(This was posted in the wrong place, so I am reposting today)
When departing Cape Town, I was processing all of our rich adventures in learning. I was stretched wonderfully by this traveling Advance! I was especially trying to focus in on what I learned about racial reconciliation. I was pleasantly surprised to find this little spot at the CPT airport called the “Reconciliation Room” which was tucked away in the basement. Not sure what exactly the room is for, but a picture popped into my head of two people in an argument being shuffled away to this room to work out their differences. I pondered what a better world it would be if everyone had a little room where anyone with a problem could go to and work out their disagreements. Immediately, I thought to myself, “Why don’t we have more of these rooms around the world?” Like in our schools, at the grocery store, next to the courthouse, even in CHURCH!
If we had these reconciliation rooms scattered strategically, we would need fewer lawyers, for sure. A married couple having a sharp disagreement could go in to the reconciliation room, and would not be let out until they made progress. Ah, maybe there would be less divorces in the world.
Families in crisis could go there, too. I pictured a wise mediator in the room standing by to give assistance. Parents could talk to their children without yelling, and children would be required to check their attitudes at the door.
In a country where racial reconciliation is such a huge deal, South Africa impressed me because someone had the brilliant idea to build a room where folks could try “clear the air” and gain their voice in being heard. Just one more reason to love this amazing country…
We were blessed to hear many moving testimonies and speakers. In one stretching morning, we heard from one, “God is queer” and from another, “Truth and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive.” My world was opened wide and my ears even wider, when Mahlatse “Winston” Mashua, the South African Director of Ravi Zacharias’ Ministries, shared from his deep heart about his conversion to Christianity from Animism.
Are you kidding me? Witch Doctors appearing to morph into serpents, their voices mimicking someone’s Grandma? Made what little hair I have stand up on the back of my neck! I was sitting on the edge of my seat, riveted at God’s almighty power demonstrated through this brilliant man. At the same time, my awareness of the deceitfulness of God’s enemy was elevated.
In a prior mission trip to a different part of the continent of Africa, I heard with my own ears the deep drumbeats pounding from the high places in Kenya. I was told of Animism, heard vague stories of witch doctors, and of ancestral worship. Somehow and for some reason I could not, or would not, grasp this significant ploy of the Devil. That is, until Winston took the microphone. I could almost picture his Satan induced paralysis and subsequent victorious encounter with the God of the universe.
I had never met a former Animist, but he was so gracious as several of us gathered around him and pelted him with questions. There was Stu and Pablo, Chris and Garfield, and a tall bald guy from the state of Montana, riveted on every one of his humble answers, amazed at his patience with us foreigners of lesser intellect.
I will never forget it. I must never forget it. God is all powerful!
By far, my favorite time of all the special opportunities we had, was playing with the children outside of Golden the Flowerman’s shop, slapping high fives and lifting those little angels up into the air as I heard their precious giggles. Since I have already shared my favorite picture of this event in a previous blog and since we have already talked about that very same picture during a ZOOM chat, I decided to share a different, but still immediately recognizable, picture from my second favorite event of our time together.
Attending the J.L. Zwaane Presbyterian Church worship service, with our international Brothers and Sisters in Christ, impacted me in tremendous ways. Half a world away, with brightly adorned worshipers on “Heritage Day” singing songs I have never heard before, with many words I barely understood, after two hours, and a screaming sermon–the Holy Spirit moved me! The God of the Bible: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, showed up and although I never felt so different, I never felt so much the same. Thank you Lord for reminding me that the church is not wholly American, it is not totally white, it doesn’t need fancy lights and fog machines, and it certainly makes no difference if it is hymns, choruses or chants. GOD BE GLORIFIED through His church (and in a church that is ministering to the “least of these” in major ways that most of us Westerners cannot realistically imagine).
Now I understand why Bill Hybels from Chicago’s Willow Creek Church at the LEADERSHIP SUMMIT on August 10, 2012 stated emphatically, “The local church is the hope of the world!”
How do you explain privilege simply to those who don't see it? This video demonstrates.
Posted by Woke Folks on Thursday, October 12, 2017
I was searching high and low for a proper way to respond to people’s questions when I returned to Montana, when they asked, “What was the number one thing you learned in South Africa?” I struggled to put it into words, how could I? A white guy, from a state that is over 90% white, who Pastor’s a church in a county that is over 97% caucasian, talking intelligently about racial reconciliation?
Then I ran across this video. So I shared it on my personal Facebook site with the words, “This video explains what I learned while studying in South Africa. I have been privileged, big time. All of us still have to run the race, and we must all answer for how we run. But because I am privileged, I was handed a big head start. I am still trying to wrestle why God so graciously allowed me to be born into the family he gave me, while others were born into theirs, to no fault of their own…”
It encapsulated exactly what I was thinking and felt. Perfectly!
I was trying to understand critically what I wanted to say without seeming like the “White Privileged” man that I am. I have never missed a single meal while growing up. and benefited from both birth parents raising me. I was never sexually or physically abused by an uncle, never denied a job because of my skin color. I was not expected at the age of 13 to financially support our family, and certainly received a world class education from age 5 to 25.
Put this video together with the black African American female voices we heard in the group study with the GRANDSON OF THE ARCHITECT OF APARTHEID, Wilhelm Verwoerd, and we have received back in spades every valuable dollar we have sacrificially invested in our Doctoral studies, and this in only the first month of the program!
#5 (some bonus pictures)
Who would have ever thunk that we would be able to see Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robbin Island, and see the stones of former inmates that were piled up years later in an act of healing, as they returned free men to the prison that mercilessly held them captive? One of the stones was from our tour guide, imprisoned alongside Mandiba, tortured with electricity on his privates and through his skull. In a brief moment of alone time with this giant of a human being, I asked him quietly, “How do you forgive?”
His smile lit up the sky. His eyes sparkled with life. His voice immediately responded, “We must forgive! It is the only way to live and move forward.”
Thank you my Brother, and thank you Portland Seminary at George Fox University!