Friday, August 31, 2007

He was a friend of mine

Dropped by a the blog homes of a few of our friends with whom we disagree (but do welcome here for pints of butterbeer and pitchers of chai) and, well, felt rather sad. Wish we were more profound than that, but there we are. Got to thinking again about Bishop Festo and as Bob might say, a different point of view. How would an African bishop walk into a suburban Episcopal parish in the early 80s and completely turn things upside down? But that's what happened - that's how I remember it. The deep friendships between African and American evangelicals - with their Bibles and their Prayer Books in hand - goes back twenty-five to thirty years. It's not overnight. And the deal is, and this is the truth - the Africans saved us. Yes, they did - by pointing us back to the Redeemer that saved them. There would not be an evangelical left in the Episcopal Church if it wasn't for African believers and for men like Bishop Festo. And that is the truth. To God be the glory.

Festo Kivengere on John 17:22


Alice C. Linsley said...

It is true that the Africans have come to the rescue and aid of orthodox Anglicans in America, but don't forget Gregory Venables, Drexel Gomez, Frank Lyons and the Asian Primates. Christ Jesus has faithful servants all over the world. To God be the glory!

Kevin said...

I fully concur with you Alice, we are truly blessed with many faith leaders in Asia, South America and around the world.

However one issue about Bp. Festo is he survived Uganda in the '70s & '80s. Rwandans survived a shorter period but just as bloody. Nigeria has had it pretty well comparatively, which is pretty sad for Abacha's regime was still pretty bad.

Out of the depth of pain their faith has been forged harder than steal.

There is many lessons about the Lord we'd do well to listen from those who had it put to the test.

Anonymous said...

28 days 2 hours 40 minutes 16 seconds to go.
Just enough time for TEC to sign itself up in one of those 28-day recovery programs, maybe one run by some nice Africans.

Oh I forgot. You have to want to recover or they won't let you in.

Anonymous said...

By all means, Archbishop Gomez should go, as Mark Harris demands. But why stop there? Archbishops Akinola, Orombi, Nzimbi, Venables, Malango, Kolini should also go--indeed, all of the archbishops and bishops who participated in Thursday's and today's "non-Windsor compliant" actions should go! Of course, they'll take their bishops AND THEIR PEOPLE with them. Let's see--who is left? Only the tiny Western provinces, and one, maybe two Africans, that's who. Sounds like a real good plan. I'll stick with +Orombi and my Ugandan bishops, +Kisekka and now, +Guernsey. (BTW, if you're reading this, Stacy Sauls, Bishop Kisekka will be coming to California in exactly two weeks. This will be his third visit.) We never saw Jon Bruno that often, nor did he ever bother to learn our names. One of the first things +Guernsey did just days after his election was announced was to call our clergy and ask, "What do you need? What can I do for you?" These are true shepherds and we are so blessed to have them!

RB said...

I am probably a little dense, but I have to ask: what happened in the early 80s that turned your church or other churches upside down? Did Bishop Festo do something or say something? I wasn't an Episcopalian then, and I'm out of the loop. Please explain further.

I love your site, though I can't say I understand your love of Dylan's music. It must be an acquired taste.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your thoughtful post, RB. What Bishop Festo brought to my parish and many others was a blend of biblical and Spirit-filled renewal (the "Episcopal" word for revival) and mission. They went hand in hand, the renewal was not just a personal and individualistic "high" - but what outward focused. There are those that maintain when a real "revival" - a great awakening occurs, it's not just a religious experience for a few, but transforms the culture. The change is inward and is expressed outwardly (unlike some clearly secular political movements where the change is outward with the goal of inward transformation. Bishop Festo, through his preaching and testimony, demonstrated that God is alive, He's on the move - in our hearts and in our lands. He brought the revival that was going in Africa to the United States where it was met by the revival going on in the United States in that period. Now Christians in America and Christians in Africa and other places around the world were coming into a deep and profound spiritual awakening that affected even the stalwart old institutional churches like the Episcopal Church. In fact, since Episcopalians were part of the Anglican Communion, there was a tie between Anglicans in renewal all around the world. Man-made borders were falling (and this was before the internet) because of the outpouring of God's Spirit.

Bishop Festo was fearless but also a man of great humility. It was countercultural to so many "leaders" in the U.S. He and others of his generation opened the doors to relationships that have stood the test of time for thirty years.

I was a college student, struggling to work my youth-conversion faith into adulthood. I can remember where I sat, what I thought, and I was changed after I heard Bishop Festo preach. It wasn't just a feeling - it was a decision and the decision was mutual. God had made a decision to save the world through His Son and I was faced with a decision of whether my faith was a fad or a life.

I have found as I share my own story that there are others who have similar stories, some here at the Cafe, others who are well-known (the same kinds of things were happening in Ireland, for example, and to three of four men who would become U2). Blending a charismatic faith with mission, that we expecting Jesus to return but we weren't going to sit on our hands until He showed up.

Another person who was getting his own life redone was Bob Dylan, out in California, attending the Bible Studies through John Whimber's Vineyard. It was a similar type of journey - but for Dylan it would mean more boo's, more rejection. He's gone to being more poetic but no less prophetic in his music, whether he likes it or not.

So on the Dylan note - yes, I guess he is an acquired taste. I have to say that when I heard "Not Dark Yet" three years ago, I felt like I had been a Dylan fan all my life but didn't know it until then.

It's simply one of his greatest songs, written in 1997 - and I first heard it on a special CD release to go along with the film Passion of the Christ. The songs on the CD were chosen by an unlikely pair to capture the essence of the Passion of Christ. The pair? Mel Gibson of course - and Bono.

I could not get that song out of my mind. It expressed so much of what I was feeling at that time - and I wondered at the spiritual power of it. It was a visual song, but one you also felt. And the more I've listened to Dylan's voice, the more it's become an instrument that conveys far more than melody.

You hear the stories of Bishop Festo and others who have traveled hard roads and still roads filled with faith, and you listen to Dylan and there's, well, there's something there.

So that's why he pops up here a lot at the Cafe. And there's rumors that he and Hagrid go way back. Figured.