I’m in Cape Town, S. Africa with only two days remaining of my seven days here. I came to see first hand the work of Living Hope Ministries which you may check out via an excellent video they produced at https://vimeo.com/124511128 I was encouraged, strongly urged, forced compelled 😉 to come by my friend Jennifer Pence (who “incidentally” has a blog about her many trips & experiences to Cape Town @ http://www.jennifer4africa.weebly.com/ ) and the founders of Living Hope John and Avril Thomas who I had the pleasure of visiting personally with in the states. Jen and I hoped to gain a vision of how First Lutz could meet a specific need of Living Hope Ministry (Hereafter referred to as LHM) that we could present to our mission pastor on our return.
I think that was the idea….I had all my usual fears and doubts prior to leaving that I typically experience. Why am I going? Wouldn’t the money be better spent just sending it directly to LHM? What can I do to help these people whose needs are so great? We have plenty of needy people in N America, I don’t have to go to another country to help people. Our church already has several mission commitments, I’ll never convince them to take on another?
You get it…so I did what any normal believer would do. I prayed and prayed, then I got on the plane and trusted that God in His goodness & grace would lead. Thirty hours later we arrived in Cape Town.
We were “fetched” from the airport, as they say here, by Frans, a totally lovely, patient man and very skilled driver for The Team House where we would be staying.
The following morning we began the whirlwind week of visiting the various branches of LHM inter spliced with sightseeing, coffee drinking, and delicious dining. I confess right now it was the most pleasurable “mission trip” I’ve ever been on and I felt slightly guilty. If you are interested in the specifics of our daily activities and visits to the hospice care, drug rehabilitation, home healthcare visits or kids/teens club, by all means check out Jennifer’s blog site. She posted pics and comments nearly every day.
Cape Town is such a place of contrasts. The natural beauty of mountains, beach and blue water juxtaposed with the ugliness that poverty creates with dirty streets, destruction and disease. Each day as we set out I would ask God to show me what it was He wanted me to learn and why He had brought me here. This is what I think He showed me.
1. The body of Christ worldwide. In my daily experience in Lutz, Florida it is so very easy to forget about the needs and struggles of our sisters and brothers in Christ internationally. I know technology has brought us a long way in broadening our horizons, but there is nothing like seeing, smelling and touching third world conditions and people. Suffice it to say, it quickly puts things into perspective. I have it made and I have a responsibility to be a better steward of my resources materially and my resources spiritually by means of prayer. We are meant to be connected.
2. The Work of Christ– It’s daily, repetitive and mostly menial wherever you are called, but can and should be done with joy and abandonment. I met so many amazing men and women of God serving the people of S. Africa with hearts of love in humble and lowly ways. I can’t even begin to tell you how impressed I am with them. It was an honor just to be in their presence. I am sure they make Jesus smile.
3. The Fellowship of Christ– Traveling across the world and connecting with believers from a different culture was enlightening. They welcomed me and embraced me with joy and sincerity. They weren’t just hospitable, they were holy. They prayed for me, out loud in my presence, hugged me, and blessed me. They honored me. I couldn’t help but think of my responses to people who have visited my country. Did they walk away feeling respected and loved?
All in all, my non- mission mission trip reminded me what God desires the church to be. We are His hands, His feet, His love serving anyone He puts in our path beginning in the body of Christ and extending out to a lost and lonely world.