A Childless Pastor's experience

A number of years ago when I was in charge of some churches, a little girl aged nine came to me and posed a question I was least anticipating. “My pastor,” she called, “where is your child? I have never seen her.” Being involuntarily childless, I responded, “We are still praying that God may give us one. I have none my dear daughter.” She was both amazed and concerned how her pastor could not have one. She promised to pray for us to receive God’s blessing.

It is sometimes hard when the storm hits the pulpit. The one who is supposed to provide care becomes the care receiver. Talking about my childlessness as a “man of God” may be interpreted as a lack of faith and seeking the sympathy of the flock that I lead. However, Henry Nouwen inspired me when he said that one leadership fallacy “is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.” Being in this desert of involuntary childlessness, has taught me to take one day at a time, trusting the Lord’s promises and having the audacity to encourage others.

The most painful church service to handle is the dedication of children. This is when mothers who have just given birth, bring their babies to church to be blessed by a pastor. While I will be happy that God’s kingdom has one more candidate that I am dedicating to the glory of God, the pain of childlessness will be ploddingly lingering in my mind. I always remember the priest Zachariah, who though childless, he was serving in the temple. Since the dedication was done in the temple it is likely that he could have dedicated some children.

There are moments when it comes so hard on me. I have to ignore some jokes which are meant to remind me that I am not a man. I have to protect my dear wife from people who are careless in their speech. Seeing my wife roll in the bed responding to uterine pains, brings tears to my eyes. I have to be strong for her and help her through this pain. I always ask God, “Why do you want me to pastor in pain?” I pray like Jesus, “Father let this cup pass.” However, I get the assurance by the Holy Spirit that “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

I have concluded that I am in this condition so that I become the best wounded healer. When someone is talking about childlessness, I do not sympathise, but I empathise. I know the pain and stigma that comes with this. My stumbling block has turned out to be a tool for blessing others who share in my pain.

Sometimes you can feel incapacitated. You may feel worthless. It is normal. Every human being who faces untoward circumstances may feel depersonalised. In looking at pain, I wrote a song that may comfort you in your difficult time. Remember small wings can also fly!!!

Small Wings Can Also Fly

God knows your destination
And he sees your desperation,
Your feet may be swollen
And your heart may be broken.
As your tears begin to fall
His voice begins to call
And it will not cease.

If He can sing a song,
It wouldn’t be wrong.
If He can calm your fears
His voice wouldn’t cease.

Lots of troubles rock around you,
Many people talk about you,
You may be groping in the darkness
Could it be some form of weakness?
Maybe you have lost your hope
God is a fount of hope.
Why hold a broken rope?

Fear not little child
On high places you’ll ride.
Don’t ever stop to try
Small wings can also fly.

By Pastor Sikhumbuzo Dube