On Monday 6 June it was time for me to give the méditation in the “service in class” of my language class. I spoke about the importance of feeding from the Bible, using the coots (see photo below) that are so common around Massy as a visual example.
The three main points were: 1. children need their parents (baby Christians need one or more spiritual parents to feed them and help them), 2. children need to learn how to feed themselves (baby Christians need to learn how to feed themselves from the Bible and then to teach others the same thing, who will teach others…) and 3. dive with enthusiasm (feed from the Bible with enthusiasm, put some real effort into it!).
Anyway, when I was preparing for this, my mind went back to the man who first showed me how to study the Bible for myself. His name was Nigel Lee, and it was at an Operation Mobilisation training weekend for student leaders. I’m pretty sure it was 1979, I was at Liverpool University and involved in the leadership of the Evangelical Christian Union (CU), Nigel was one of the missioners at the CU Mission that year: as far as I can remember, that was when we met. The weekend was, I think, later in the year.
Nigel Lee died of cancer on 30 March 2006. I’d like to share some things he wrote around that time:**
“My dislike of hospital dramas in TV is well known in my family. Needles and knives, bedpans and blood tests – they give me the chills. So having to spend ten days in hospital, being operated on for aggressive cancer, was always going to be difficult.
“Do people die of this?” I’d asked the Macmillan nurse. “Oh yes,” she said, beaming at me, as if this was an everyday occurrence. But not to me it wasn’t!
The seriously ill men on my ward were facing their future in different ways, some with anger, some with fear, even despair. At the end of the day, when the visitors had gone, we would talk quietly together.
I work in my spare time as a presenter of a BBC religious programme called The Daily Service. People who listen in are often looking for words of wisdom, or a spiritual ‘connection moment’, even from Radio 4! What had I got to say now?
I found that Christian faith grew stronger under these circumstances. It’s about hope – not the sort of hope that buys lottery tickets, but a certainty concerning life after death, based on Christ’s explanation of his own resurrection. It’s also about experience. As I had more time to read the Bible, I found the risen Lord stepping off the pages, talking to me about my soul, my relationships and my future. We need anchors like this when life stops being a TV drama and becomes really scary.”
I lost touch with Nigel not long afterwards, as I spent the next years running around the Middle East working as a geologist. But what he taught me has never ever left me. I’ll just have to wait a little while longer to thank him in person.
So, please do learn to feed from the Bible, please do teach others how to feed from the Bible and never underestimate the impact that even the briefest contact with someone else might have.