It was the last night of a Clergy and Evangelist Conference in the Diocese of Alotau, Papua New Guinea. I was there teaching about how to be a good leader. Bishop Clyde had expected about 50 people to attend but about 300 turned up; some having walked for 3 days from the Highlands to get there! The worship team at the Conference was fantastic - 6 guitarists! The singing was heavenly.
Guitar strings are hard to come by in Papua New Guinea; it’s often easier to buy a new guitar! I had taken 5 sets of strings with me to give away and they were quickly taken. I held on to my last set in case I needed them later in the week for my final presentation in the neighbouring Diocese of Port Moresby.
A man approached me while I was there.
“Father, can I have a private word with you?”
My friend and I found a spare spot outside so he could talk.
“I lead worship in my village but I have a problem. I have broken 5 strings so I play with only 1 string” he said.
I am sorry to say that my initial reaction was one of scepticism. I thought, “He’s having me on”.
Would I give him my very last set of strings on the basis of such a tall story? I find it hard enough to produce a decent sound with 6 strings. He can’t do it on one, surely.
So I gave him a test. “Here, play your favourite worship song on my guitar”. And he did. He made my guitar dance. He made it sound like a symphony and I then had no doubts at all about the sincerity of his request. I joyfully gifted him my last set of strings. His face glowed and his eyes moistened.
Something as simple as guitar strings can provide so much joy.
While in Auckland last weekend I popped in to a music shop and asked “How much would you charge for 100 sets of guitar strings?” I can’t wait to take them over next time!