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Archive for November, 2012

I LEARN TO LIVE - YEAR END WRAP UP

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Recently I came across a letter, written by Paul Harris of First Rand, which addresses the concerns of friends and family, no longer living in South Africa, for those who continue to live in the country. Quite simply, Harris asks them to stop worrying, because South Africa has, and will continue, to survive.

When I read it, I was reminded of the letter I’ve been meaning to write for a few weeks now. It’s a letter addressed mainly to my Christian friends, those living in South Africa, and those who have left our shores for various reasons. I’ve noticed that we spend a great deal of time worrying and moaning, and very little time actually bringing our fears to God and praying into them (myself included!).

I know I fall into the camp of idealists, dreamers and hopeful optimists. I truly believe that there is good in everyone, and I believe that South Africa is not going to “become another Zim” (how I detest that phrase). I choose not to see “the writing on the wall”, and refuse to believe that all political people are corrupt and motivated only by the self. Am I blind to what is going on around me? Am I not concerned when I see images of murdered miners, and do I not feel fearful when I see the stats on hijackings and rapes? Do I not feel righteous indignation when I hear of taxpayers’ money being spent on Zuma’s Nkandla residence, and watch tenders being delivered into the hands of the incompetent? Of course I do. And yes, it offends me deeply.

But recently, as a Christian, I realised that we have two options: continue to moan, and post bad news stories on Facebook and Twitter, getting ourselves and others into a right froth, and possibly even influencing potential returnees to reconsider their options, or we can turn to our Father, get on our hands and knees, and start praying for this beloved country of ours. Because amidst all this chaos and mayhem, the most beautiful acts of kindness and love are occurring. If you choose to look beneath the surface, you will see transformation and wonder all around. In the past three weeks I have visited community care centres, non-profits, and children’s “villages” in rural Zululand, in the townships near Amanzimtoti, and the sugar-cane fields of Verulam. It was clear that they were places born out of love, and a desire to see peoples lives changed, for the better. Places where abandoned and unwanted children find hope and a home, where HIV positive mothers can gather and find support. As we approach Christmas time, I am once again astounded at the number of requests conveyed via radio, email, and various forms of social media, for toys and goodies for Christmas parties, hosted for orphan and vulnerable children, and others in dire need.  In South Africa it is impossible not to get involved in some way, in the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. And that’s why I love living here. Because in South Africa I am always aware of how closely I need to walk with God. Every day brings an opportunity to serve someone, an opportunity to ask God for guidance and intervention for someone’s plight, each day a chance to realise that we were in fact created to love one another actively. With every treacherous act against humanity, I know that there is only way to turn – to God. I’m realising more and more that we cannot put our faith for our future in a fallible being, but rather we must put it in our unchanging Father.

In 2008, for the first time in my life, I considered leaving South Africa. I had just returned from a short visit to the UK, and came home to a country in the grip of civil unrest. Xenophobic violence had erupted and the smell of fear permeated the air. I became actively involved in the refugee camps around Durban, and the stories I heard, were horrific. One night I stood in a prayer meeting, broken and uncertain, and Rory Dyer (lead elder at Glenridge Church at the time) stood up and addressed us with the simple assertion that we are all born into a particular time and place, not by fate, but by God’s design. Being born and bred in South Africa is no accident; we are here for a purpose, and I’m beginning to realise, it’s probably not the purpose we have in mind!  I was designed for this time and place, and I have the Creator to turn to when I simply cannot face another day, another event, which has me shaking my head in disbelief. If you’ve left South Africa, and are happy in your new home, don’t think that this does not include you: you also have a part to play – pray for us, and the future of this nation, and encourage us as we live out this journey.

We should be praying for the strong women leaders who are standing up in defiant opposition to corruption and incompetence. Pray for Thuli Mandonsela, our Public Protector, who has shown great leadership and commitment in rooting out corruption, and has publically called for the rejection of ‘tenderprenuership’. Pray for Dr Mamphela Ramphele, founder of the Citizens Movement, who has taken on government, in light of its appalling response to the education crisis. Pray for their on-going commitment, and pray for their protection, as they fly in the face of culture and convention. Pray that more people of sound values, and a love for this country and its people,  are voted into key positions with the upcoming elections.

Maybe it’s time to stop fantasising about your double life as a hit-man, working your way heroically through an A-Z of the corrupt and unscrupulous (possibly starting at J), and start being intentional about your actual life as prayer warrior. Pray for the removal of those who work in opposition to the hopes of most South Africans for a peaceful and stable country, and pray that people, guided by the principles of love and service, are voted in.

This is also a challenge to all South Africans, regardless of belief and religious persuasion, to be intentional about the life you have here in South Africa. There is something that each of us can do to improve life for those around us. Find the cause that you are passionate about, and couple it with the talent/s you’ve been given, and make a difference. Because let’s be honest – we live in exciting times!

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