Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What influences people - two mangoes!

During one heavy conference session (last week) when reports on Baptist theological education, were given from all five continents (with plentiful statistics!), Josue from Chile shared the most significant moment from his own student experience, over thirty years previously.

As a Latin American student, studying in Vancouver, he became very ill. On his own, feeling far from home, he was surprised to hear his professor on the phone, sympathizing and asking if there was anything he could bring to him. 'I can't ask you,' said Josue, 'you are far too busy.' 'No, tell me. I really want to help you,' said the professor. 'Well, I would love to have two mangoes' he said.

When his professor arrived with two mangoes, Josue said this act of service and kindness meant more to him than anything else he would learn in preparing to be a Christian leader. It opened his eyes to the importance of relationship and character in those who would teach, and began a life-long friendship with this professor - Dr. Michael Green. (Incidentally, I enjoyed reading his 2001 autobiography: Adventure of Faith, Zondervan).

I guess you can imagine how that story impacted us as theological educators. I was not alone ( I think) in wondering whether I had given "two mangoes' worth" of grace to any of my students. Or, indeed, in whether there were such "significant" moments in my pastoral ministry? It's challenging to reflect, whoever we are - don't you agree?

No comments: