Setting the Scene – 11/7

Arriving at night time in Cape Town really helped to not get keyed up for the week ahead. Being dark and all, it was hard to see anything versus arriving in the day time and having the opportunity to see all the sights, watching people living life. I think it would have kicked the adrenaline in overdrive with anticipation, wanting to get started right away. Maybe it’s just me but by us arriving at night it helped me to stay calm and actually get a little sleep that first night.

I am not a morning person and for me to be up and about before 7 is a very rare thing. I woke at a little after 6 and was thankful that I did not feel the least bit tired or dragging as I typically do most morning. Jimmie had gotten up even earlier than me and had decided to venture out to see what the breakfast scene was like around our location. I decided to make some coffee and study God’s word in preparation for my short teaching time on Thursday with the EPIC students.

Arriving at the lodge the night before we had no way of knowing that the Indian Ocean laid just a couple of good 3 woods away from our front door. I love the water, always have and so being able to look out my window and see the ocean first thing in the morning was a sweet song to my soul each morning and a great way to start every day! The seaside community we were staying in is called Muizenberg and is a surfer’s paradise. There would always be dozens of surfers in the water by 6 am or so getting an early jump on the waves. Truly was an incredible way to start each morning.

Terry Hilliard and his son, Jeremy, arrived at our place around 9 am to give us a complete rundown of their ministry, Bridge 4 Hope, a brief history lesson on South Africa as well as setting expectations and the agenda for the week. We were able to get a better understanding of what Apartheid had done to the South African nation and the devastation it brought on most of it’s population. It’s been 20 years since it ended but the effects are still very much evident as you drive around Cape Town and see the disparity between the haves and have not’s. I will cover that in more detail in a future post. For now, I will just say it’s a travesty of the human spirit and I was once again shocked at how cruel we can be to one another.

We then went for a short walking tour around Muizenberg. It was once a thriving Jewish community but now only remnants remain. The buildings and atmosphere definitely have an European feel to them. As I said, this is a surfer’s paradise, so there are a handful of different surf shops located within the main area or boardwalk as it were of Muizenberg. Several fine clothes shops and specialty stores are sprinkled in as well, creating a quaint little area for the tourist to check out. For me, the coolest part about this area was all the different waterfront cafe’s and such. My favorite of these was a place called Empire Cafe. Although it was small, it featured a balcony area that had big windows that opened up to a spectacular view of the beach and Indian Ocean! And just to add a little flare, there was a train track about halfway between the cafe and the beach.

When we had finished the walking tour we made our way back to the lodge so that we could pack up and head out to Beautiful Gate in Philipi. Beautiful Gate is an orphanage that partners with Bridge 4 Hope by allowing them to rent space at their location. As we loaded up the van for the ride out, I was thankful that God had allowed me the opportunity to come to Cape Town and was getting excited to see what was in store for the remainder of our time in this most beautiful of settings.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Peaceful, Easy Feeling – 11/5

The following was written on the plane ride home from Paris to Atlanta.

Monday was a hard day with trying to get last minute details worked out for my time away while anxiously awaiting 3 pm to arrive so we could leave for the airport. I spent a lot of the morning listening to MercyMe and Kari Jobe worship songs. Kari’s Revelation song is one of those songs that gets to me no matter how often I hear it.

I was thinking about what lay ahead and was most excited about getting the opportunity to work with young people between the ages of 18 to 28, in their environment. I was also excited about seeing South Africa for the first time as I have always heard how beautiful it was. I have always enjoyed traveling, seeing new things and meeting new people. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures – meeting new people but one I think too many people take for granted.

I was more than a little anxious about this trip even though I have traveled out of the country on several occasions before. I have never shared this publicly before but I seem to suffer from a condition from which I am not sure what it’s called or even if there is a name for it but I call it US Separation anxiety. The symptoms are thus: as soon as I step foot on the ground in another country I begin to suffer something like an anxiety attack. Nothing full blown or anything but just an overwhelming, uneasy feeling that resides within me until I am able to once again put my feet on US soil.

So now, I was about to go half way around the world for 9 days – all the while wondering if I was going to make it without freaking out. And not be able to focus on the work at hand. The flight over was uneventful outside of the turbulence we experienced the first couple of hours. I didn’t experience any weird feelings and was able to get some much needed rest.

As we approached Cape Town, I could feel the uneasyness beginning to creep into my thoughts. Instead of trying to calm myself down, I simply began praying that God would affirm the trip in my spirit and remove the uncomfortable feeling I was having. In that same instance, I felt God’s peace envelope my spirit and it is with me now has I write this some 9 days later and 5 hours from landing back in Atlanta.

I know some of you have felt God’s calling/prompting to take a mission trip and for whatever reason, you haven’t quite made it yet. I hope this will be an encouragement to you and just know that God is greater than any perceived or real problem/issue you may face!!

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Getting Excited

so, 4 days and counting! To say I am getting excited about the upcoming trip to South Africa is an understatement to say the least. Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jimmie Warren as we began discussing what topics we wanted to cover next week during our time to teach at the Bridge 4 Hope center. They offer various programs for their students and one of these is called EPIC.  Their current group of students going through this will actually graduate on the Monday right before we leave to come back home. It will be such a great honor to see their ceremony and then to be able to watch how God uses them in the years to come.

Our team, which I am so grateful to be a part of,  will have the opportunity to take part in teaching these students over a two day period next Thursday and Friday at the Bridge4Hope campus. On Thursday, we are going to cover evangelism, studying techniques, leadership and other topics as well as giving our personal testimonies. And then on Friday, we will split the students up as Jimmie and I will teach the young men on being Godly men of Christ while Faith and Mandy will teach the young ladies about prayer and faith.

Jimmie and I are going use an outline developed from a recent study that we both had the opportunity to teach at our Sugar Hill Church called Kingdom Man that Dr. Tony Evans put together. Not sure if we can cover everything as the study is so rich with scripture, stories and practical application but I pray that however much we are able to give them, would be something that are to build on for a lifetime!! I am just amazed and humbled that God would allow us the opportunity to travel half way around the world and teach young people for two days as they near completing their program!

Jimmie will also have the privilege of preaching on Sunday the 11th while were there. I am excited for him and can’t wait to be part of that service with what I am sure will be a host new life-long friends! And really, as I think about it, it is really cool that we will get the chance to meet a lot of our brothers and sisters in Christ as a result of this trip! I think it’s easy to forget that for those of us who are Christ followers, that we have this huge family of brothers and sisters in our neighborhood, community, state, country and around the world. Would the world be a different place if we, believers, would treat each other like family? I’d like to think so! Anyway, sorry about that as I have strayed off topic.

While I’m thinking about it, thanks to all you for your prayers for me and our team as we prepare to leave and hope you will continue to pray for us when we are there. I would also like to publicly thank those who have given financial support to help make this trip possible.

I’m reminded of a couple of verses from 1 Peter 4:7-11  – The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

Peace and thanks for reading!!

 

2 Weeks and Counting

Wow, 2 weeks from today, I will be leaving for 10 days for what, is for me, the longest trip I have ever taken and what I am expecting to be, the most exciting. In preparation for the trip, I have been reading everything I can on Cape Town and the people that make up it’s population and in particular, the area we will be working, which is, The Cape Flats.

Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest city and the second largest city, behind only Johannesburg in terms of population at nearly 4 million people. The Cape Flats make up the majority of the total population of Cape Town. Apartheid (racial segregation)was instituted in 1948 and shortly led to the Group Areas Act, which classified all areas according to race. As a result, formerly multi-racial suburbs of Cape Town were either purged of unlawful residents or demolished. In 1965, one entire area of 60,000 homes was destroyed and most of it’s people moved to the area now known as the Cape Flats.

Due to Apartheid, South Africa was sent reeling into economic depression and racial dissension. Only in the last 10 to 15 years as the Cape Town area began it’s ascension back and unfortunately, it will take decades for this region to recover. But there is hope as tourism as helped the Country to start rebuilding it’s economy. Poverty, poor healthcare and education remain the most overwhelming obstacles to overcome for this region.

Bridge4Hope is working to help in all of these areas as their Mission is: We exist to equip African individuals to be the catalyst of change in their society and to build sustainable communities together. We aim to bring transformative solutions to poverty, suffering, and injustice through holistic community development by the means of education, healthcare, small business development, and church planting. We seek to change the world, one community at a time.

One of their courses – EPIC – recently kicked off a new session with 12 new students. You can read up on this here: http://b4hope.wordpress.com/category/epic-leadership-discipleship-school/ . When we are there in 2 weeks, we will have the opportunity to work with these young folks one on one and in group sessions. It’s very humbling to think that God would allow me the opportunity to travel half-way across the world and take part in helping young people there grow in their relationship with Christ!

My prayer today is this: that over the next 2 weeks, I would be diligent in studying God’s word and preparing myself in such a way, that I may be used by Him in whatever way required during my time in Cape Town!!

I anxiously await to meet the people of Cape Town and submerge myself into their culture and prayerfully hope that through Christ, our team, is able to assist these young people in strengthening their relationship with Christ, their families, and their community.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

South Africa Mission 11-4-12

I am so excited, as I have recently learned that I will have the opportunity to take part in a mission trip, in which we are partnering with Hope Africa Collective. Myself along with four others will be traveling to Cape Town, South Africa on November 5th to take part in the work being done there.

Mission trips in general, are always good but I am really excited about the opportunity that this one presents, as it offers, in addition to evangelical opportunities, the chance for me to utilize my computer skills to teach local students on how to use various software and other tools on their computers. And to know this is part of Bridge for Hope’s larger mission in “We exist to equip African individuals to be the catalyst of change in their society and to build sustainable communities together.” is very exciting.

I love the approach that Bridge for Hope is trying to implement and follow through with in the Cape Town community. Too many times I feel that we fall short with our “mission trips” by not providing the means or equipping those who live there to sustain long after the trip has ended. And for me, to know that I get to play a part in helping individuals to have the potential to better their quality of life is both humbling and exciting.

I have been in constant prayer about the upcoming trip – to be open to letting God use me and our team in whatever capacity is needed while we are there and beyond! Praying for those that we will be privileged, to not only meet, but work with and share a little of our life together. Praying for our team to have strength, wisdom, and patience for the spiritual battles that are sure to come as we make this journey. Praying for others who might read this or hear about our trip, to join in praying for us, as well as the folks who have committed to live in South Africa and work as part of Bridge for Hope International team.

Obviously, with any trip of this magnitude, there is a cost to get there and for each of us on the team the cost will be $2,400.00. I originally was compelled to say no to this opportunity because of the cost but I knew and know that I am called to make this journey. As I was working through whether or not to take this trip, I was convicted that even though every part of me knew this was something I was being called to do – that my initial response, concern was about the cost and not the mission.

Obedience is a funny thing. I am ok with obedience as long as it is convenient for me and doesn’t require me to put my faith to the test… So through prayer and council, I decided to have faith and take the journey. All I can say at this point is that ever since I committed to following God’s lead and saying yes to the trip, I have been overwhelmed with peace.

So today, October 10, I now find myself like a young child at Christmas who continually wakes up during the night just hoping that the time has come to see what’s under the tree. I now anxiously await November 5th so I (we) can begin our journey!

My plan is to post something here everyday until my return from South Africa so be looking for the updates if you are interested in sharing this journey. And I do hope that you will join in praying for us and Bridge for Hope.

Additionally, if you would like to help financially, you can mail your checks to Sugar Hill Church, 5091 Nelson Brogdon Blvd., Sugar Hill, GA 30518. Please make checks payable to Sugar Hill Church. If you wish to receive a tax credit, the memo line on check must be left blank. You can drop a note in the envelope designating who the funds are intended to support.

Peace and thanks for reading!!