Today we celebrate the life of Ini Kopuria. Born in the Solomans in the early 20th century, Ini studied as a young man at an Anglican school, meant to train young men to teach their own people. Though many sensed his calling early on, Ini first became a police officer. He gained respect there for his dedication and witness. Later Ini left the police force and was the first Elder of the Melanesian Brotherhood, an Anglican order devoted to spreading the Gospel among non-Christian areas in Melanesia. The order focused on simplicity and peacekeeping.
I just met with a Diocesan discernment committee for people discerning a call to ordained ministry. What I have seen over the years is that discerning God’s will in our lives is never easy. Often our paths go all over the place, taking unexpected turns, especially when we are avoiding God’s call on our lives. Like Ini, we sometimes boldly choose paths that we later find do not feed us, or at least do not use all the gifts God has given us. Discerning God’s call is hard, and takes much work.
What I like about Ini’s story is that he reminds us that even if we are not currently where we are called to be or have made missteps in our discernment, God uses all of our journey to feed us and others. Though he served as a cop and later became an elder in the Brotherhood, the two vocations informed one another. After keeping the secular peace, he later fought for sacred peace – a peace motivated by the God of Peace. That last line in Zechariah reminds me of Ini’s life: the passage describes a vision of horses who proclaim, “We have patrolled the earth, and lo, the whole earth remains at peace.” Ini’s whole life was about peace, even if it took different forms and shapes.
Though God uses us differently at different stages of our life, that does not mean we are not wholly ourselves. The common thread of our identity remains true. No matter what our vocation, God can use our specific gifts. Our invitation is to be in discernment about how God can use us in this moment, in this place, with our specific gifts. God can always use us for good, no matter what our current situation. Amen.