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Friday, September 24, 2010

Ministry to a hopeless man

is build up from a conversation between a lonely farmer in a hospital bed and a theology student visiting him twice before the farmer dies during an operation. Nouwen analyses the single, hard-working farmer's fear of death as well as his despair in life and the strange and impersonal milieu of the hospital. Then he digs into the question how the young minister could have led the farmer to a new tomorrow, from which he derives principles of Christian ministry and leadership. Key characteristics of an effective minister would be that he is filled with personal concern, that he would give the lonely farmer an idea of someone waiting for him - whether in life or in death -; someone with faith in the meaning of life and that he would give him hope. Key to this kind of ministry "is that the way out is the way in, that only by entering into communion with human suffering can relief be found". "... every Christian is constantly invited to overcome his neighbour's fear by entering into it with him, and to find in the fellowship of suffering the way to freedom".

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