Being an Anglican priest in Rwanda means living a life of poverty; your congregation have barely enough to live themselves, and have little to spare for the Sunday offerings.
It means working with no resources, for where would the money come from to buy those things, like books, that Europeans and Americans take for granted?
It means being able to do little, or sometimes nothing, to help the poorest in the parish. It means seeing children in rags; it means seeing people suffer without medication; it means visiting houses without water, without sanitation, without furniture.
Being an Anglican priest in Rwanda means preaching to people with empty stomachs, who eat no more than once a day. It means talking of dignity and hope to people who know well how the outside world lives, for they encounter that world in the muzungu who ride by in their shiny jeeps, and who wonder at the injustice of the world.
Being an Anglican priest in Rwanda means being prepared to risk encounters with government officials who may take an arbitrary and malicious dislike towards a diocese, or a parish, or a priest. It means standing alone at times, without any international agency or human rights group having any interest in you.
Being an Anglican priest in Rwanda means relying upon nothing but your own faith; your own confidence in the things you believe.
A colleague asked, “Were you in Rwanda?”
“Ah, with that church that supports the right-wing homophobes in the United States”.
I turned away.
Is this how the church is now to be judged? Is sexuality now the only thing that matters?
I would have asked him if he had ever stood in a house made of mud bricks, and talked about his ideas to hungry and destitute people, but there seemed little point. He had judged them already.
Somewhere along the line, a sense of perspective has been lost. Sexuality might be important, but it’s not that important. A gay friend once said that he was more than his sexuality; his attitude seems to be a minority voice in a debate that can have no positive outcome.
Good and faithful clergy were dismissed in a sentence because they were conservative on the gay issue; clergy whose whole lives are devoted to serving the poor.
I am heartily tired of sex.