This is not a post on giving the reasons why and analyzing the situation ... just expressing the sad feeling I have inside. I am sad that the CC problem in Malaysia seems to be getting worse. Sad that NECF seems to be quiet and not making any statements which does not seem to help (BTW I have good friends in NECF so while all is quiet, I do give them the benefit of the doubt). Sad because this is affecting to good name of Christ and the work of other churches and Christians. No matter how one views the situation or whose side one may want to take, it is still a scandal (a stumbling block).
Sad too because this morning I popped out to do some errands and I prayed that God would give me the opportunity to have a decent conversation with somebody (I did not want the whole day to go by without speaking to a non Christian). I dropped by after my errands to visit "my" Muslim refugee family. Short but good visit.
Then on the way back as I drove into my office driveway, I saw a neighbour working on his house (renovating to rent out). He waved, I waved and so I parked and walked over to speak to him and as we chatted I asked to see the renovation progress as the house would be rented out in a few days. He gladly took me for a tour and we talked about his handiwork, houses and things I was learning about Kiwi life.
Then I saw in the corner a small black stone statute of Buddha (the chubby happy version) and there was a large grey used candle next to it. I told him that was unusual for me to see such a statue in a European Kiwi home, and asked him if he was a Buddhist. His reply was to the effect of ... "sort of", "nearly a Buddhist".
And then he told me how he grew up a Catholic but with so many scandals in the church there was "disillusionment". We talked on the current Roman Catholic scandal. How could I not agree with that it was a scandal especially in view of the years of cover up?
He spoke of his attraction to Thailand (culture, Buddhism?), the places he had visited including a ceremony commemorating the deaths related to the infamous River Kwai project ... and then we moved on to Cambodia and Malaysia .... and it went on .... I am sad as though he seems to respect me as a Christian pastor (this was not our first conversation) and is friendly and open to me it was obvious that too many church scandals had scarred him. Sad ...because it is not just right doctrine that people look for but the way Christians (especially leaders) live our lives ... and the way the Church in its official capacity responds to "scandals". Sad that in our weakness that we not only seem to fail far too often ... but in big ways. And when we do fail, it is so sad that we can't seem to respond to our failures in a way that is acceptable to the public.
Anyway I hope that church scandals will not be the not the final word in his life and that of millions in the world. I went back to see him a few minutes after our conversation and passed him a book that he was very pleased to borrow ... "Miracle on the River Kwai" to read on his upcoming one month trip to Thailand. Hopefully the book will be of help for him to see God's grace in a fresh way.