Coming to South Africa was daunting. You read (and are told) stories about the country from people who live here – and others that don’t – and you wonder, “Do I really want to put myself in that position?”
Thankfully I told my fears to God and He met with me. He calmed my fears and gave me the strength to come and live here with my family for what will be 9 months.
Whilst in SA, we are being mentored by a lovely couple who head up the UK section to CRM – a missionary organisation with many branches and visions. One branch is called InnerChange who operate around the world living incarnationally with the poor; they bring the good news by ‘doing life’ with people.
We met Paul and Debbie, members of an InnerChange team, via Skype a few weeks before we left for SA. They live in the township of Soshanguve, just outside Pretoria. The idea of living amongst the materially poor has always attracted us. When you read about the life of Jesus, he mostly hung out with ‘the poor’ – people whom many had forgotten or sidelined and it is these people who grew to love Him the most. We toyed with the idea of visiting the team on arriving in SA (well let’s face it, Chris did – I think I responded with a ‘pfft’ at the thought of going somewhere so dangerous!)
However we have just returned from spending 10 days with Paul and Debbie, where we lived in their RDP house in the township and we’re still alive! Everyone we met was friendly – curious, maybe a bit shocked, but friendly – and not once did I feel afraid when walking around during the day. One still has to be wise however and we did not go out at night. The area we stayed in was, on the whole, neat and tidy and you could sense that the residents owned their community – they wanted to look after a place they had grown to love. Soshanguve seemed to have a hope that perhaps other townships do not. Maybe having a team in full time ministry there for them is aiding that.
I am amazed by how far God has taken me these past five months. He has changed me, subtly, slowly, but I am starting to see His changes in my reactions to circumstances and my outlook on life. Our decision to travel to Soshanguve (which has resulted in our car breaking down again) came out of the knowledge that God would like me to go. He’d like me to experience a little of the life of this township and see what His team are doing. He’d like me to ponder the question – Could I do this? And ultimately He wants to see me trust Him.
I am still learning to trust Him. This year has been a physical, emotional and spiritual journey for us. However, I hope I will always be open to learning from the master, who has so much life to offer us; we just have to have a little less fear and follow Him.