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Hout Bay

Yesterday, we took an afternoon trip to Hout Bay. We primarily wanted to pray over the community (specifically one of the colored neighborhoods) and seek God’s further guidance for freeWord connections within Cape Town. This was a community that had long ago been identified as a possible connection point for freeWord. Actually, if the compelling Malawi opportunities had not come about over these past years, this is the community in which Dieter and Angi would have desired to begin work in Cape Town. I think God is leading back to this place. We trust in God’s timing and direction. We know it is for some reason that He has led on such a roundabout path. We consider that He may very well still have some place for Malawi alongside this work of freeWord. What work of preparation He has been about, we may not soon know. Please, join us in prayer for these neighborhoods in Hout Bay. May a word of truth be spoken here mad find welcome in the hearts of those here. It is a neighborhood that is under an economic burden and sees a deal of crime. May healing come. We are looking to attend Sunday service this weekend in the neighborhoods. May God provide good connections and foundations for further relationship.

The video here shows us driving along the fringes of the neighborhood, trying to find the right road that’d lead us through.

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Arc of the Sun

This trip is the first I have ever been south of the equator. Strangely, the thing I have found most disorienting has been the arc of the sun. Though the sun still traces the sky from east to west, it does so in the north. I have yet to register this naturally. There is still computing to be done when figuring north or figuring south. A touch maddening, really.

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Sunset at Chapmans Peak
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Building in Obedience

Matthew 7:24-25
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”

During our first days in Cape Town, while Dieter and I were considering the task ahead of us (i.e., charting a fresh course for freeWord), an image came into my mind.

It is an image fitting for the development of freeWord in the context of Southern Africa, for the necessary transitions that are upon the fellowship in Minneapolis and beyond, and, I think, for all Christians at all times.

As there may still be lack of understanding (or even misunderstanding) of what precisely freeWord is, allow me to frame it briefly. In short, freeWord might be distilled as that which happens while gathering together around the foundational and transformational Word of God that we might prayerfully live Word-shaped lives engaged in and moved for the mission of God. It is nothing new, really – simply the Spirit-led life together in, under, and on the Word. It looks a lot like the meeting of Church and Kingdom.

This is the picture that came to my mind: Regarding sub-Saharan Africa, though past missionaries have spoken the word of Truth, they have also allowed the building of a “home” unsuitable, in many ways, for the African. There now must come a deconstruction and renovation – the building of a home (ever upon the sure foundation of God’s Word) that might be suitable for the current needs of Africa. 

In the same way, the church and institutions of the West (WMPL included), must be rebuilt for the changing tides of time. The shape and function of our fellowship must be hewn from a vision that might rise to meet the needs surrounding us today.

This life together in Christ is most certainly needed the world ’round. Church bodies, mission agencies, and other institutions have, in obedience to the Word of Christ, built such great and grand structures upon the foundation of Christ, which have indeed throughout time, served as outposts of heaven amidst the heavy gales of a fallen world. These “homes” we’ve built have been a center from which we disperse, engaging the world about us, and as a refuge to which we retreat in times of turmoil. In them and through them, we seek restoration and life.

We now, again, come upon a time when we must reassess these “homes” we’ve built. Though designed properly and well for a certain time, place, and people, the form and function has been found wanting in our changing environs.

Deconstruction. Renovation.

This image has been in my head quite consistently as we traveled South Africa. Blueprints to be drawn up. Groundwork to be laid. The other day over breakfast, I asked Dieter if he had any favorite Bible passages regarding buildings. He mentioned how God is rarely, if ever, concerned about our temporal buildings. In fact, there is quite often talk of the throwing down of such structures. Our God is interested in the dwelling – that He might be among us and that we might be with Him.

1 Peter 2:4-5
Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:5-23
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Andrew Murray, The Spirit of Christ
In the will of God, carried out by man, God finds a Home. God comes down to dwell in the obedience of His people. 

Lord, remind us that listening precedes obedience. Teach us to build. Oh, that You might find us faithful. Dwell in the midst of us. 

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Rugby, Biltong, etc.

I’ve posted a good number of times regarding the spiritual journey we’ve been navigating in recent days. I’ve not done much to give you a glimpse of the culture I’m encountering here in South Africa. Here are a few points of interest that immediately come to mind:

  • Rugby is quite the popular sport. I’d caught a bit here and there prior to this visit. I’ve now watched my first full game and have learned the basics. Always much more enjoyable to watch a sport when you have a grasp of the rules. 
  • Biltong. It’s much like our jerky in the States, though not quite as dry.
  • Braai. An occasion of grilling meat – tasty meat. 
  • “Just now” doesn’t mean right now or immediately. It means after a little while. 
  • Disparity. There is an obvious and extreme disparity apparent most anywhere you look. Economic prosperity and need sit side by side and the lines are racially colored. 
  • The yellow line. When driving, yellow lines run the outside of a lane rather than down the center. It is also expected that you slide to the shoulder, allowing vehicles to overtake you, when they otherwise may not be able to. If another vehicle has accommodated you in such a way, it is proper to flash your hazards in acknowledgment. 
  • Metric … because it just makes good sense.

Ever been to South Africa? What cultural items do you most recall? Anything I should keep an eye out for before leaving?

    The Return Trip

    We have left Kroonstad and are en route to Cape Town. Some days ago, as we were sensing God’s strong guidance toward a turnaround, we were sent the following word from a friend in Malawi:

    1 Corinthians 16:5-9
    I will come to you after I pass through Macedonia — for I will be traveling through Macedonia — and perhaps I will remain with you or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I go. I don’t want to see you now just in passing, for I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord allows. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, because a wide door for effective ministry has opened for me  — yet many oppose me.

    I think I’ve said it before, but it has seemed so evident that God intends our return to Cape Town. Oh, that He might make fruitful the time we will have there.

    It sounds as if Ewald, Bronwyn and Sophie will join friends for a time on the coast prior to their return. We hope to spend more time with them next week. 

    Don’t remember what I last wrote regarding our vehicle. It is still in need of repair. The mechanic in Kroonstad repaired the alternator and found that repairs in the rear differential were also not properly done. We will have the shop in Cape Town make right on this once we return. This means we will be looking for a temp vehicle during our first few days back. We also have yet to sort out accommodation.

    Tonight we stay at River of Peace, a quaint campground near Bloemfontein. Tomorrow, we’ll make leg two of the journey and arrive on Tuesday. We’d considered loading the vehicle on a train, but think it should be able to get us back without great incident. Extra diff oil is on standby. 

    Thank you again for following along with our journey. May this coming week find you well!

    The Turnaround

    Proverbs 16:9
    A man’s heart plans his way,
    But the Lord directs his steps.

    This is a verse that Chuck regularly brought before us during recent meetings in deliberation and discernment of the next steps for freeWord. In recent days, we have indeed found it to ring true in our hearts, minds, and the daily happenings about us.

    Our God is one of wonder and mystery. He resides just as much in the veiled as in the unveiled. His ways are so often beyond us.

    At this point, any productive and fruitful trip into Malawi has being squeezed out by time. The alternator on the vehicle has been repaired, but we’ve been informed that previous repairs to the rear differential have proved insufficient. We hope to limp back to Cape Town and return to the mechanic so that he might make good on his work. The reality is, having no reliable vehicle, we are unable to reach Malawi.

    And, beyond such practical concerns, we are increasingly convinced that God intends a return to Cape Town for the laying of groundwork for freeWord in and from that place.

    We have received a consensus of affirmation that such a course of action seems good and right. Both of our families, along with a few close prayer supporters encourage us toward Cape Town. God is turning us around. I think we aim to depart on Sunday. For what purpose He brought us here to Kroonstad, to see a vehicle broken and Sophie hospitalized, we may never know. I do know this, He has been faithful to care for us amidst the storm. We can only imagine the outcomes had we broken down even 30 more kilometers down the road or in the middle of Zimbabwe. He has cared for Sophie. He has cared for us. We have been welcomed by such a lovely couple. Eddie and Jeane have wholly opened their home and hearts to us strange and weather-beaten travelers. We are so grateful! Through it all, He has proven faithful. We may not know His ways, but we know Him – and we know Him to be faithful.

    Here is an abridged overview of how we intend to occupy our time upon this return to Cape Town:

    • Envisioning the experience of one engaged in the freeWord community.
    • Mapping a course of involvement.
    • Identifying potential gathering places.
    • Identifying potential communities for cross-cultural engagement.
    • Looking at the Prayer League distinctives and how they are outworked through freeWord.
    • Sketching a draft of a freeWord brochure.
    • Preparing a presentation/report for council.

    Already during our time together, we have gathered together a number of thoughts and considerations regarding practical steps for freeWord. Pray that we might find a vehicle and accommodation upon our return to Cape Town. May God guide us as we look to faithfully steward this time and opportunity with which we’ve been graced. May He lead you to steward the same.