It has been over 10 years since the last time that I visited the continent of Africa. The trip to Africa before was in 2004 to Kenya, it was the first time I had experienced kids on the street sniffing glue in order to stop the hunger pains. This trip to South Africa had a main purpose of encouraging the three teams of ORU students that were in Johannesburg & Cape Town. The contact that picked me up from the airport was a person I had traveled to Panama with on a team in 2007, and it was a unique opportunity to see someone I had been on missions with before that was still pursuing the God given dream that was inside.
The first team we visited was building relationships with people in the community of Diepsloot, which is a township outside of Johannesburg.
The people that live here are mostly immigrants from other nations across Africa that have traveled here to look for work and peace from civil wars. The community is built with mostly tin metal and cement or wood. Small makeshift shacks make up most of the residences, with alcohol, cigarets, & trash being the most prevalent items in sight.
Our next stop was in Vanderbijlpark, S.A. which is an hours drive South of Johannesburg where another team was doing seminars at public high schools in the city. We got to be with this team for a few days and encourage the leaders and the work that they were doing, I got to speak shortly at one of the height school assemblies, and I got to pray for a tenth grader who had lost his mother two weeks before.
To finish the trip we flew to Cape Town, which may be one of the most beautiful places that I’ve visited. We got to watch the sunset over the ocean on the first night.
The next day we visited a pre school. The kids at this school were from rough neighborhoods, and families that struggled to survive in the city. We were able to bring love and encouragement to the kids at the preschool. And play games with them during their recess in a soccer field.
Overall it was an incredible experience for me, to see the teams and be a small part of what they were doing. God is so good, and he is so faithful in the way that he allows us to grow and continue to be an impact in the world. It was a completely different role for me in missions, not being on a team, not focusing on ministering to the people of South Africa, as I was focused on encouraging the team and helping the leaders to see that they were doing an amazing job of leading their teams. I was blessed by the opportunity to be in South Africa, and to see missions and Jesus in a new way.
On the last day of the trip we got to go to a park where there were two lighthouses. The first we saw looked incredible. It was high on top of a mountain overlooking the ocean. But as the sign read, it was too high and clouds or fog covered the light, causing it to not fulfill its purpose during some of the most crucial moments of a ships journey.
The new lighthouse is below the cloud line and better served its purpose, even though many people cannot even see it from the land because it is below the cliff of the mountain.
This just showed me again the incredible strength of being in the right place to fulfill your purpose.