It was 1989 — still the first year of our marriage — and I got asked to go to a conference on World Missions and Evangelism by Canadian Yearly Meeting. CYM then was even mre liberally then than now in some ways. I’m sure there were some snakey politics behind sending me — or anybody.
This was an international conference in San Antonio Texas. We met in bible study groups each morning to read Luke before the main business of the conference. One morning we read:
Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.'”
We were sitting quietly mulling it over when soemone spoke. He was a black pastor from South Africa. Apartheid was still going strong. Mandella was still in prison. Our pastor friend (Christian Reformed) said, “I sometimes wonder if I’m poor enough, when I read this.”
It of course left the rest of us stunned.