answers.
Money was one. How do we spend it? Who gets it? Another was positions and titles within the church. Some want the titles but don't want the work. Some want to hold onto their positions as "pastor" and will not delegate, so the church does not grow. Sounds all too familiar. The day ended with a discussion, of all things, about the role of women in the church. One pastor asked me if women could be preachers or if this was prohibited in scripture.
He has seen women preaching on the television (Joyce Meier?) and wonders if it is correct or not. He thinks, "no." Another pastor has a cousin and an aunt that preach in the US. He said that, because the angels first appeared to women to announce the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that women today are authorized to preach.
Different country, same controversy.
We discussed it and, when pressed to do so, I gave them my opinion on the issue. Then I told them that this was a particularly good example of the very thing I said was so important - that we not allow tangential grey areas to prevent us from the mission of the church: evangelism and discipleship.
All in all it was a very good day. I am looking forward to teaching on the subject of elders tomorrow. I will try and post a few pictures here or on facebook after dinner, so check back.