A New Worldview
Today, September 1st was the first day of spring and it was also the day it finally hit…I am in South Africa…and I am staying here for 3 months. Yesterday as we finished orientation, I was looking forward to what was next, and how this knowledge had prepared me for going out into the community, but I’ll be very honest…I was not prepared for what I was about to see or experience.
We started today bright and early and after breakfast we were off in a trail of 3 land rovers to Eboni (not correct spelling) church Community center, located in the town of Tembisa (not correct spelling), right outside of Johannesburg. As we drove further and further into this town, I was in complete culture shock and for a moment I couldn’t help but cry. I can’t unsee the things that I have seen and I will never forget this community. Driving down the road, there were people selling food from huts made out of large sticks and tarps to make ends meat due to unemployment. Trash and garbage littered the streets. People walking everywhere, some making concrete bricks on the side of the road to sell, or offering different services to help make money.
Women carrying their children on their back. Shacks and squatter homes crammed one next to the other made out of sheet metal, tarps, and basically whatever they can find to make four walls and a door to enter. Their local salon, restaurants, markets, car washes, etc., all shack style residences. The surgical center is a small home with large fences guarding it and it’s not much. What we would consider to be suburban style homes are surrounded by tall walls, topped with barbed wire, electrical fences, or broken glass bottles to help keep people from breaking in.
From my point of view, “Well, I guess it’s nice to have such a secure home,” as I tried to find the bright side of things. My driver, “Yes…if you like living in a prison. We keep our homes safe because if they can’t break into your home then they will break into your neighbors home…In these squatter communities they have an understanding of whose shack is whose, but crime is still rampant all throughout South Africa.”
I was in awe as he continued telling us more and more as we ventured deeper and deeper into the community…how a father along with the rest of the community will stone his son if he were to steal from him. Women are ashamed to have a baby girl as their husband will divorce them if they can’t produce a son to carry the line and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s about 1% of this culture’s world view. I could go on and on and on for paragraphs and pages that will seem to have no end of what this one single day has brought…what this worldview and cross cultural training has opened my eyes to, but at the end of the day I don’t know if I would actually be able to do it justice.
As we began studying this culture and are just beginning to view it for ourselves the poverty that many are experiencing isn’t just financial. It’s a mindset. When you are poor, to many we would think that we are just lacking money or finances, but in this culture…they believe they are cursed. What has been passed down to them has been passed down and life will never get better. It’s a poverty of hope. A poverty of lost relationships, brokenness, and a poverty of being able to think about their potential or the fact that they do have a future.
To them…What is, is what will be.
So how do we change this? How to we become effective? How do we help?
Don’t get me wrong it’s always nice to build a well or taps for the community, or even a community center but many of the physical things we do with our western mindset, aren’t actually sustainable for the community. The community center becomes abandoned, the soccer fields left for ruin, and the wells left as their form of community revolved around the river. So, instead…sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is plant a seed and begin the journey of changing a world view and a culturally defined mindset
Africa is the richest continent in resources but is still one of the poorest continents.
It may seem to simple or as if it won’t do much, but by planting a seed, it can leave more of an impact than digging a well. As Hein once told us, “You can count a seed in a mango but you can’t count the mangos in a seed.” I may never see the amount of fruit that is produce from the seeds God sows while I am here by our team, but that is not the purpose. The purpose is to simply plant and allow God to do the rest.
Today’s seed…we worked at the church community center that is opening a ministry for individuals with disabilities to have the ability to study and learn. We cleaned the chairs they will sit in, the desks they will sit at, painted the gates that will keep the center safe.
We partnered with Church without Walls and prepared 1000 bags of food and one bag can feel 6-8 adults or 8-10 children. I could barely speak to those I worked with, but we still made conversation. Our common ground…dancing and singing to music we all knew as we filled each bag. I met a wonderful lady named Anna Maree who helped lead the ministry for 12 years. I walked into these church walls and was reminded of my home church, Wellspring. The smell, the atmosphere, the building. Although the people walking in weren’t anyone that I knew, I saw a similar look on their faces…they were walking into their home.
I don’t know what God has in store next or what else is coming my way, but I don’t need to. For now I will live moment by moment. I will be grateful for how blessed I truly am and as I lay my head on my pillow tonight, I do it with a full heart, an open mind, and a heart that is forever changed.
Onto the next adventure,