Monday, July 18, 2011

Memories (2)

I said, a couple of days ago, that Friday's CPE course triggered some memories. The other that is worth recording is from . . . about 25 years ago. Experiencing the death of a patient with whom I had hoped to establish a relationship reminded me of a time that a similar thing happened long ago.
I met a Methodist minister called David Newby on a young peoples' church camp. We chatted one evening and I expressed a frustration at being unable to be involved in church and mission as much as I would like. A few days later I got a call (or calls?) from what was called the Christian Citizenship Department (CCD) of the Methodist Church. That got me linked up with three different activities, but one of them was with a man named Jannie Janse van Rensburg and involved the Johannesburg General Hospital. Jannie was absolutely passionate about the work of visiting at the hospital. I attended a training session with him and then started visiting the hospital with him. We went out one evening a week with a determined commitment. He taught me a lot of what I now consider to be instinctive. After a while, he decreed that I was ready to go solo and gave me a key to the chaplain's room. I don't remember how long I kept this up - one year or two years? I was young, time didn't mean what it means to me now. I stopped going when I no longer worked a day job in the centre of Johannesburg and the travelling became a mission.
The memory came from one particular occasion when I met a man, in his forties I guess, who was dying of something very like AIDS (although that was pre-AIDS). For some reason he touched my heart and although he was not a church person or terribly inclined towards becoming one, he was willing that I should bring him a Bible. That was a Wednesday evening, I think. I took a special trip in on the following Saturday and found that he had died two hours before I got there. I promised God that I would never forget him.
I haven't forgotten him, but I have almost forgotten that I have had all this experience. Jannie taught me a lot of the stuff that I am being reminded of at CPE.
God has sent some good people across my path. Or me in their paths!

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