VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE! (Part 1) [Or, ‘a day in the life of yours truly’]

Wednesday 27th Feb. 2013…

I’m up early because Wednesday is usually a full day. I drive to peri-urban Mordecai, a home for abandoned babies we as a group of churches pioneered in the early 2000’s. I meet up with Tey, a thirty-year old ‘leader’ from the nearby ultra-poor shack-community of Ericadene – we attended an organic garden course two years ago and have since grown fresh vegetables (making many mistakes along the way) for the home and a nearby soup kitchen. We discuss plans for the day.

Ma Beauty, the house mother, tells me how the Lord had watched over her teen son the previous day (we had touched on the phenomenology and ministry of angels the previous Sunday morning at our monthly Mordecai house church gathering). Her son Sipho was returning from school and, taking a shortcut through the bush, was attacked by some thugs (life is cheap in the area) and relieved of his cellphone and shoes. Providentially, he had come to no serious physical harm although somewhat shaken up by the event. She shares with us her thanksgiving to God for his protection.  

I return home to finalise a discipling session at 1 pm with Grade 5 to 9 kidz at a local township school, again in a very poor community. We have opportunities each Wednesday and Friday to impact the children with the good news and life-skills. I pick up Rachel who heads up our junior group and then I am enthusiastically greeted by my own group of approx. 70 students packed into our classroom like sardines. Early that morning I had become aware that my ‘ministry fund’ stood at zero and had hurriedly scribbled in my prayer diary ‘Lord, you know about the ministry fund.’ As I am about to commence the class, a member from my previous congregation rushes up and pushes something into my hand. She had meant to pass on the gift last year, but does so now and adds “Better late than never… use it for whatever!” A quick perusal of the gift reveals banknotes amounting to R.1000. Wow, generous! And what timing! Before discussion around the Bible passage for the day, I share the incident with the pupils to illustrate God’s faithfulness in providing for our ministry needs – they stare at the wad of notes, wide-eyed. Together we now inter-act with the Bible story of the young shepherd called by Yahweh to succeed Saul, king of Israel. [I am taking tiny baby-steps in the fine art of cross-cultural Bible ‘storeying’ – thanks for your input, Frits and Nicky, missionary friends serving with the Makua in N. Mozambique] 

I had pre-arranged a coffee-break in the afternoon with a house church colleague, Marthinus, and looked forward to our bi-weekly chat. I enjoy the trip to the beach-front area where he stays. On arrival he tells me that at 5 pm he would be picking up 5 new converts he was busy discipling, for baptism. I had misunderstood the baptism to be on Thursday, which I would not have been able to attend. After coffee we travel to New Brighton township where 5 young men are waiting for Marthinus. They had been thoroughly ‘catechised’ in baptism and discipleship by Marthinus and Monde, a fellow-believer in New Brighton. These young men had been meeting for weeks of Bible study each day after work at Monde’s humble home. We drive together to nearby Brighton Beach. It’s a magnificent and balmy summer’s evening as Marthinus, his friend Jannie and I join the 5 super-excited young baptismal candidates. They sing happily as they make their way to the water’s edge. Two young Muslim children look on curiously. After brief Bible reading and prayer, Marthinus and Monde immerse the five young men in the waves and pray over them. They’re ecstatic! For a moment Brighton Beach becomes Galilee Beach beach for me. In perfect 3-part harmony the young men sing, to a beautiful melody new to me, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!’ I briefly relate to the gently shivering men the story (urban legend?) of the great Swiss Reformed theologian Prof. Karl Barth, who many years ago, in an academic  setting, was asked by a young student to share the greatest theological truth he had wrestled with. The story goes that Karl Barth uttered the lines the newly baptised men had just sung, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know…’ We head for home shaking off the sand, tired and thankful.

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