This pastoral passage was written for LRBC for February 10 2019
While I was away over the summer break I took with me a small and out of print book called Expanding Horizons. It tells the story of the first fifty years of the New Zealand Bible Training Institute – now known as Laidlaw College, just down the road from our church and now approaching the fulfilment of its second fifty years.
The opening pages trace the ‘spiritual ancestry’ of the Institute’s founder, Joseph Kemp. It begins with a miner from Cornwall in England – who as it turns out attributes his conversion and reformed lifestyle to a book by John Bunyan. This miner persistently prayed for the minister of his church, whom he doubted had a genuine and personal faith. In due time the minister was converted (by his own preaching!) and became a popular and effective itinerant preacher in England. One man who was converted through his ministry was a shopkeeper, who took a young orphan into his home. This boy – the young Joseph Kemp – was raised in the knowledge and character and love of a Christian home that was not his by birth, and grew up to be a influential Christian leader even before he founded the B.T.I. in New Zealand.
What struck me about the spiritual ancestry of Joseph Kemp was the important roles played by the miner and the grocer. They were not people who had a ‘ministry’ like a professional pastor or Christian worker, yet they had a huge impact for the kingdom of God. One was moved to pray continually for his vicar, and the other was moved to care for the physical, social and spiritual wellbeing of a boy with no father or mother. Their faithfulness in their inconspicuous work resulted in a highly conspicuous outcome.
What inconspicuous assignment have you been given to be faithful in? Keep at it, and remember Jesus’ words from the parable of the talents: “You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward” (Luke 19:17).