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The Ministry of Absence

So for several years now we’ve been hearing about this thing called ministry of presence, when you’re “there for people” in their time of need and minister simply by being there…more or less. With that stuck in my head as a common model of ministry, you can imagine my confusion when I read through Henri Nouwen’s book A Living Reminder and find him talking about a ‘Ministry of Absence’. I immediately went “HUH?!” As I read on it made sense though. So often we feel we have to be with people to comfort them that we forget that it is God who actually does the work in the person. Nouwen’s point is that just as Christ had to leave this world to send the Holy Spirit down upon us, so to in ministry must we know when to leave the person in the hands of God and allow the Holy Spirit to descend upon them and begin the healing that only the Hand of God can work. There was more in the book than just that one concept, but that is the thing that stuck out to me as I read through so I wrote on that. The book was a quick read, coming in at under 75 pages long in the big-margin, 1.5 spacing print (gotta love it!). Decent book; though I wasn’t entirely sure how it all came together as a whole…the pieces were nice.

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