LGP Stories

Personal Stories from DMINLGP


Written by: on October 23, 2017

AMERICA the home of the free! All people are equal! Justice for All!  The leader of the World!


My eighth grade English class was a life changer for me. My English teacher told us that we were black and the white man viewed us as low class and ignorant. She told us that we were not ignorant and we had the ability to be great leaders, business owners, and even President of the United States of America. I have shared this with my Co-Horts in previous chats. That class year was the pivotal point in my life that sparked my need to get what I desired from this world. So I set my mind to be the first Negro to attend a White high school near my area. Well, I was among the second group of Negros to attend, because integration took effect the year before my high school year. I was aware of the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King and the Black Panther Movement.  My Founding Pastor, Rev. Dr. William A. Lawson, was involved with King and ministered to the Black Panthers.


Rev. Lawson & Martin L. King      Rev. Lawson with students     Me in my dashiki and afro

I was taught African history by my Pastor. He wanted us to know we were created by God and were born through a rich culture of people from Africa.  I developed a passion for Africa. I had my first face-to-face with an African person during my second year of college. I began to associate with them and realized their culture is where I wanted to be. It was similar to the moment in the movie “The Jerk” when Steve heard the music on the radio. In 2008, I spent thirty days in Ghana, West Africa and in 2017, I spent 12 days in Capetown, South Africa.


Cape Town Airport


Commodore Hotel and the waterfront scenery

The city of Capetown was beautiful!  Being on the waterfront scenery reminded me of our small Kemah Boardwalk. The people were pleasant, gracious, welcoming, helpful, friendly and just made you feel welcomed. My church, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, supports mission organizations in South Africa and the Commodore Hotel was there choice of lodging when they visited. I visited two of the mission sites.


A visit with Rainbow of Hope (Church Mission Site) First picture 2nd person on left is the person I am standing next to in the last picture.



I learned there is such a parallel between South African’s human challenges and the United States human challenges. It was as I was continually looking in a mirror which initiated pain. I was surrounded by Christian Leaders. We found ourselves in a beautiful country with beautiful people being faced with issues we thought we left in the United States but had a strong resemblance in South Africa – the issues of human equality and respect, regardless of skin color and gender. I realized it’s a global problem. The issues for women, LGBTQ community, blacks, colored, and browns.


Madela and TuTu on building             Ceiling Art in New Hospital



District Six Museum                   Founder of District Six Museum                             The Name Cloth


Greg Gilbert review of the book, Changing the World by James Davison Hunter, said  “the church should understand its charge in the world to be one of ‘faithful presence within’… ‘to bear witness to and to be the embodiment of the coming Kingdom of God.’  The point is not to change the world, but to bear witness to the world in word and deed that a better world is coming.” [1] We, the church leaders were challenged as to how effective are we in our community. We were faced with our Godly views, traditional teachings, and personal experiences. How do we handle the uncomfortableness?

Mahlatse Winston Moshua, spoke on his personal history growing up African and their family spiritual belief and worship.  He shared how his family was ancestor worshippers and they prayed through the ancestors to God. He shared the views of some Africans challenging the views of the White god. [2]Again, another mirrored American history. African Americans began to challenge the religion shared by the plantation owners and preachers during the movement for equality and respect. I was reminded of the book Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane. I blogged that “During these violent times, the missionaries recruited people who looked like the coloreds to teach and scare (encourage) the people to turn from their black God’s and wicked witch doctors, and give their hearts to their White God and Jesus so that they can get to heaven.” [3]


Winson Mousha                                       Me responding to Mousha Comments        Session Setup

Rev. Michelle Bonzaaier and Mary Burton, Speakers


I heard from leadership jewels. One such jewel was Pastor Rev. Dr. Spiwo Xapile. He demonstrated a man of spiritual wisdom by his ability to facilitate issues that were sensitive and uncomfortable. He made the statement “don’t personalize another person’s pain but address it.” [4] Speaker Wilhelm Verwoed, whose grandfather was one of the chief heads of the apartheid regime, discussed his struggles facing and accepting his family history. He spoke about following Jesus, it sometimes leads to leaving one’s family. Isn’t that what the disciples did?  He said, “If you want to follow Jesus you must move from your uncomfortable convictions to die to yourself to become open to humanity, as Jesus did.” [5] At this conversation we were seeking for our views that may help the people with their struggles with leadership and personal interactions. In our travels, I noted that the government’s progress was slow in its reparations of homes to those they oppressed. Homelessness and unemployment are high. They wanted the voice of black Americans but all we could share was, “we’re not there yet.”  My thoughts to America:  you say we are free and offered us reparations, 40 acres, and a mule. My family has land, but we are not free because the underlined racism has become outwardly expressed. So hold on to my mule. I’m not closing the deal yet, until its true freedom for all.



The Black Art                                   Wilhelm Verwoed                   Pastor Spiwo Speaking



The conversation at JL Zwaane Presbyterian Church

This Advance was balanced with intense lessons and decompressing activities. The view of the penguins, safari and wine vineyard tours brought sweet relief. It allowed us an opportunity to see that there is also joy in the mist of our uncomfortableness. The food was fabulous. The view of the city: beauty, history, and progress.



Good Coffee and               Just One Bite!                    Coffee Shop in Capetown Airport



Lunch at Easter Food Bazaar in the City


Ostrich Cape Hope                                  Zebra Nursing                                Ostrich Safari



Cross on Mountain                        The Bo-Kaap, beautiful, colorful neighborhood since 1700’s





Enjoying the Wine Tour



Mandela spoke in District Six honoring those who returned Home. Each one was given a plaque. The gentlemen sitting on the right of Mandela was the home I visited in District 6. The plaque read: “District Six Beneficiary and Redevelopment Trust ‘Welcome Our Elders Back Home’”


Oldest High School – district Six


As I return to my environment, yearning for the spiritual maturity in wisdom that was displayed and applied by Pastors Jason Clark and Pastor Dr. Spiwo Xapile. They reminded me of my Pastors Lawson and Cosby maturity. They know how to remain in peace during a storm, be the calming presence during a storm, and not to be the wind that keeps it going.


  Mark 4:39, “Peace Be Still.”

I will be more intentional with my Spiritual Discipline, increase my study of the word and intimate prayer time. I will respond to unexpected challenges with poise and immediately ask the Holy Spirit for peace and words to downsize the situation. I want to possess a sweet spirit.

In my ministry, I will continue the path of empowering students to achieve the destination God created for them and to encourage them and increasing their self-esteem.




[1] Gregg Gilbert, Book Review: To Change the World, accessed 3-8-2017, https://9marks.org/review/ change-world/.

[2] Mahlatse Winston Mashua, His Life and Family Faith, Portland Seminary 2017 Capetown South Africa Advance, (Speaker, Commodore Hotel, Capetown: September 23, 2017).

[3] Lynda Gittens, “ A Child’s Conquest,” Georgefox Blogs, accessed 10/14/2017, ttp://blogs.georgefox.edu/  dminlgp/a-childs-conquest/.

[4] Pastor Rev. Dr. Spiwo Xapile, “Gugulethu Happening Happening Leaders Conversation”, Portland Seminary 2017 South Africa Advance, (Panelist, JL Zwaane Presbyterian Church, Capetown: September 25, 2017).

[5] Wilhelm Verwoed, “Gugulethu Happening Leaders Conversation”, Portland Seminary 2017 South Africa Advance, (Panelist, JL Zwaane Presbyterian Church, Capetown: September 25, 2017).


About the Author

Lynda Gittens

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