The past several months have been really hot. Room temperatures are over 33 degrees Celsius. So to keep cool and in working condition I stay in cafes and McDonalds. Sometimes I order a coffee and sit there for 2 or 3 hours typing on my computer. It's either preparing for sermon or seminar or writing commentary on some biblical book. Coffee is where I get my inspiration. It is the ambience and social setting that keeps me going. Today I went to a Coffee shop without aircon and when I asked for the bill I was told that it was paid and some young lady waived to me across the tables. I did not go to thank her because the shop was crowded. I just waved back and smiled and said a short prayer of thanksgiving. I don't even know who she was - is she church member or someone I counselled for marriage some years ago? It reminded me of a Ranau friend who works a chef in one of the restaurants.
He only came to the church I pastored mid-way and when I left he went back to his home church. Probably he had listened to me preach for 3 or 4 months but for more than 10 times in the past 3 years he had paid for my meals. I was so embarrassed that I purposefully sat in the corner of the restaurant to avoid him. Once he told me that it was more of a blessing for him to be a blessing to his former pastor. If more church members are like that, there will be more of my tribe, "pastors". Pastors are an endangered species in our denomination. I spoke about it during the eldership seminar 3 weeks ago in Tenom. Those who enter theological training are not the pick or top of their class, but mostly at the bottom and when they had nowhere else to go, Bible school seems to be the last resort. No wonder many churches are facing down-turn because even if they have pastors, most of them are not called. They are career church men or women - can't do much of anything outside and to some, it is for a piece of bread and nothing much more. But it is the community of believers that I am attached to. I will not leave them unless the Lord directs me to go elsewhere. When my son was back, humanly speaking there were times I thought of returning to New Zealand. One relative during a family dinner said to me, "why don't you go while your son is still in New Zealand? But I am staying put. If I go, it will be for a short vacation. With the community network that I have built over a quarter of a century, there is nowhere better than home, right here in Sabah.