Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Search for an Unbreakable Identity Among Marginalized Peoples

Wow, I had meant to post this blip even before Thanksgiving came around! (As you can see by the date). I hope everyone's Christmas celebration was as great as mine was, being back home with family, and seeing heavy snowflakes falling listlessly out the window. And a Happy New Years!

Well, I admit I struggle to produce anything in a timely manner when not forced to (such as term papers in college). Man alive, I would stress myself needlessly with those reports simply because I put them off to the very last moment. But let us get back to my original topic of discussion...

After finishing a temporary job with a construction company last November in the nearby Lummi Indian Reservation, I could see many similarities with the pre-formed nation of South Sudan. The people of the latter are right now at a critical juncture whereby the various tribes must somehow come together for a functional identity that they can find dignity and purpose in. As I have worked in the Lummi Nation I have witnessed in part this ongoing struggle for identity, in which many have seemed to give up hope on it.

As one top Sudanese scholar Francis M. Deng notes in the introduction to his epic 1995 work on the problem of identity in Sudan War of Visions, "what people think they are counts more than what they objectively are [in culture, ethnic heritage, etc]." I believe this establishment of an identity is crucial in the foundation of any nation for it to see prosperity and fulfilling purpose into the future. In South Sudan, the majority have fought for their right to their land and way of life, free from Arab/Islamic domination. Consequently, many have become Christians for political reasons as the strongest way to gain foreign support in their fight for freedom from their northern, predominantly Muslim, oppressors. Yet, this chosen identity, while temporarily unifying the southerners, will not lead to true development and sustainable communities within South Sudan unless it is unless the people are continuing on a path of complete dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ. I have heard many Sudanese acknowledging it is God who has brought them the peace of the 2005 CPA ( to stop the mass killing in the south, but are wondering if His work is now done for them and they have to fight the corruption of their own government on their own.

My increasing passion and focus is in being apart of long-term community development in remote areas of Sudan. For this to arise anywhere, it must have a firm framework of working Biblical principles that are wholly relevant to the immediate culture at hand. So much of why the Gospel of Jesus has not taken deeper root in Africa is because the people were initially told to completely divorce themselves of their culture. But this essentially cuts them off from their own people, and increase barriers to seeing Jesus as He truly is--the bringer of freedom and abudant life to ALL nations! I am one who is convinced that the African church in general, and the Sudanese in particular, have many invaluable lessons to impart to their brethren in the west about true community. But they will not see development that really benefits them unless they continue in complete dependence on Jesus, not using Him as a means of identity to get worldly benefits but knowing Him as the One they want to emulate in their everyday lives. I believe the same goes for any other marginalized people group, such as many of the Native American communities. A lot of the strongholds such as alcoholism, domestic violence, and so on in these areas will remain imbedded unless the people, in prayers free of any cultural bias, take the focus off themselves and open their hearts and minds to the Creator's healing and reconciliation offered through Jesus. Jesus is at the heart of true community.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes with great wisdom in his simple, brilliantly reflected work on Life Together: "The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community." I love this--it is so deeply true and yet so profoundly simple. Truth is simple. It's just seeking to live in it as flawed humans is where it gets complicated. This is why believers in Christ are more accurately called disciples, those who follow after Him who is Truth and Righteousness. This leads to community development where we know God is the Author and Sustainer.

p.s. I don't claim to be any kind of expert on what I just wrote, but am seeking to live it everyday and trusting God to break down strongholds. I welcome any thoughts or criticisms. I plan on myself doing further study on Bonhoeffer's work, as well as just getting back to where God has called me to implement these truths. My point should be that we are ALL marginalized peoples in need of a deepening dependence and knowledge of Jesus to move forward with purpose.

ON A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT NOTE (yet could still be applied to the topic of development)... I came across this fantastic article on a new motorcycle law that came into Nigeria New Year's Day entitled 'Nigeria bikers' vegetable helmets'--
Many in the north have been indicted for wearing calabashes (dried-out pumpkins) to pass as helmets. What I found so interesting is just how pervasive the fatalistic belief is in juju, the local term for witchcraft. I would love to hear your thoughts........

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Prayer Request for Pioneering a Christian Training Center/School in South Sudan, Unity State

Teaching on Sin, Forgiveness and Reconciliation among other topics during a seminar in the Nuer village of Ruoth Nyibol near Bentiu back in 2006

Me with some of my Bentiu brothers (many of them I met in other parts of the country and then we got together during our scouting trip to Bentiu and greater Unity State), March 2006

Salaam takuun naskulu ta kanisa.... (Is it peace with you all people of the Church?)
I realize it has been awhile since I last updated this blog, but I have been getting into the mold of American working life. As I said before, I am really grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to work in this time, though I don't plan on going on much longer as my lovely fiancee will be arriving this weekend. Excitement does not begin to describe how I feel about this, and I am really looking forward to the relaxing time spent with family and taking Thandeka to all the places of my youth.

I wanted to make it known to everyone a hopeful new development in the geographically centralized area I have been sharing about in my long-term vision for Sudan. That is, Bentiu, Western Upper Nile Province (though now Unity State) in the northern part of the roughly demarcated South Sudan. This predominantly Nuer (the second largest tribe in South Sudan) area is not only strategically politically and economically for the nation as a whole (which has consequently put its inhabitants in much danger with fighting over oil reservoirs, etc.), but also for the Lord's Kingdom of internal transformation going forth into everyday society. The people here are very churched since missionaries first went in the early 20th century, though discipleship is a nearly unknown concept, as I found out back in 2006 when myself and two Sudanese brothers went on a YWAM scouting trip down the river Nile for six (6) full days from Juba, then hiked (and swam) overland for a full day, and finally came into Bentiu by catching a 3- hour ride with a UN worker. Of course, the town itself is easily accessible with its airstrip, but we were a little tight on cash at that time, and part of the purpose of our journey was to: (1) Travel (and suffer) as the locals do, and (2) meet with County Commissioners and church leaders along the way to share about what YWAM does and put on a few short seminars. Overall, a very trying but great journey, and on our way out we were able to catch a ride with an NPA food aid plane with no seats, saving us a good number of days.

Now, one of those brothers who is actually from a village near to Bentiu, but fled the area as a young boy back in the early 1980s when the Northern Islamic government (GOS) was daily dropping bombs and sending in slave raiding parties. He fled to neighboring Ethiopia until the Communist regime there changed hands in 1991, whereby he and his fellow "Lost Boys" were forced to flee again, back across crocodile-infested waters and eventually finding refuge in the northern Kenya refugee camp, Kakuma. As I shared in my email update, this Nuer brother, William Keah Chuong, was one that I discipled and learned from when I staffed at the Yei Sudan YWAM base in 2005-06. Since then he has been studying medicine in Kenya and Uganda, and has now just contacted me to say that he is back in Bentiu where he and his new wife are planning to plant a YWAM base. Now, I have been in touch with him (in fact this is the brother that was supposed to go along with our team up to Malakal, which is about a day's journey east of Bentiu by river, but backed out because his cousin was shot dead in Juba) and I have shared about my heart to start a training center that begins in Bentiu area and sends out Sudanese missionaries to surrounding communities and eventually nations, but I never realized his heart was in this as well. Obviously it is though, since he is now in the process of acquiring land for the site. Here are some of the numbers, though the borehole (well) cost seems a bit steep:
1. Boreholes for the base to be drilled and preped
2. Money to secure the full payment which amount to 4500$/borehole and 7500$ land complete payment and 2500$ for children ministry tukuls and the kitchen.

(Tukuls are a Sudanese generic term for the mud huts most sleep in, known as dwil in Nuer)

William emphasized to me the increasing number of street children/orphans coming out of war-shattered homes in the town, and express how crucial it is to have a ministry geared specifically towards them. There is another friend of mine that does just that and is also based in Bentiu, so I am putting them in touch to be able to hear each other's ideas and learn about the best way to address the felt as well as unfelt needs of this easily corrupted generation.

I have shared about this area and pioneering a base here, with the possibility of local chiefs and one MP friend from Khartoum being able to give us land through the government, but that was in a village some distance from the rapidly growing town of Bentiu (meaning "place of regret" in the local Nuer--will need to do some serious spiritual mapping with that name, and get to the source of some strongholds). Hence, the need to buy land from the local authorities partitioning it off. But please join me in prayer for this vision and the beginning of its physical infrastructure. I will be checking into how I can be sending some of my support money up to William once I find out more about where he is at in the process, knowing full well that these things take LONG in Africa in general, and particularly in the New Sudan. As they so often say in the local Arabic... "Bukura, inshallah" (Tomorrow, God willing). In other words, tomorrow maybe something will happen, most likely not until badbukura (day after tomorrow:)

Yet, in the spirit of new things in Christ Jesus, this is something Thandeka and I will be praying into and see how best to be commissioned off from our base in Cape Town to help pioneer a work with or nearby to William and his wife.

Shukran biAlla (thanks be to God)

Salaam naskulu ta kanisa.... I realize it has been awhile since I last updated this blog, but I have been getting into the mold of American working life. As I said before, I am really grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to work in this time, though I don't plan on going on much longer as my lovely fiancee will be arriving this weekend. Excitement does not begin to describe how I feel about this, and I am really looking forward to the relaxing time spent with family and taking Thandeka to all the places of my youth.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back "Home" and Enjoying the Time....


God has been so good to me (after all His abundant grace is available to all at any time) since arriving back on the West (and, of course, the best) Coast safely with the parents. It was amazing to see the unique beauty of Yellowstone for the first time (I will have to post some photos of the geothermal pools) as well as seeing some old college friends along the way.

I had been asking God for work at least in this time before Thandeka arrives in November, and He has answered by way of Sukadem Construction based in the Lummi Reservation where I am helping to clear land for a big development going in. It feels so good to be working hard, earning money for lobola, and coming back to rest after a full day. I always cherish the opportunity to enter into the lives of co-workers in whatever way God opens up in His great wisdom.

That all said, I very much miss Africa and isimomo sami ('my beautiful girl' in Zulu) Thandeka. Yet, I am so grateful for this time apart once more, and believe God has ordained it as a wilderness time for me to learn more deeply what it means to depend on Him alone for my everyday purpose and reason for getting up and moving forward. I am excited for all the new things He will speak into my heart and mind in this season of reflection and sharing what is already in my heart for community development work in South Sudan. Lastly, I am excited about the new things God is doing in my home church in Bellingham, asking God what my role is in this time.

Well, that's all for now (if any of you do keep up with my adventures via this blog), and I hope next time I shall be led to share some deeper truths God is showing me, if He so wills it. Blessings to all........Nkhulunkhulu ubusise

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Leaving Tomorrow Morning Bright & Early for X-Country Trip w/the Rents

Thandeka and I fresh after our return from respective outreaches in Sudan and N. Uganda back in March: GOOD NEWS!!!!! I hardly believe it, but God is able and has done it through your prayers--Thandeka, from her first interview with the US Consulate, has already been approved to get her Visa to the states. So, now, we are looking for a semi-afforable flight for mid-November, and planning for our time together to be filled with a formal Engagement Party of sorts and some American pre-marital counseling before heading back to South Africa together next year. Mungu ni mwananifu... (God is faithful!)

Myself with my blessed parents enjoying time with extended family in Ocean City, Maryland (Note the 21ft-kayak we shall haul back across our beautiful nation)

An earlier family picture with baby Emma, my sister, Kristin, and brother-in-law, Jayme

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Niece Emma Lynn, 9 months old

I film as Emma tries a lemon and goes for more... VERY FUNNY

Friday, August 1, 2008

YWAM Drakensberg Property (Thandi playing with the family who is pioneering the base) & More of the Drakensberg Mountains

Oh, and she didn't Yes, but "Of course I will"...

The mood drastically changed with the ring now on her finger (though it was a struggle to get on her finger, swollen from the crisp mountain air), the clouds opened up and the sun shone down on us both:)

If you look closely you can see the path winding through the thick grass to the rocks where I proposed not quite halfway was a lovely day in the shadow of Champagne Castle (the mesa-like peak and, further south, Mafadi Peak, South Africa's highest

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yes, it is true, I am engaged...God is good...

Next to the only blossoming pink flowers in the whole Drakensberg (meaning 'Dragon Mountains' in Afrikaans, and also called Ukhahlamba in the local Zulu language roughly meaning 'Battlement of Spears') during this bleak winter on the highveldt, I popped the big question--actually I had to ask twice because she was laughing from surprise the first time.
But, anyhow, it is done and now only remains for talks about the lobola (brideprice) next year before the wedding can take place. We have begun the process of trying to get her US Visa for Thandi to visit my family and see where I come from before we head back to South Africa together and join back up with YWAM Muizenberg.

Some Pics of Daily Life Around Maputo, Mozambique

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Time of Prayer & Reflection in Preparation for Future Ministry

Our base took part in a very prophetic international prayer/fasting day on May 8th about being apart of the Fourth Wave of Missions. This wave is to cover much more ground than the previous three since the founding of modern missions with William Carey in 1796 by involving all nations—God’s people being sent from all nations to all nations.
I found myself reflecting as I praised God for His sovereign redemption plan among the nations that in order for me to consistently walk in awareness of the Spirit and the fear of the Lord, I need to stir in myself the spirit of prayer for initiations greater than myself. This is what carries me through each week with an eternal perspective, and I found God telling me I am not engaging in these fruitful times with Him nearly enough for what He wants me to be apart of.

The Three Waves of Missions thus far:
1) 1796 – William Carey, “the father of modern missions”, went to the fringes/coasts of unreached lands
2) 1885 – Hudson Taylor, of China Interior Mission, reached the interior of unreached lands
3) 1974 – Lausanne Covenant, where unreached peoples were quantified and goals set to reach all

And here is the gist of the 4th:
4) 2000 – “From the nations to the nations” with a focus on youth being raised up in all nations of the world, rich and poor, to be ministers of Christ’s hope and transformation; also emphasis on UNITY of the Body through such initiatives as Call2All
Call2All in Africa will have its first major campaign in Uganda, “the pearl of Africa” as Sir Winston Churchill coined it. It will focus on what God wants to do IN Africa & what God wants to do FROM Africa
-the streams of Prayer and Missions, formerly in their own domains within the Body, are now flowing as one mighty river, with prayer as the furnace to move with the Holy Spirit in fulfilling our Lord’s Great Commission
-It is only through continued steadfast prayer that we will go to the nations, and others will receive the nations in the spirit of Christ Jesus

The YWAM Initiative Call2All is at the centre of this 4th wave, working together with church leaders and youth from around the world. Read more at Their goals are:
Form a cohesive network to work in synergy to reach the unreached and work towards completing the Great Commission
Help ministers around the world cross-pollinate and share best methods and practices with each other, especially as regards Africa.
To use a common global map to identify the greatest needs and win the least reached.
To prayerfully commit to goals in evangelism, church planting, reaching the unreached (or marginalized/neglected people groups), sending oral Bible teams and adopting omega zones [Omega Zone is a division made according to an area of the world which is unreached; not a geographic country but a division of some of the lease reached countries.]
Those reflections were back in May, and now, just last Saturday in Pretoria (the administrative capital of South Africa), I just attended a unique conference centered on the South African church’s involvement in Sudan with the theme “Building God’s Kingdom together in Sudan”. I even had a chance to go in front of these other organizations and share about the recent church planting mission I led to Malakal in Upper Nile State and encouraged us all to partner for true development in this nation of great promise. It was really great to network with some already very involved in South Sudan and pray together for strategies in the future.
My Vision:
The heart of the ministry/vision in Sudan is training up leaders to train others in God's heart for the nations from a center in Sudan that can be partnered with the YWAM Muizenberg base I have been involved with in Cape Town, South Africa. Such teaching will really bring transformation in a country where tribalism is intensifying with the south's newfound political freedoms and lack of discipleship in how best to utilize their resources for long-term growth and sustainability. Before returning to work in South Sudan I am also praying about doing a short-term Community Development training at the beginning of next year, which I will post you on as the time draws nearer and I know more about it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Prayer Requests for Zimbabwe

As time draws near to depart for the beautiful land and people of Zimbabwe, I admittedly have felt an increasing sense of uneasiness about a smooth entry into this nation of political turmoil and fear. Any officials under Mugabe will be very suspicious of me being a foreign journalist at this crucial time before the final election runoff where Mugabe will do everything he can to keep shameful information from leaking out to the international community. Because of this I have requested the brother I am visiting me to write an official looking letter of invitation to stay with his family and work with the community. Thank you all for prayers for safety and God’s favor, but even more that I may be a vessel for God’s encouragement to come and bring the people great hope and eternal perspective in the midst of suffering. In addition, please pray for my connection in Bulawayo on the way to Mutare. I have been advised by leadership here not to do any ministry explicitly with the YWAM base there because of the authorities shutting down many NGOs with international connections. Pray for that base to continue on in the same perseverance our Lord exemplified on his journey to the cross for a much greater purpose than His own life.
Our Lord Jesus still has a great call upon the nation and people of Zimbabwe, the former "bread basket of Africa". I look forward to sharing the results of the trip with you when I return to Jo'burg around 4-5 July (Pray also for that return and possible stop at World Vision base at border to check on projects my home church are investing in for the Kingdom)

Picture at bottom: A very recent, yet nearly expired Zimbabwe fifty million dollar bill (the rate is so fickle that I cannot find any way to find out how much that is in USD; not much though) I acquired from a Shona brother here at the base: issued in April 2008 and expiring on June 30, 2008

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hiking Beautiful Table Mountain (on one of those rare sunny days)

A view of Lion's Head and the cable car from the top. Not exactly my favorite hike because of the sheer number of tourists and close proximity to Cape Town, but still gorgeous with some of the world's most unique vegetation--known as the Fynbos as a collective, it is the world's smallest (endemic to the Western Cape) and arguably richest of the six floral kingdoms.

Trying to find the way up, but also just enjoying getting out of the classroom

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Visiting Refugees in Cape Town church

Top: Two brothers (not by blood) originally from Malawi and DRC(Congo) displaced from their new lives with dreams for a better future seemingly shattered
Bottom: Thomas, a Burundian who has been in exile since the age of 1 in various African countries, and I discussing in the tent set up by a local church of Cape Town in response to the recent outbreak of violence towards African refugees in South Africa

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Left: Thandeka and yours truly at the YWAM Muizenberg base, going out for my birthday last month
Some YWAMers going to a SIM missions video presentation of "God Grew Tired of Us" about the lives of some of the Sudanese Lost Boys who settled in America and are now seeking to help rebuild their nation; the Sudanese brother to my left, Jason, is attending a local Bible College in Muizenberg and we meet regularly to pray for God's will to be done in Sudan

Trip to Zimbabwe & Prayer Report on Xenophobia

Sawubona abantu bonke (I see all of you OR Hello everybody),

Wow, I can’t believe June is already here. But that is the way life seems to go when you are in the right place and doing what God has called you to in a particular season. I apologize and warn you in advance that this update may be a bit lengthy because I have been writing you for the past two weeks.
I know it may sound cliché, but I am discovering just how much of a privilege I have to study the Word of God freely and intensely in these three months back in South Africa. The three month Biblical Studies Core Course (SBS) began in early April and will finish on June 27th. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it all the way to the end since I already made plans to visit a brother in eastern Zimbabwe on June 20th. So I am now working overtime to try and get all the assigned books done beforehand, including the hefty Deuteronomy (which should be interesting). I have also had the incredible privilege to study the word alongside my girlfriend, a South African Zulu named Thandeka, who I met last year as we both were on staff, her the DTS and myself the Church Planting course. So I have also included a picture of her, and hope to share more with you later about how our visions line up.

I thank God for confirming in my heart and mind that this is a crucial school to be apart of to be able to help introduce to South Sudan, where there is such great need to be guided by truth as they seek the way ahead for themselves and their nation. I believe this is more what Sudan, being a nation starting at the base foundation level, needs right now to develop aright and be able to know how to usher in God’s Kingdom in every sphere of society as they come into their own with continued peace and stability. This is not to say that my involvement in the Church Planting school was a waste, for I learned many valuable things about cross-cultural leadership, particularly in the latter three months on outreach, but that I don’t see it fitting into the growth of the church of Sudan into full maturity at this point in its history. Church leaders grow immediately suspicious when you tell them you are apart of a church planting school, and with good reason. They have been taught by missionaries more than anything to beware of false doctrines seeping into the Body of Christ in their community, and are more interested at building their own congregations. On the other hand, I do believe church planting has a place in every nation at all times because the gospel of Christ must go out. I guess what I am saying is that I don’t sense the call to bring in teams of foreigners to plant the churches, but work alongside and train up those ministers from within to plant these churches among the unreached. I have discussed with my school leader, who has become a very unique and dear friend of mine, and still very much intend to keep in touch with him as he looks to develop the training here with a focus for neighboring Mozambique over the next few years.

Immediately after the school ends, even before graduation, I will head for a short outreach to Zimbabwe to visit a past student named Believe (who I wrote about before our outreach to Sudan) and observe some of the small-scale farming schemes he is implementing near the eastern city of Mutare (to possibly help introduce in central Sudan). Please pray for my safe arrival across the border, for no problems getting the tourist Visa. I will be crossing into Zim on a night bus on June 21st, and hope to be there a couple weeks before heading back to South Africa to fly out back to the states for some months in August. The world, and South Africa in particular, is still waiting anxiously for the official results of the recent elections that everyone predicted would be controversial and drawn-out, and has proven to be.
The final election run-off is set for June 27th, and let us join for prayer in that going smoothly with minimal corrupt police interference/beatings so that the people may truly be able to choose their leadership for a better future. The Zimbabweans I have come to know have an incredible spirit in the midst of so much suffering at the hands of their negligent government, and we just need to pray they don’t lose hope in such a time as this, but know the God of redemption is still working in their midst. I also hope to stop by the border town of Beitbridge on the way back, where my home church, Birchwood Presbyterian, has a number of children they are supporting through World Vision and plans to help with a water project.

My Zim brother has also asked me to help pioneer a sports ministry with the youth, so I am looking to secure some more soccer balls and maybe even a basketball before departing. It has been great to keep up my skills and love for the game here in Muizenberg, where I play with a group of guys from various African countries (primarily DRC and Angola) every Mon. and Wed. I tell you, I get really disappointed if I have to miss one of these small-side sessions. I love the brotherhood that develops among athletes that train hard to develop their skills, and it is exciting to see the relationships that form out of just getting together to take a break from the daily grind. I shall be leaving Cape Town on June 20th which just happens to be World Refugee Day, a day I have come to celebrate every year since being in Africa because of all the lives of refugees God has brought me into. Here in Cape Town you can always find a great number of Zimbabwean refugees that have fled the economic, and now more political, depravity of their once thriving nation. They have to come all the way to Cape Town because it is only this Home Affairs office that deals with foreign ID cards for them to find work to support their families. I have had the opportunity with my school to go a few times to bring food to where these guys put up camp near the loading docks of Table Bay, and it is alarming just how hungry these people are. The Zimbabwean YWAMer from our base who heads up the ministry always has to make sure to walk to where the women are sitting under concrete shelters, or the ravenous men will inhale all the food. Sometimes you find the women telling you they haven’t eaten for a week. Which brings me to my next, and final, subject (I promise you).

The past couple weeks has seen tensions rise all across South Africa’s townships where several different African nations are represented. Many of you should have seen in the news by now the ‘xenophobia’ that has swept across the urban areas of the entire country like a plague of locusts. Refugees I have talked to (one who saw his own neighbor killed) who have been in foreign nations their entire lives say they have never seen anything like this. While on the surface it appears this is simply the poorest of the poor releasing all their anger and frustration over the years, where there are very tight living quarters and scare jobs available, it is important to get to the root of why so many Africans immigrate to this economic powerhouse in the region. It always seems to come back to poor leadership and distribution of natural resources in their home countries. Somalia, for a very stark example, has been without an effective central government since 1991 when the President was in fact the lead warlord among many and was taken out of power. Control for the government has been fought over between the clans of Somalis since then. Currently, the youth military wing, al-Shabab (meaning literally “the youth” in Arabic), has been causing all kinds of insecurity and UN reports that an average of 20,000 people are fleeing the capital Mogadishu every month. The internationally recognized interim President still cannot take the Parliament seat in the capital because of the repeated attempts on his life by Muslim extremists seeking to build the greater Somalia, including eastern Ethiopia, Northeastern Kenya, and Djbouti, by force.

Several of the African foreigners are now being helped by their governments back to their countries of residence, but this is not possible for Zimbabweans (among others) because of the political and economic turmoil their nation remains in. I had the chance last week to drive some students from our base to go and encourage some of these displaced foreigners where they have taken refuge in a megachurch of sorts called His People. They have responded to this crisis in an incredible way, setting up two large tents to house the men on one side of the church, and the women’s quarters on the other side (which I didn’t see). I have attached a few photos with some of the guys I had a chance to listen to and pray for, and also practice my Swahili with since most were from Burundi and eastern Congo. It’s hard to put into words what you hear from these people’s stories, but I can tell you it makes you want to be a journalist to get across all the stories to the world. Yet, at the same time, how much of a difference would that really make because of the sheer number of them, each with their own unique journeys of suffering? I realized the supreme importance of moving in simple love that God has shown to us, and being patient for when it is our place to give it out. One particular brother from Burundi named Thomas, who had been elected as a leader to represent Burundians when he arrived at the camp (and has been a refugee in various countries since the age of 1), asked me how he can encourage all these other brothers if he is not receiving encouragement himself. It was a plea for me to give him any kind of spiritual food that would nourish him to carry out his task to God’s glory. We had a wonderful talk together, lying on some mattresses and speaking some Kiswahili, and ended up both praying for one another in the end. I seriously didn’t want to leave, but had to get the others back to the base (it was 11pm). I hope to go back again, though am praying the temporary refuge will not have to be there for too long.

The big scare for South Africa now is the very real possibility that these temporary, makeshift shelters for the fleeing foreigners will become permanent segregated settlements sponsored by the UNHCR (IDP camps, if you will, like we see in Northern Uganda), thus reverting back to the apartheid of old. Any new foreigners then entering the country after this wave of violence settles down would settle in these camps, segregated from the native Africans. The truth is, as many South African friends grudgingly tell me, apartheid has not altogether vanished but is still very much apart of South African society and inherent in the people’s psyche. While Johannesburg has been most heavily affected w/ about 50 deaths, (and the parts of the city where foreigners are the majority native South Africans still fear to go), the several townships scattered around the Cape Flats have also been affected.
We have been praying a lot as a base and in our school against this wave of violence and hatred, but can see there is really need of a long-term solution. Seems like now there will be segregation of refugee populations around South Africa with the talk of UNHCR coming in to help the displaced. I know many here in Cape Town have too much fear to go back to their home communities, even though the locals are giving them their possessions back. Some have seen their friend’s eyes cut out or limbs hacked off or burned alive. I ask you to join this nation in prayer for a long-term solution to this outbreak, and also for the Lord to comfort and minister to the many displaced foreigners (literally tens of thousands). Thank you all for remaining strong in prayer and may the God of Creation and all nations continue to reveal His unfathomable character to you in your own place of ministry.

For His glory,