Campolo and Kendrick show passion in Norwich
Proclaimers Church played host to evangelical worship songsmith Graham Kendrick, with social rights campaigner, sociologist and minister Dr Tony Campolo at The Space for the Norwich stop of their UK-wide ‘Evening To Remember’ tour, courtesy of Compassion UK on October 22. Mark Sims reports.
I was vaguely aware of Compassion’s work prior to the evening but have a far better idea now. Following Graham Kendrick’s opening worship session was a video of him visiting Marmony, a child he had sponsored for a decade, who told of her aspirations to become a voluntary nurse. Whilst Compassion’s work was the crux of the evening for the audience which largely filled the venue’s 500-seat main hall, there was still much to enjoy from Kendrick’s music and Campolo’s talk. This lead to a challenge to consider sponsoring a child ourselves.
Campolo echoed the thoughts of at least some people in the room when he joked at the end of his talk, ‘“All you did was lay a guilt trip on us!”’ His use of Matthew 25: 31-46 was a good example, where Jesus talks about God’s final judgement, ‘…whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Was Campolo asking us to give out of fear of eternal punishment? He assured us that we were right to think of part of his talk as a guilt trip, yet we should feel guilty if we are in a position to help needy people and do not.
It is hard to argue with this when, according to the Global Rich List, those of us in the UK, even people on benefits, are better off than the children, that Compassion seeks sponsors for and 89 pence a day to do so will hardly break the bank, after all.
When Campolo asked for a show of hands for sponsors after a brief moment of prayer, a number responded. He told those of us who had kept our hands down to take literature away with us for further consideration so perhaps more will sponsor at a later date.
Child sponsorship is noble but creates an odd emotional attachment (I imagine) with another person that you have had no previous connection to and may never meet. That said, any charitable giving, be it on the street, over the phone or online, is doing so blindly when one cannot know where exactly one’s own money is spent.
At least sponsoring a particular child allows you to know exactly who it is with updates on their progress, with some potential contact. To his credit, Campolo did acknowledge this but challenged us that this is agape love - ‘the love of God for man and the love of man for God’, love only God can give, God loving the unloved through us. ‘Spirituality is allowing Christ to come into you and create.’ He also quoted 1 John 3: 17-18, ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?’
Campolo seeks to be ‘spiritually energised’ on a daily basis and this was part of the first of three aspects of love that formed the meat of his talk - ‘Intense Concentration,’ for which we need God’s help to see past others’ (sometimes unpleasant) exteriors and into their souls. Campolo gave the example of the ‘Duck Lady’ - a lollipop woman he knew who was filthy and given to ‘incessant quacking’. Campolo described a ‘mystical moment’ at the traffic lights between himself and the Duck Lady, whom he had known of for a while, where they looked at each other, her quacking stopped and she said, apropos of the experience (presumably), ’it’s quite lovely’. Then the lights changed, people barged past the pair to cross the road and the moment was gone. ‘If (it) had been longer,’ Campolo considered, ‘the deliverance could have continued.’ He told us that the therapy of love is the best love and is ‘empowered by Christ.’
The second aspect was ‘Commitment’. Campolo cited an old man who continued to love his wife, despite the fact that she no longer knew who he was due to suffering from Alzheimer's and that his friends tried to persuade him to put her into care. By devoting his time to looking after her he was ‘reneging on (his) calling from God’ to be a minister, they said. ‘She doesn’t know me,’ the old man told them, ‘but I know her.’ He cared for his wife as no-one else could.
‘Concern’ was the third aspect and final aspect, exemplified by Matthew 5:46: ’If you love those who love you, what reward have you?’ Campolo described a trip with students to Cité Soleil, Haiti, where their hearts were broken when they watched several mothers bring out the corpses of their own children for burial. One student, Josh, known as a ‘dangerous’ basketball player, ‘didn’t look so dangerous that day’ when he broke down in tears.
Graham Kendrick’s roughly 30-minute ‘concert’, which followed the talk, contained a couple of new songs I liked, including ‘Thorns In The Straw’ (about Mary considering Jesus’ future as she gazes upon him in the crib). He capped off the evening with old school assembly favourites such as ‘Shine Jesus Shine’, during the final verse of which, Kendrick had the congregation turn and face the exits in order to turn the words into a prayer over the city and the world.
Click here to read our exclusive interview with Tony Campolo.
Pictured above are top Graham Kendrick and, above Tony Campolo, appearing at Proclaimers in Norwich. Pictures by Mike Wiltshire.