Ella & Annemarie
What do you think you can learn from a South African township? Do you know what one is? (Try http://freebooter.me/2013/10/31/townships-a-different-aspect-to-south-africa/ if you want an idea).
Ella Mahlulo takes tours of Knysna township ( http://www.emzinitours.co.za ), and in the process educates and unwraps your in-built fears and maybe even prejudices. She is a human dynamo bringing hope into the daily grind, fostering neglected children, sheltering abused women, coaxing truanting children back to school, soup kitchen quite aside from bringing so many to faith. Her story represents a will to overcome the odds with the help of the Lord.
After dropping out of school in her teens, she went back in her mid-20’s by masquerading as a young girl. Having found Jesus, she went on to bring others to Him. When asked about any feeling of anger from those in the township towards their former oppressors, her response was they have none because they know that their next life will be better.
One of the noticeable features of the township is the number of churches, from tin huts to more substantial buildings. Christianity has a strong hold here amongst the (materially) poor.
So one conclusion you might draw is that those who have the least may actually gain the most….
Ring any bells?
There are some sermons that just hit you between the eyes, and the one given by Father Luke at St Martins-in-the-Veld was a good example. His opening proposition was there there could be no such existence as a passive Christian since they were opposite conditions. Jesus called on us to be ‘doers’ not armchair spectators, and in answer to the what and the how, Father Luke gently reminded that Jesus never expected us to do the impossible, and He equipped us with the tools to do what we needed to.
Expanding on that, the point was made that we are most probably already using the talents or gifts that we have been given, just not always for His ministry. We may not all be called upon to be preachers or evangelists, but all sorts of skills are needed to make for a thriving, joyous and lively church.
If you are reading this, there is a good chance you are already contributing to the broader ministry, but we each need to reflect and consider if He might find us falling short. Not always an easy question to address, as I would be the first to admit.
Coming from a UK rural benefice, it is truly wonderful to experience a different culture with a congregation drawn from all backgrounds and ancestries. Nowhere have I understood better that the love of Jesus shows us that we are all brothers and sisters united in faith, but who just happen to wear different outer garments. Before the Cross, all are equal.
Imagine a place where you might see a commercial building with huge signs proclaiming ‘Jesus is Lord’, (shame about the tree)?
Or where you might see trucks with Bible quotes in place of commercial ads on the back or sides?
A country with a future that has people unafraid to declare their faith for the world to see, and be ready to share it with others?
A place where our ancestors used to send missionaries…………….
Where in England would a humble security guard ask if he could take you, the hotel guest, to his church on Sunday….?
I am so sad that we are not due to be in Johannesburg again this year on a Sunday, and so cannot take him up on his offer.