Hi, my dear friends and family!
I’m sorry its been so long since my first blog post. Once I’m back in Mozambique, I’ll have more of a routine. But since mission work is a lifestyle and not just subject to where we are, God has been been doing some awesome things here in East London, South Africa.
God’s hand is moving everywhere, especially in the least expected places. This is a testimony of how God lead me to what goes by the name “The Dark Side of Park Side”, and how He showed me a small group of beautiful people who are dedicating themselves to bringing light in their community. I hope you are encouraged!
We are all just travelers of the same river. Grandparents, parents, sons and daughters; we all have our time on the river. We do what we can while we are here. This is my time. Your time. Our time. Soon our time will be up. We choose how we will use the time we have.
With time comes change. The person who woke up yesterday is not the same person who woke up today. How will we change? What will we change? Who will we change?
First, a bit of the background story.
While in Mozambique, I spent over 12 hours sitting with the orphan girls as they braided endless amounts of black plastic weave into my hair. As I’m sure you can imagine, this was a painful experience. To many it may even seem ridiculous. It however created the most beautiful time of bonding and ministry. Every minute was a priceless investment into their lives.
I loved my braids, and at the border post I was still receiving complements from the Mozambicans. Having the braids in South Africa is however a very different social statement. I soon realized it was best to take them out.
I kept just 8 small braids because I couldn’t bare all the hours of work disappearing so quickly. God, in His humour, decided these braids were the exact opportunity He would use.
It all started in Tekkie Town (a South African shoe store).
“Why do you have this in your hair?” She questioned me with firm emphasis in her voice.
Taking a deep breath, and choosing not to be offended, I once again began to explain my braids. I’d barely said much when the woman interrupted me to call over a fellow employee. She too wanted to hear the testimony of what God is doing in the lives of the orphan children of Mozambique. Within a few minutes, this divinely appointed conversation had moved both ladies to tears.
One of the women, Claudine, asked me if I would please come encourage their youth group. This all seemed very spontaneous, but I took her number with the promise to place it before the Lord.
The following week, I confirmed that I’d be honoured to share with the youth group.
Friday evening at 5pm, I picked Claudine up from work and we headed across the city to the township. Gosh, was I in for an adventure! We winded deeper and deeper into the township as she directed me to the places where youth could be waiting for a lift.
Thinking back, I wish I had taken photos to show you some of the places where we stopped. I had chosen not to, simply because it would have been culturally insensitive and disrespectful. Now, I realize that we all already know what poverty looks like. The hundreds of shack houses separated by narrow, barely accessible, derelict roads. The thick smell of smoke in the air. Piles of rubbish and plastics spewn across the ground. Filthy sewage water causing streams to fill the foot paths. The over-populated township area with young and innocent rag-clothed children playing in the dirt.
The poverty surrounding me cut at my heart. The sun was barely set on Friday evening, but already shouts were rising from drunk men and women crowding in the streets. What made this so painful to witness were the countless children and young teenagers stuck in this poverty environment. This is their usual weekend life, playing with glass bottles and sticks in the street, no option but to be influenced by the alcohol, drugs and abuse rife in their community.
It’s one thing seeing poverty in Mozambique, knowing it is the second poorest country in the world. It’s entirely different seeing the living conditions of these people only a few kilometres from the wealthy suburbs.
“Why are you showing me this, Lord? I’m only in East London for a short while. It’s painful knowing I can’t help any of these underprivileged children.”
Claudine noticed the concern on my face. In her smile, I saw a glimpse of why she has dedicated her time to love these children.
Once my car was full and all the other children knew there would be youth, we headed for the small building where the church meets. I was surprised to find that most of the youth group were actually young adults who’s lives God had changed. They chose to meet here on Friday nights instead of be influenced by the township lifestyle. Now the message I felt lead to share made more sense! I could literally see the eagerness on the faces of those listening as the Lord challenged their hearts.
It was such a privilege to be a part of this small meeting. There was a freedom and joy in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I left overwhelmed by all that God had done.
Our time together was blessed, and the leaders asked me to please visit again for their church service on the Sunday. Needless to say, it took a lot longer to find the church the second time round.
This was not the ususal church experience. It was an eye opening realization. These believers hold onto faith and depend on the Lord for literally their life. When they pray, they passionately cry out to the Lord that their lives and those they love will be safe through the night. That they will be protected from the drunks, thieves and murderers in their neighbourhood. When they sing to the Lord, they worship Him until their voices are hoarse from the raw honesty as they pour out their praises and thanks for His faithfulness. And, when they celebrate His goodness, they dance with every fibre in their being.
In the midst of this poverty-stricken darkness, a light shines so bright!
I believe the Lord took me on this adventure to show how He is moving in the places that seem hopeless. Yes, there is much poverty and evil in this world, but look what God is doing. In the midst of it all, there are His people carrying His presence. They are bringing hope, love, peace, joy and faith. There are good people calling out to God to touch their lives and the lives of those around them.
Our time of influence in this life is short. The believers in Park Side have chosen to make a difference in their community. Their positive influence has become undeniable. We too influence those around us, its as simple as that. How we influence them is what will determine the worth of our time here. Instead of being discouraged by the state of our nation, we are to be expectant for where the Lord has placed us. Expectant for the change and healing He is bringing. I pray your faith is encouraged to see that God is bringing life in the middle of what is known as the darkest places. He is doing it through you and me.