John stayed with us for a weekend back in 1999.
A gentle, softly spoken man, he could easily have found work outside of his native country. He chooses not do do so. Instead, he works in a poor, remote region of an African country.
We stood at our church photocopier one Saturday evening, copying proposals he had drawn up for an agricultural training programme. He was going to circulate the photocopies in the hope of finding some funding.
John’s efforts to establish a programme in his diocese were successful and he was able to develop his plans. An agency with a multi-million turnover looked at John’s work and decided that here was a man who was running projects that made a real difference to the lives of the poorest people. The agency were so impressed, they made a big grant to the project.
Unfortunately, John was working in a diocese under a bishop. The bishop controlled the accounts and when the money came, he took the funds and went on a sabbatical to the United States. The project collapsed because the funders then withdrew. John’s job disappeared and so did the prospect of a better life for the people John was trying to assist.
John will pick himself up and find some way of continuing the work. The bishop will undoubtedly be unrepentant, regarding the money as being sent by the Lord so he could go to America. The poor will continue to be poor, and some will die from preventable causes because the sort of programmes that John runs are about food and water and shelter and hygiene.
The bishop belongs to a church that condemns the Episcopal Church in the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality.
The Bible does indeed condemn homosexual practices, but it also condemns theft and allowing the poor to die. On the Day of Judgment, which is the Lord going to get more angry about, what people do behind their bedroom doors, or stealing funds intended for some of Africa’s poorest people?