Friday, April 20, 2007

Thursday: Doing What You Don't Want to Do

Africa is long on custom, tradition and protocol.

I’m not a custom-tradition-protocol kind of guy, so I typically have to force myself to do those things which are expected of my position as Mission Director. For example, earlier in the week, I received an invitation to a mid-day worship service on Thursday to celebrate the ministry of outgoing dean, Rev. Joseph Kwon, at FACTEC (Faculty of Evangelical Theology, Cameroon – the school where I have been teaching).

I didn’t want to go, of course. I’m in the big middle of Annual Meeting preparations, plus I knew that this worship service would be excruciatingly long, and that there would be no air conditioning, and that there would be a luncheon afterward. And once you’re there, you have to stay to the bitter end, otherwise it would cause a scene. Furthermore, I don’t know the Rev. Joseph Kwon personally.

There were lots of reasons not to go, but in the end, I knew it was right for me to attend the service, so I did. This is part of my job, to put it bluntly. But more importantly, it’s my ministry. I have to take the long-range view, the God’s-eye perspective, and trust that the time will be useful and well-spent, even if it doesn’t seem to be particularly high on my “things-to-do” list.

Yes, it was long and hot and I didn’t get a whole lot else done on Thursday. But once I surrendered my own impatience to the situation, I found it to be enjoyable.

I sat across table from Rev. Kwon himself and learned a little more about his own mission-sending organization, the Korean Methodist Church. He was eager to know more about us United Methodists, and, in turn, I was interested in his new ministry in France.

And, of course, if nothing else … there was a huge banquet table adorned with great food -- grilled fish, plantain, manioc, rice, avocado salad, and fresh fruit.

Now that’s "custom-tradition-protocol" that I can handle!