The Father's Heart for Africa

Recently an article from one South Africa's largest Christian magazines published this article about Floyd and Sally and their journey to Cape Town:

People Today Article

When I first learned that Floyd McClung, author of the hugely popular The Father Heart of God, now lives in Cape Town with his wife, Sally, I was admittedly pretty intrigued about the prospects of meeting him in person. I was given his book to read when I was a young Christian, and remember how powerful it was in communicating the personal, parenting aspects of God. And when I did get to meet Floyd a few weeks ago, I encountered a man whose heart seems to mirror his physical staturehe's a big guy with an equally big heart for the things of God. We sat outdoors in the shade of a tree in what Floyd calls "his office" a quaint farm-style restaurant not far from where he and Sally are currently living in picturesque Kommetjie. He's already on friendly terms with the staffhe casually informed our waitron that he and Sally are praying for her. She was grateful and just a little perplexed at the same time I guess few patrons divulge this kind of information after a meal. Floyd is easy to talk tohe listens intently to each question, and answers with thoughtful, insightful comments infused with all sorts of anecdotes about his life and experiences of God's work. When he wrote The Father Heart of God in the 80s, he and his young family were living in Amsterdam, Holland, in what is known as the red-light district, where drugs and prostitution are traded as openly as burgers and fries in a fast-food outlet. So I was immediately interested to learn why he and Sally have decided to make Cape Town their home base for ministry after a lifetime of travelling the world.

Heartbeat for Humanity

Floyd and his family moved to Amsterdam in order to care for and help some of the young people who struggle in lifestyles they hate. In doing so, he learned a great deal about suffering and hardship, and the tragedies of those growing up in some of the most dysfunctional families. The Father Heart of God has many shocking anecdotes. It tells, for instance, of a young man who claimed that the happiest day of his life was when he heard that his parents had both been killed in an accident. Or the girl who wished she was dead because her mother kept comparing her negatively to her dead sister. Floyd takes his readers to what he calls "the wounded heart of man": the childhood abuse and neglect that causes so many people to embark on lives of drugs or prostitution, full of bitterness and anger. And then he leads readers to the God whom the Bible describes as a loving parent, helping those who have grown up with a negative view of God because of their own hurtful childhood to embrace the perfect Father. Now here he sits before me, aged 61, and still talking about this loving God whom he believes has a spectacular destiny for Africa. "Did you know that 52 percent of all missionaries in the world today are people of colour?" he asks me. I didn't know that. "Brazil and Korea are the second and third biggest missionary-sending countries in the world," he goes on between mouthfuls of salad, "so the West has ceased to be the major force of missions in the world. I really believe that the centre of spiritual gravity, so to speak, has moved from the West to the Southern Hemisphere. So we're excited to be in the place where the Spirit is moving." As you can tell, Floyd is a visionary, a dreamer, in his own words. Sally (58), on the other hand, is the practical, down-toearth one in this marriage team. "Sally has become my counsellor. She's always asking me about my latest five visions and how I think I'm going to implement them, so I've come to believe that if I can get one of my dreams past her, it's definitely of God," he says laughing.

The Pull of Gravity

"After living in Afghanistan and Holland for more than 20 years, Sally and I discovered that we are most fruitful in doing three things: making disciples, training leaders and planting churches," Floyd explains. "We love serving God. We never cease to be amazed that God uses us. As a 'mother and father' in the Lord, we feel we are entering the best years of our lives." It hasn't been easy for Floyd and Sally to leave their two grown children and two grandchildren in the States, but if this is the final chapter in their lives, they believe it will be spent serving God here in sunny South Africa. "It's a great country with such rich diversity," Floyd says, "which is the way God intended it, I believe. Every culture has something of God's nature deposited in it... so every culture has a contribution to make to the world.

But in what other country in the world can you find such incredible diversity as we find in SA?" So they have come to South Africa primarily to help us discover our gifts and passions and utilise them to spread the worship of Jesus where He is least known. "We have gone to the hard places of the earth to tell people about Jesus, and now we are called to ask others to do the same. And when they do, we promise not to forget them when they get there!" adds Floyd.

God's Heart for All Nations

They have already taken the early steps toward fulfilling their vision: a training and outreach community in Cape Town that will impact Africa from Cape Town to Cairo. "Our vision is for a multicultural community that exemplifies the kingdom of God and brings heaven a little closer to earth. Our vision is for people of all colours and capabilities to live and learn together. We dream about business people sharing their knowledge and skills, and the poor sharing their amazing capacity for simplicity and community." This American missionary, who has worked among some of the most broken and impoverished people on the globe, has not come to Africa with an arrogant imperialism clothed in religion. "There are 800 million people in Africa, most of whom suffer every day from poverty, war, injustice and preventable diseases," Floyd tells me. "6,500 people die every single day from malaria and other causes. That is the equivalent of a worldwide disaster every month! "Because of the huge needs of Africa, we believe the gospel must be given with two hands: one hand giving practical hope in the form of farming, microenterprise and medical care and with the other hand sharing the good news that Jesus is the son of God who died for the sins of the whole world," Floyd states. "There are hundreds of people groups in Africa that have not been reached with the good news of God's love. Poverty, corruption, preventable diseases and famine have turned whole countries in Africa to ruin. 'Invisible' children are abducted and turned into slaves to fight for greedy warlords in Uganda and the Sudan, and child-heads of households are forced to care for their siblings in Malawi, Zambia and other nations in Southern Africa. We are stirred to face these challenges head-on with faith in God's goodness and obedience to His commands." When I listen to these words, I'm encouraged that this is a man who will most likely not give up when the going gets tough. He'll do what every well-equipped missionary is trained to dohumbly become part of the land God has called him to, befriend its peoples, take time to truly understand its needs, and doggedly persevere against all odds to fulfill God's calling on his life.

Making Dreams Come True

This is not to say that Floyd and Sally, despite the wisdom of their years, believe they have all the answers to Africa's complexities. I was struck by how much Floyd is aware of our dark historyit may have a lot to do with the fact that he's visited the country regularly since the 70s. Yet I was equally impressed with how open he is to listening to our stories and expanding his knowledge. We discussed the perception, conveyed by some corners of the media and countless dinner conversations, that whites are the primary victims of crime. It's actually a mis perception, as white people only account for 1/33 murder victims. Your best chance of being a murder victim is if you're black, male and young. Floyd is keenly aware of our social issues, yet encouragingly optimistic. "The key for transformation in Africa is based on friendship between the various races," he says. "We believe God has a big dream for Africa, but we also believe He builds His church one life, one family and one community at a time, on the foundations of holistic spirituality, apostolic leadership, incarnational mission and simple church life. We dream big dreams for Africa, but we have learned that to do mission well, we must 'build small'. The maturity and effectiveness of any movement that has lasting impact can be measured by how effective it is in fostering a culture of small discipleship groups that effectively function as church for the people." The challenge with every dream is to make it a reality. Floyd, possibly thanks to Sally's pragmatism, knows that the key to an effective mission strategy is that it needs to be 'doable'. This is why they have begun to minister in two townships near their Kommetjie home. "We've tried to go in with a servant heart, to build relationships with people, and not just to do things for people but with people," he tells me. A great example is the relationship they've built with their domestic worker, whom Floyd describes as a born leader who would be a CEO today if she had been afforded the right opportunities of education and training. "Sally is asking how she can help this woman to start her own business and thereby empower her life and that of others and there are countless other relationships to be built in homes and communities all over this country," he concludes. After I wrap up the interview and say goodbye to Floyd, he remains sitting under the same tree to make a few calls from his cell and continue dreaming those big dreams for Africa.