Wednesday, 13 May 2015

We really are in trouble here’ thought Bishop Bismark. 

He’s a kind-faced man with round glasses and I enjoy eating dinner with him.  He started as a new Bishop in 2007.  He soon realised that his area was not developed and he heard people saying ‘we don’t see the churches doing anything’.  It wasn’t surprising that the church was stuck because their finances were practically non-existent.

For Bismark it meant there was no money to do work, no vehicle to visit churches and communities and just a grass hut to live in.   A local businessman wanted to give him a motorbike so he could travel but the man’s wife asked him – what if the Bishop falls off?  Instead the man gave the Bishop a small tipper truck!  This proved both useful, they could hire it out for income, and ‘a lot of fun’ as Bismark could fill it up with young people when he went out to visit churches.

The challenge of getting round had been solved but the financial situation was still dire.  Bismark realised that the entire weekly church collection in many of his churches was less than 10 Sudanese Pounds (about £3). 

Bismark was inspired by the ideas of church and community transformation.  So he started preaching that people needed to stop waiting for development from outside and instead start doing things using the small resources they already had.  He also brought in trainers from the capital Juba to run workshops on church giving.  We committed to teach this for 5 years (‘we are not giving up’) and led by example.

Gradually the church offerings have turned around.  This means that now the church has its own money to bring the hope of God to communities.  I think many other churches could learn from Bishop Bismark’s example. 

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