South Africa… Eagerness and Patience

Most of you will be aware that Hillview sent a team of 10 to Cape Town, South Africa to work with an organisation called All Nations. We returned on the 16th of July and I’ve been trying to digest it all ever since. Firstly, we had a great time! Over the course of the 12 days away I think everyone felt God say something to them, felt they were used by God and were taught by Him. We gelled well together as a team and as we prayed and sang at our first meeting together in February, I believe God did bind us together!

As I’ve digested the trip I’ve been looking for one thing that stood out most to me on the trip and I think I’ve found it. I’m not always the best communicator of my thoughts (just ask my family!) so I thought I’d write this down and share it.

During those 12 days we predominantly helped out at a camp for children aged 4 all the way up to youth aged 16. These young people live in a township called Masiphumelele or Masi for short. Masi is a township set up in the early 1990’s that has a mixed bag of people living in it – many different nationalities are represented in approximately the square kilometre of land to the south of Cape Town. The poverty in the place is sometimes indescribable and the conditions often need to be seen to be believed. A mixture of brick buildings in disrepair to shacks surrounded by open sewers are called home by approximately 45,000 people. During a time walking through an area called “The wetlands” one team member described the experience as, “I feel like I’m in a Tearfund video”.

All Nations runs a program called Isithembiso (Children of Promise) and with them we took 70 of these young people away for 4 days to a place called the Rocklands Centre. The centre was about 10 miles away but the contrast in conditions were like night and day for all the young people. My cabin had 6 guys in it aged between 12 and 16 years old! Great guys! Many of these young men have had to experience losing loved ones at a very early age in horrendous circumstances. I grew to love them all and we had some great times together. The camp consisted of times of teaching, worship, bible study, sports, games, dances, dramas, good food and some sleep! They had warm beds, hot showers (there was actually the fight to who would get up first to get in the shower in the morning!! I don’t expect that same conversation at Soul Survivor next week!) and they could live in a safe place for four days and be cared for and loved on.

One night during the worship times we were singing something along the lines of “Heaven come down” and my mind jumped to what it would mean for Jesus to return now for these children. And it was that thought that never left me for too long for the remainder of our time there. In my middle class-ness the words – “Come Lord Jesus, Come” – sometimes ashamedly doesn’t mean what they should. In my nice warm house, with my two cars on the drive, nice clothes in the wardrobe, good food on the table each and every day, the words “Come Lord Jesus, come” often mean, “Lord Jesus, come in a little while as life is great at the moment!” 1 Corinthians 1:7 says, “Eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ” and Philippians 3:20 says “And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Saviour”. The word ‘eagerly’ sticks out like a sore thumb!!

The night after the camp we were back in our accommodation at All Nations Africa House and the team had a great time of worship together. During it I again couldn’t shake the thought of “Come Lord Jesus Come” and when I observed my surroundings and thought on where my guys were at in Masi, it hit me hard. Really hard. I was struck with a real sadness and just couldn’t stop crying. Thinking about it even now feels difficult and I hope that feeling doesn’t leave me for a long time. I need the reminder. That night I really really prayed the words, “Come Lord Jesus”. There was a fervour in those words that I don’t think had been there before. Certainly not that intensity.

What do I do with this? I’ve been asking myself that for the past 2 weeks and I’m not sure I’ve got a full answer yet. There is certainly something for me to appreciate what I have been abundantly blessed with (and please don’t think I’m money bashing here!) but there is something bigger for me to ensure I enjoy God more than anything else in this world. Ensuring He is so much the number 1 in my life, ensure that I fall in love with Him more and more that the things of this world do pale into insignificance. I want something that guarantees that eagerness is always there. Of all that I learnt when I was out there, so far that is the stand out lesson for me – eagerness. An intent desire to know God more and more and for Him to return soon.

For my boys I think I need to look to verse 8 of 1 Corinthians 1 where it says, “He will keep you strong to the end” and James 5, “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return….. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near”. I need to be praying that for them – strength and patience. They will know the patience that the verse speaks of more than I ever will, a patience that can only come from the Holy Spirit working in you. Similarly to me but also the complete opposite to me, I pray that they would eagerly desire to know God and His love so much that the things of this world pale into insignificance.

I hope that as I continue to consider “what do I do with this?” that God will continue to show the answer.