We are surrounded by the sounds of the
African Bushveld…and yet we are only a few miles from some of the largest
cities in Southern Africa! Appropriately named “Innebos” (Dutch for In the
Bush) is our stop for tonight and tomorrow night.
We left Graskop at about 8 AM and drove
north along the same route we drove yesterday…but this time we kept going up to
a town by the name of Tzaneen. As I’ve already said a few times, I was in this
general area 40 years ago, but it was in Tzaneen that I first encountered the
Anglican Church since having become a follower of Jesus myself. I was still a
very young Christian and the liturgy was way above my head. Truth be told, I
was bored stiff. So, to keep myself awake during the service, I started to
harass the young lady in front of me. I tied her shoelaces together…I blew in
her neck or tickled it…and then I attempted to steal her Prayer Book…when she
tried to stop me, her head hit the pew in front of her with a crash! We giggled
all the way through the rest of the service. Outside, one of my fellow
missionaries bluntly stated: “If you do not respect the Anglican Church, at
least respect God!” I’ve never forgotten that scolding. Dear Les died a few
years later…
But there was also a church in an area
still known as Ofcolaco….or, as one of the residents said, the last outpost of
the British Empire. And that’s what this church was…a bunch of rich British
farmers that wanted a piece of England in their African lives. After the Eucharist,
one chap turned to another and said, “Now I’ve been cleansed from sin so I can
sin all over again.” We chuckled thinking he was jesting, but no…they went to
their British Club and got plastered…all of them. While trying to lead one of
the women there to the Lord she looked me squarely in the eye and asked, “What
do I need God for? I have a wonderful husband, we have two beautiful boys, we
have a farm, and all the money we need. Why would I need Him?”
We stopped at Ofcolaco today…not much going
on there now. The church had burned down a few years ago, but a family member
rebuilt it. Most of the old British folks have left and church services are
only once every six or seven weeks or on special occasions. Sad really…did the
Lord remove His candlestick? The young farmer who still works there – three
generations, he told me – was very kind and showed us the new church built very
much along the lines of the old one. I could still see myself standing in line
to shake the hands of the parishioners as they left the building…
From Tzaneen we pressed on down to
Polokwane where Bishop Martin Breytenbach lives…he is the head of Growing the
Church…and we wanted to stop in with him to discuss possible dates for training
in His Diocese. We are looking at March next year. We arrived at lunchtime…the
worst possible time to arrive…but the electricity had gone off in his area and
we were fasting anyway, so no one felt awkward. We prayed together and then
“Fasting?” you may ask. Yes, fasting. The
head of J-Life Africa, has asked all the trainers to fast every Thursday for 13
weeks praying specifically for a paradigm shift in the way church is done here.
Everything is still a holdover from the past and very attraction oriented.
Clergy control just about every thing and parishioners do little more than show
up for ‘church’. So, we are fasting a praying that the Lord will lead us all
back to His biblical model…the model of disciple making…and that church folks
will not view this as just another fad in the long line of other fads that have
come and gone…but something that works and ought to become part of the warp and
the woof of their lives as followers of Jesus. Pray with us, please.
It was a long and rather boring drive to
Pretoria. Besides the Toll Booths there was not much to break up the monotony
of driving on a Highway. But it was far and my rear end began to have a loud
conversation with me…I told him to be quiet and longsuffering. And it paid off
in the end…oops, that’s a pretty good pun, even if I must say myself.

Innebos is a place where a weary soul can
rest and be replenished…and now for bed…goodnight all y’all.