Text: Markku Kamula
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
In the morning it seemed like a perfectly ordinary day. I do not even remember how ordinary. Now, close to 20 years later, I feel I can think back to it and reminisce.
I guess I read the daily paper over a cup of coffee, helped the kids with their morning routines, and even gave the little ones a ride to school. I remember that, once at work, I was putting product models into my briefcase for a customer call and checking I had the necessary pens, papers, etc. That was when the phone rang.
It was the chair of the board of the local congregation. After exchanging greetings, he went straight to the point. He asked if he and another member of the board could come for a visit that evening. I said it would be fine. Or do you think I could have refused? That phone call triggered a thought process the like of which I had never experienced before. I developed a stomach ache right away. It was agonizing to ponder if I had done something bad that other people knew about and that had caused such public offence that the board considered it necessary to approach me.
Despite my turbulent thoughts, I had to meet the customer as previously agreed. I tried to concentrate fully on the task at hand. The meeting went well, and the outcome was favorable.
But on the drive home that evening, my thoughts began to race again. I could only think of one reason for this visit, and that did not calm down my stomach at all. I told my wife about the visit right away. She was speechless, and I guess she was quicker than I in guessing what it was all about.
When the brothers came, we sat down in the kids’ bedroom to have some privacy for discussion. They told me the board had decided to appoint a few new speakers, and I was one of them. At that point my emotional dam broke and I burst into tears. For a while I just cried, unable to utter a word.
I finally found my voice again and said I would not dare to refuse. I guess I figured out that if this was the Heavenly Father’s will, I could not decline if I wanted to keep my faith. We then had coffee and talked about it some more. By then I was no longer so upset. Even without that coffee I would have stayed awake for most the night, but it was a sleepless night well spent.
It dawned on me pretty soon that speaker brothers preach about the Bible in services, and that I would have no other alternative myself. That made me even more worried – I hardly knew the Bible at all. We had studied the Bible for confirmation, but that was long time ago. I had done all courses on religious studies in high school and written one long essay on ”Jesus – God and man”, but that was just about it. I had been listening at services, fluently and mostly with a positive attitude, but I realized I did not remember much about it.
I began to read the Bible that same night. My wife had bought me a Bible a few years previously. I decided to start from the beginning of the New Testament. I read through the gospels and the Acts twice pretty quickly; it only took me a few evenings. I realized quite soon that I would never make a speaker who could quote long Bible portions from memory.
But it was useful to read. I began to discern the overall structure of the Bible and experienced genuine finder’s joy. Many of the sermons I had heard came to life in my mind. I was downright startled to read the words: ”Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58). I realized that sure, I remember, this is what I heard spoken about at Iisalmi Summer Services.
Some time later I started reading systematically the Old Testament, and that job is still unfinished. But you know, there is time…
We agreed with the brothers of the board that we would not talk about this matter publicly yet. The novice speakers would be introduced to the congregation for approval later on. I can tell you they were long weeks! At services I felt everybody was staring at me, a candidate speaker. I don’t know if they knew about it. But I know secrets tend to leak out.
I experienced moments of panic when I began to envision glimpses of my new reality. I was wondering if I could even serve in the speaker’s role, being the kind of person that I was – either I would have to become a better and more dignified person, or the brothers and sisters would have to accept that I could never enjoy the prestige related to being a speaker. Fortunately, I was able to discuss this with a friend who was in the same situation. I also shared the news with my parents and my best friends. They seemed delighted and wished me God’s blessing. They said this was obviously how things were meant to happen.
Then came the day when I put on a dark suit, a white shirt and a tie. There was a small festive ceremony at the services, where the three of us were appointed as servants of the word. It was all comforting and encouraging.
During the coffee break, one guy grabbed my arm and wished me good luck and God’s blessings. Then he said, ”It is easy for you who are speakers. You go up into the pulpit and confess your faith, and you will also be cared.” I was so puzzled I almost did not understand what he meant. But they were comforting words.
My first sermon was scheduled for Easter Monday. I perused the texts for that day and thought I could try to speak about the men on the road to Emmaus. I was so busy reading the Bible that it was a wonder my sweating hands did not wear holes in the pages.
On Easter Sunday I went for a long run. The words Jesus had spoken to the men on the road to Emmaus “O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe” (Luke 24:25) were rushing and pounding in my head propelled by my rising blood pressure. I felt thoroughly unworthy. I had never been a long-distance runner, and now I was supposed to be a speaker. I felt myself even less worthy when our oldest son said he would not come to services – ”you will just spoil everything”. But in the end he came. When I walked into the assembly hall, my legs were jelly. And when the congregation started to sing the hymn, I was petrified.
When I had gone to the pulpit and opened the Bible, things calmed down. We united in prayer. I felt that the whole congregation was praying. I read the text and spoke the words I was given from above.
They were quite ordinary services after all.
Kesän suuret seurat ovat takana, samoin Kesäseuraradion tämänvuotinen lähetys. Elokuun herättämiä tunnelmia kuvanneet Päivämiehen lukijat kertoivat viime lehdessä toisaalta haikeudesta, mutta toisaalta tyytyväisyydestä siihen, että arjen rutiinit palaavat ja kotirauhanyhdistyksen toiminta käynnistyy kesätauon jälkeen.
Tämän vuoden ajankohtaiskirjassa käsitellään omakohtaista uskoa ja sen vaikutuksia ihmisen elämään ja toimintaan.
Miten selvitä, jos tulee satutetuksi ja jätetyksi?
Voiko seurustelu alkaa ihan noin vain, yllättäen?
Entä mitä tapahtuu siinä välissä?
Kiinnostava matkakertomus seurojen järjestämisestä ja uskovaisten elämästä Afrikassa.
Jännittävä hevoskirja herättelee pohtimaan, minkä varaan elämää kannattaa rakentaa.