It’s about relationship

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by Linda Manhardt, Major –

I had the privilege of training two sessions of cadets while I was in Tanzania. We had hundreds of candidates on our waiting list, but because there was no money to build a training college, we were given a section of the hostel on our compound. We transformed the rooms into a training college that consisted of a small chapel, a library, and a classroom. We also had a couple of offices. That was it! And in this humble environment we trained sessions of 12 cadets at a time.

The hostel also gave us six of its small hut-like rooms for the cadet couples to live in, and they had all of their meals at a special table in the large hostel dining room. It was a simple, functional and economical way of training cadets.

My first session of cadets was the “Bridgebuilders.” These 12 individuals had all been pastoring small Army outposts for years and finally were given the opportunity to be trained and commissioned. For the most part, they got along well.

There was one instance of trouble in the session. A cadet had a disagreement with another, and it escalated to the point where he made a serious mistake. The other cadet was slightly injured, and I was left to deal with the errant one.

Before I could bring the cadet into my office, he came to me in tears and on bended knee. I have never seen a man so humble. I knelt with him as he begged me for forgiveness. After much discussion, I told him that God is a God of forgiveness. How could I not forgive him in his contrition, when God did? We prayed together, and I forgave him, because I knew he needed to hear the words.

But there were consequences for his actions. After discussion with the officer commanding, I decided that the most effective discipline would be to separate him from his fellow cadets for a week. He could not attend classes, eat, or fellowship with the others. For a week, he was to remain in his room, with his wife bringing in his meals.

In the African culture, relationship is everything. Midway through the week, he came and pleaded to be allowed to join his sessionmates, but I did not relent. In retrospect, I know now that this punishment was much too harsh.

I have learned many things from my African brothers and sisters. The importance of relationship is one of them. They’ve got it right. Relationship is everything. God is a God of relationship—so much so, that he is in constant relationship with himself.

We are made in God’s image. We are made to be relational!

Somehow, in this Western culture of ours, we’ve become so individualized and independent, that we’ve lost sight of the importance of family and relationships.

It is through relationships that God works to grow us into the people he has designed us to be.
Let us not become so busy in doing things for God that we lose sight of the fact we are called to be in relationship—with God, with friends, corps and family members, and yes, perhaps, even those who come to us for help.

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