In recent weeks we've been encouraged by things that are happening here in South Africa. At the same time, we've also been overwhelmed by the wave of upheaval and violence that has shaken our nation.
Some of the things that have blessed and encouraged us have been taking place in Red Hill (the community that was destroyed by fire in Feb.). Every week there are individuals who are coming to personally know Jesus. There are now 7 small house churches started......most being led by new believers as students from CPx (our church planting school) coach them. Namandla (a former bar owner), David (a well known drunkard in the community who was saved & delivered of his addiction), Shepherd (who was touched by the story of Zacheus), and Archie (captain of the soccer team)........all are new believers and growing in their faith.
Just as we've been rejoicing in these wonderful testimonies of new life, some very distressing events have taken place. They call it "xenophobia." Many of the poor in the nation have turned in violence upon the foreigners, the refugees in our midst, from other African nations. Many have been beaten and killed. Others have lost all their possessions. The spirits of hatred and fear have run rampant through the poor communities.
The events of recent days have been "shocking," to say the least. "Unbelievable" would be more like it. "Heart-breaking" only touches the surface of the emotions we've experienced.
Our workers have helped house and feed the refugees who are, yet again, trying to find security and safety. We've joined with community leaders and pastors in trying to quiet the rising violence. We've supported those who are trying to recover all the possessions that have been stolen.
Through it all, and indeed in facing so many of the needs/problems that we've encountered in South Africa, I find myself feeling helpless, even hopeless. How can we meet such huge needs? How can we see things changed? How can our small efforts make a difference?
The conclusion I've come is is.....we can't - but God can! We may feel helpless, but we aren't hopeless. Seeing the need confirms to us the importance of what God has called us to do to make a difference. The hope of Africa is a new generation of leaders who are not caught in the grip of greed, hatred, or fear. God is up to something! He's at work! The enemy would have us see the needs, the problems, the bleakness. God would have us keep our eyes ON Him, our trust IN Him.
We don't have all the answers, but we can live here, love and serve those around us, pray, share His goodness, and be faithful in the things we face each day. These may seem like small actions, but in God's sight they are powerful weapons.
There IS hope! In fact, the tide may already be turning - we just can't see it yet.
"When everything was hopeless, he hoped anyway." Romans 4:18 The Message