Sunday, September 2, 2012

A note from a friend..

One of the wonderful ladies that I was able to serve along side wrote about her experience here in Cape Town. She explains things beautifully and honestly. I'm so thankful for her insight! Be blessed:

Did you know that if you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world? Did you know if you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the world‘s wealthy? Did you know if you have never experi- enced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or tor- ture, or the horrible pangs of starvations, you are more blessed than 500 million people alive and suffering? Did you know that if you can read this message you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read at all? 

Keeping these facts in mind, imagine an area the size of the church building of Harmony Grove. Now add make shift homes (no larger than 10 x 10) made of anything you can find - pallets, scrap metal, cardboard boxes, blue tarps. Each home is closely connected to one another with narrow walkways to get in and get out of the community. There are dirt floors, no electricity, and no running water. Each home has an extended family living in 1 or 2 rooms. One particular home that I am aware of has a mom, dad and 4 daughters living in a 10 x 10 space. There are roughly 100 men, women, and children living in this par- ticular community. (It is interesting to note that the South African government can only estimate how many people are living in these townships. It is extremely dangerous for census workers to travel into some of these communities. There is one township called Khayelitsha that has over one million people living in it.) Now add desperation, hopelessness, and addiction. The result is just one of the many townships that dot Cape Town‘s landscape. This particular township is called Woodville. As we pull up to Woodville, I am immediately struck by its location. Although a vast area of Cape Town is extremely poor, we pass by a busy cityscape- stores, restaurants, bumper to bumper traffic, and people walking along the sidewalks. And there in the midst of this commercialization is an area of extreme poverty. We park in a small vacant lot that serves as the entrance to the township. There are 2 cars backed into the lot with their trunks open so you can hear music. In front of the opened trunks is a portable table with 2 pots of soup on it. To the right of the tables are the 2 toilets that serve the residents of Woodville. Coming out of the side of the building that houses the toilets is a water spicket- the only source of running water for these resi- dents.

As we exit from the van the smell from the toilets hits you. The smell is so overwhelming that even if you breathe from your mouth you can taste the stench. There is a line of men, women and children waiting with their bowls and sippy cups for warm soup and bread. For many this is their only decent meal for the week. Their bowls and cups are filthy, and caked with dried food and dirt from past uses. Many of the bowls look as if they have never been washed. Their bowls are containers that I would throw away at home. 

The people in this line are un- desirable people. Many of them are drug addicts or alco- holics who would rather sell the clothes off their children‘s backs, and the bread they re- ceive tonight for another drink or another hit rather than their children being warm and fed. At first glance at these people, I think they aren‘t worthy of hearing the gospel. They aren‘t worth my time if they aren‘t willing to take charge of their lives. But Jesus spent much of his ministry with the undesirables- lepers, prostitutes, the unclean, adulterers, tax collectors, the Gentiles. Jesus sees worth in everyone. He didn‘t say go make disciples of people from only wealthy neighborhoods, or disciples from clean people. Jesus clearly said Go therefore and make disciple of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20). And that‘s despite their race, economic status, health, addictions, or religion (categories that we label people by, not Jesus). It‘s the people standing in line for warm meal. At some point in your life you have thought that some- one was less than you. But in all honestly, whether you will admit it or not, you were also undesirable at some point in your life. You were once covered with the stain of sin. But Jesus saw past the dirt and grime that covered us, and made us new creations. Why do we so clearly see the faults of others, but Jesus sees worth. For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (I Samuel 16:76)

Are you willing to look past outward appearances? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get people in the presence of Jesus? Take the men who brought the para- lytic man to Jesus and lowered him through the roof! These men were willing to look past this man‘s outward appearance- his undesirableness- so that Jesus could heal the man‘s heart before his physical needs. So instead of the residents of Woodville seeing disgust and contempt on my face when I arrived, they should have seen love, goodness and kindness. They should have seen the Holy Spirit. They should have seen that I was willing to do whatever it took to get them in the presence of Jesus. The people should have saw that they were not undesirable, that they are loved. 

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