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Friday, 13 June 2014 11:28

Failure and trust in God

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Fr Gary Walker ssc 150How does a person know that they are successful in doing God's work? Does it matter? Columban Father Gary Walker reflects on the mysteries of faith and mission.

How does a person know that they are successful in doing God's work? Does it matter? Is it a concern to be a part of a 'successful' Church which is growing and going somewhere? Well yes, it is.

It could be said that the life of Jesus Christ was a failure if it wasn't for the Resurrection. He died a criminal's death despite the wonderful works that He performed and the hope He gave to many people.

In the arduous drama of torture and interrogation He kept his integrity. He always had a focus - His Father's will.

Fortunately, the Resurrection turns His failure and death into a success story after His dreadful ending on Good Friday. Does that matter? Yes it does, God does see things differently from us.

We like success. Success is a fine thing and an important part of our culture. People are applauded for their success and avoided if they fail.

But then I think of the success and failure of Bishop Edward Galvin, the co-founder of the Columban Fathers. He had a dream to convert China to Christianity. Against the odds the dream became a reality in the 1920s when a fledgling band of Columban missionaries travelled to Hanyang in China to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. They had hard times from natural disasters, bandits, civil war and sickness but the work prospered until the Communists took power in 1948.

Then Bishop Galvin saw 30 years of missionary work cease and dismantled. The 'Cathedral' Church in Hanyang was turned into a factory and 130 churches in the diocese were demolished.

How does one deal with that? Bishop Galvin said that the Columbans had not come to China to convert the Chinese but to do God's will.

Recently, I was on a trip to Wuhan and a young Chinese priest, Fr Joseph took our group to visit former Columban parishes.

How surprised would Bishop Galvin be to know that Columban priests and sisters are back in China albeit in a small, humble way? He would also be suprised to know that Fr Joseph recently received news of compensation from the government to rebuild a Church that had been destroyed years ago.

This article was originally published in the May 2014 edition of The Far East, the publication of the St Columban's Mission Society.

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