Today I felt as though I was transported back in time. Not because of the seeming era that South Africa lives in, but because I was reminded of my first visits to Ukraine at the beginning of this decade. CEO partners Josh and Abby took me out to visit the work of a woman working among the poor in this area.
It was cold and rainy at about noon when we drove out of town about fifteen minutes from Mossel Bay. We arrived at a house on a nice street which is serving as a Skills Development and Training Center. At this place I learned many things about life here for the non-white peoples. Most or all of which are tragic and, I suggest, bring tears to our Father’s eyes every day and night.
I was told that gang life is wide spread, organized and horrible. Gangs here, like everywhere else, are places that youths go to to find community, prove their worth, and provide for their family through the fruits of their crime. Apparently, these young men enter the gang through initiation and then perform crimes to rise in rank, each ‘promotion’ is marked by a new tattoo, so that, the higher ranking members have longer stretches of tattoos on their arms. Eventually they wind up in prison and some make their way back to the streets. It is here that this center’s leader wishes to have a place for them to go as a half way house to learn a skill and find a job (no small feat since unemployment in this region is reportedly over 50%). Thus getting them out of the cycle of crime, incarceration, release, crime…
We also heard more about the plight of girls in these communities. This was the second time this week that I have heard about these tragedies (among both black and white). There is apparently sexual abuse of girls in the poorer communities from very early ages affecting nearly 80% of the population. Once raped, these girls often become promiscuous because they have lost their purity. Earlier in the week, I met a couple who have a burden for a ministry to these girls. I will be learning more from them and will address this problem next week.
At the training center, we saw a young lady learning how to sew and make coats
and young men who were learning how to work with wood to make trays and garden edging. All with the intention of learning a trade to become self supporting.
This center is being run by two women, one white and one colored (‘colored’ here is a mixed race person of a lighter skin tone as distinguished from black folks). The driving force behind this tiny organization is a university trained woman who studied psychology and has been involved in social work for several years. She is a literacy volunteer who gets to know people in the community through her teaching and finds those who truly want to help themselves. We will meet with her again next week to visit more preschools.
When we visited the center and received the quick tour, a team of women were putting the finishing touches on a hot lunch of soup and fish cakes to be taken to a ‘creche’ or preschool in a nearby township. So after a quick cup of tea…
we loaded up in our cars and drove out.
Next: a visit to a township…
I was at the new church in Mossel Bay today and man has it grown!!!! Their one year celebration is next Sunday and I am glad that I am going to be here for that. I was honored to speak to the folks today on the topic of reading Scripture. Scripture is vital to the life of the follower of Jesus, but sadly, many of us don’t read the Word enough.
On a happy note I got the good news that the team is home safe!
I am getting some time to rest and read… I am also going to make some time for solitude while I am down here… about three days this coming week.
More soon from S. Africa as soon as I find a coffee shop and some wireless time there.
On a related note… you readers in America need to be thankful for your dsl and free wireless all over the place… maybe more on that later… huh, maybe I’m getting rested… I feel some rants coming on!
Over on Joanna’s blog are pix from the week… click here
I am pleased to be posting from Mossel Bay, S. Africa. I am staying with the Davis family for awhile. Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at the church that officially began almost one year ago. Josh and Abby are awesome servants of God that I love being around. So, twittering and posting will, for the next couple of weeks, be from down here.
I was able to text the princess of Obuda and learn that just as I landed, the team was checked in and on their way back to the U.S. I am grateful for their willingness to work and serve among kids, students and young professionals. I believe that the time they invested in folks in Vac and Budapest, added to the other investments of time and love by Joanna, the Coppages, and the Newells will bear everlasting fruit.
My next almost two weeks will be in and around the church in Mossel Bay and the related outreach of the body of Christ here. This will be a more intentional vision clarifying trip for me since I had my introduction to Mossel Bay and the church last year. I am also going to make some quiet/solitude time happen. Scheduling that will be a top priority tonight and tomorrow. I will be preaching tomorrow about returning to Scripture as a guide for life. My friend Mark made a great suggestion about using Josiah that has really gelled as a basis for this talk. I may post about the talk tomorrow.
two of my fav colleagues at one of the best places on earth
On most of these trips there is a Friday – Saturday leg of the trip in which Saturday breakfast is enjoyed by Gabor (not pictured), Arden, Laci and me. This morning was no exception. But Arden is moving to America and Laci, Keri and their girls are moving to Budapest. Gabor and I will hold down the fort on the Saturday breakfasts. The night before was the last ICF of the season, check it out on Arden’s blog (she even snuck in pic of me!).
Meanwhile in Budapest Joanna and the team were hanging out with students at Coffee House…
Our hope is that the conversations we are having with students will have meaningful and eternal consequesnces…
In in the Heartland for another 9 days with a great team. Please pray for our endeavors in Vac and Budapest. I am also making some side trips while the team is pretty stationary working with CEO’s partners. My hope is to make new connections for CEO partnerships. After the Heartland, I’m off to South Africa for for a while. My posting will remain in the minimalist mode, but I will be putting up a daily tweet so keep your eye on the Twitter update on the right…
Here is a pic of our team and our friends the Coppages at a Vac Stars baseball game. Doug is missing in the top pic ‘cuz he is sliding into home in the second pic.