From a distance I saw them. Two young
women…hardly women…girls, more like it…walking down the street, the one wrapped
in a cheap, dirty blanket, the other scarcely covered, her bare legs bruised
and scarred with cigarette burn marks. Who are these girls? Where do they come
from? They are just two of many who stand at street corners day and night in
the area where we live. What made them turn to a life of prostitution, subjecting
themselves to being violated night after night by vile men who live duplicitous
lives? Is there a parent watching through a window, waiting for the return of
the prodigal…or is the parent already overburdened with life, trying to
maintain a house filled with too many mouths to feed with little or no income…or
is there no parent at all? My heart bled…
There are way too many homeless people all
around us. Beggars fight each other at traffic lights as they defend their
territory. Men, women, and children unashamedly scratch around in trash bins
looking for something to stave off the hunger pains. Many sleep among the
graves in the graveyards…some on the sidewalks…others under bridges or bushes. Those
who are fortunate enough to find a small job here or there, live in shacks made
out of iron and plastic sheeting…shacks that leak when it rains or are
flattened when the wind blows. And this, twenty years after apartheid was
dismantled! It is not as if there is no money…it is not uncommon to see the
latest models of expensive motor vehicles whizzing by. Pricey restaurants are
filled to capacity every night. The malls are filled with shoppers…there is
And it is not that there is no Christian
presence here either…many churches are involved in some or other philanthropic
endeavour. But usually that is a side line item in the otherwise attraction
centred model of church growth. Dirty, unwashed, and unkempt souls are not
generally the kind of people the more fortunate enjoy hanging out with. But
wait…this sounds all too familiar…just read the four Gospels.
In his book, The Christ of the Indian Road,
Stanley Jones relates how he once asked Mahatma Gandhi how to naturalize
Christianity into India. Gandhi apparently replied in part: “I would suggest first of all that all of you
Christians, missionaries and all begin to live more like Jesus Christ.” Which
makes me wonder what he would have said about the Church of Jesus Christ in
southern Africa…or, more pointedly, what Jesus might have said were He to
address us today. In our behaviour, do we mirror the ecclesiastical elite of 1st
Century Palestine…or do we mirror the one who came to serve, not to be
served…the one who came to give His life a ransom for many…the one who was
accused of being a friend of tax-collectors and sinners? Do I even need to
answer that question?
It is true that we simply cannot help
everyone…but everyone can help someone. If every person attending a church
could be trained to take just one person under their wing…just one…surely we
could make quite a dent in the problems we encounter in this society. General
Jan Smuts, one time leader of South Africa and friend of Winston Churchill,
apparently used to say that if a problem is solvable, it is no longer a
problem. The problem of vagrancy, prostitution, and poverty is solvable…if only
all our parishioners were trained to make disciples like Jesus made disciples…if
only our Christians lived more like Christ.
Growing the Church has a wonderful tool that
is simple and yet life-changing…if only we can get it out there. Some Dioceses (especially
in the Gauteng area where we have done two trainings and will do another at the
end of August – as well as Mpumalanga in September) have responded positively
and we have trained a number of folk there. Some of these trainees have
embraced the material and have used it to teach many more. But there are still
many who have not responded at all. Our introductory trip to the Eastern Cape
has yet to show any fruit…
Please pray with us for the removal of all
obstacles…this disciple-making material can change the spiritual landscape of
southern Africa! I believe that with all my heart…because it is the very same
model Jesus used.
Pray for our three day training in the
Western Cape this weekend and for a possible training in Arniston next weekend!
On a more personal note, please continue to
pray for our support raising efforts. We are still not up to snuff on our SAMS-USA
budget. Please pray with us to the Lord of the Harvest, as this is quite
Please pray for our children and
Hanno and Lauren – Jeremiah (soon to be 6),
Beatrix (2), and Constance (just over one month old). Jeremiah has
broad-spectrum autism, but is doing well, even at school. Beatrix and Constance
were born with a genetic disorder that causes severe hearing impairment.
Beatrix has cochlear implants now and seems to be doing very well. Constance
must still jump through all the medical hoops to get hers. Please pray for them
as a family as they deal with these challenges. But, from what we can see, they
are a happy family with ready smiles.
Heyns and Hanna – Amelia (18 months) is the
sunshine of their lives and is quite a character, and Baby E (yes!). They will
be flying over to visit us mid-August. Pray for a wonderful time of love and
fellowship and bonding. We do miss them all so!
Please pray for the ministry of Growing the
Church. Our budget was cut in half this year…there is still so much work to be
done out there!
Please pray for Louise’s 92-year-old mum…affectionately
known as the Queen. She is still struggling with wounds on her shins. We are
able to pop over the mountain every now and again to see her for which we are
And lastly, please pray for rain. While we
are thankful for the rain and snow we have had, we are all too aware of the alarmingly
low water levels in the major dams. We need much more rain and a lot more snow
in the catchment areas especially.
Thank you for being there for us…you are all
appreciated. May the Lord bless you way beyond your wildest thoughts.