The Bible Study

It is half past eight on Saturday morning. The room is dull dusty and sparsely furnished: a red painted concrete floor, two sofas covered with sheets, a table with some chairs, an empty bookcase, a make shift curtain separates an area for two double beds where a family sleeps, children pad in an out and a cat wanders through to the kitchen. We are four, three young men and myself. All three are married and two have lovely daughters. One is the new pastor of the local church; one has completed his studies and looking for work. One is blind. Those who can, read verses from the bible in turn. The study is focused on Ephesians 4: 17-32. The pastor leads while others chip in with thoughts reflections and questions. The aim is to understand. We speak about anger and abusive treatment of others, about how our thinking affects what we do and say, about practising honesty and forgiveness. The privilege (an overused word) of being able to share in this time is awesome (an even more overused word). Here in the dusty crumbling slopes of this great city, tucked away in an anonymous street, are a group of men who are grappling with what it means to live a life of faith. We are not talking about football, or cars or politics, we are talking about what really matters. When we finish, they ask me to pray, mercifully, in English. While my Spanish sometimes surprises me, I knew this is one occasion when it would not be up to the task.

It would be very hard to describe the breath-taking wonder and the sense of honour I felt, leading these men in prayer in that moment. I was humbled, challenged and, yes, truly blessed and it is something that I will never forget.

Crawford Mackenzie

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