Tuesday, November 18, 2008


About a week ago i was looking around for some interesting reading material - something relating to the new area of ministry that i will be entering into ('Young Families Ministries Coordinator at Plumstead Methodist Church from January 2009) - when i came across this book by Nikki Bush & Graeme Codrington. I was so excited about this book that i decided to order it as it is not available in our little town yet. Yesterday however i met with Pete (my new boss :) ) for coffee and he decided that it would be good if i can read up a bit before i get to Cape Town. Guess what book he brought for me to read...

yip! "Future-Proof your Child"

So, if you don't hear much from my side in the next couple of days it is perhaps due to the fact that i am reading (and re-reading) the book. And yes, i will share some of my thoughts on this book as i go on.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ezra, inter-marriage and divorce

During the past few months, our fellowship group has been working systematically through the books of the Bible. We have been having great fun, and and have discovered God in new ways. On Wednesday night, we concentrated on the last chapter of Ezra. The nation has again sinned against God and "they have added to their guilt by marrying foreign wives". People are threatened with loss of property and excommunication and so all gather for an important meeting. At this meeting the inter-marriages comes under the looking-glass and the meeting decides to honor God and do 'the right thing' by sending away their foreign wives and their children born from these wives.

While their dedication and commitment, their true repentance, is commendable - i cannot help but wonder what God really though of that. I understand the theological impact of the inter-marriages and that it symbolizes the adultery and idolatry of the nation. But ... Was that His will, or was that man's idea of what would be pleasing to God?

Would love to hear some thoughts on this chapter.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Something is BUGGING me

The story starts in July 2008 already:

It is Holiday Club here at UMC, about 280 children from different walks of life have been together for four days and the 64 , very tired, leaders are having their hands full but all seems to go well and the kids seem to be responding well to the Gospel, except...

A group of 5 kids that seems to be related somehow are constantly fighting. They look like street children but they assure us that they have homes and families. One of them, the eldest, is bullying the other 4. We call them aside and talk and pray with them. They are sorry and will behave from now on.

Day 5 - the last day is over and we hear a scream outside: The eldest of the five kids has pulled a knife. We take the knife and call the kids in, one by one. She claims that the knife is for protection. She tells a heartbreaking story. Her little brother (or at least we think he is) tells the family history in a different way, still heartbreaking. We keep the knife and let them go, telling them that their parents can come to fetch the knife - they never do.

That night, we realize that the kids never really went home that afternoon. We feed them and offer to take them home, they accept the food and reject the lift home. Someone claiming to be their uncle picks them up.

Four months later

It is Sunday morning, amongst the many smiling faces at Sunday school i spot 5 familiar faces. They are wearing the same clothes as four moths earlier. They even join us for a cup of tea after the service. I am excited, maybe the seed that was planted at holiday club is starting to germinate...

over the next month they become regulars in the Sunday School. We still have no idea where they actually live. I start to notice that when i arrive on a Sunday Evening for our contemporary service - they are already there. Do they actually go home for lunch?

The are so at home now that they are beginning to bully the other kids, ever the older youth (who are very patient and tolerant) are beginning to complain that the 'street kids' are throwing them with stones. I call the kids aside, i talk to them once more (maybe they don't know better).

It is Sunday again, the kids again arrive at Sunday School, the old ladies are now beginning to get annoyed with these kids who wolf down everything that is meant for the congregation to share with their tea. I explain that they must have been hungry but that i will talk to them. At four that afternoon i arrive at the church the kids come out of hiding from behind the church but deny that they were there. Again they terrorize the youth (who are now beginning to loose their patience). During the service I find myself battling to concentrate on on the sermon that i am delivering as they keep moving around, giggling and throwing each other with berries.

After the service I call them together and explain that they are welcome but that there are certain kinds of behavior that is not appropriate. I try to be firm but 'nice' and tell them that the service finishes by 20h00 and that they have to arrange with their parents to pick them up at that time (the previous 2 weeks we took them to somewhere in the middle of the informal settlement - they still don't want us to see where they live - after it became clear that 'their uncle' is not coming).

Monday Evening, my day off - i quickly run into the church to pick something up. When i turn around, they are there. I feel awful but tell them that they cannot be there at that time.

Tuesday - youth cells. I open up at 17h00 so the band can practice - the kids sneak in. It is cold and rainy outside but I take a hard line and tell them that they need to go home before it gets dark. At 18h45 I realize that they are still there, again throwing the youth (who came for cell groups) with stones. I am angry - I take them out of the church and tell them that they are welcome on a Sunday, but this is the time for older kids. I tell them that i cannot allow them to hurt the other kids and if that continues, they will not be welcome...

I came home at about 21h30 last night feeling BUGGED about this... Surely the church could not tell anyone that they are not welcome. I heard Jesus saying: "Suffer the little children to come unto me" and i saw a picture of him chasing people who made it impossible for others to worship out of the church and it BUGGS me! it buggs me that there are kids who have no place to go on a rainly day other than an open church. It buggs me that i have gone so far as to tell these kids that they are welcome - conditionally. It bugss me that if i allow these kids to be there, others are not free to worship and focus. It buggs me that i suspect that things might start disappearing from the church if i do not set boundaries.

WWJD is becoming increasingly more difficult for me


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Protocol Observed

It was a Saturday and, as often happens in the ministry, i found myself running from one meeting to the next:
* The first meeting was an informal meeting in a local coffee shop. There were no carefully planed agenda's and nobody was taking any minutes - simply a hand full of people who are involved in mission of some form or description. They came from different churches, organizations, cultures and socio-economical backgrounds. No one was 'in charge', each person sharing in a celebration of the work of God in the world.
* The second was an official church meeting, (and a very important one i may add) chaired by one of the influential ministers who holds a high office in the hierarchy of our church. This too was a meeting about mission. The chairperson was attempting to explain to the meeting (all ministers, pastors, preachers and leaders) that all people are set free to be in mission.

In the first meeting I found a sincere appreciation for the skills; the ministry and the lives of each other as we shared in each others joys, hurts, dreams and challenges. People were reaching out across the divides in an effort to reach a common goal. In the second meeting i found competitiveness, pride, jealousy and so much red tape that nothing that was shared will be implemented within at least three months of the meeting... but at least protocol has been observed

Monday, November 3, 2008

Give us today our daily bread...

Sitting in a coffee shop the other day, a friend asked:" What can i eat that is cheap and filling, but please don't tell me 'bread'! "

How often have i been in that place in my own life: "Lord, i want to be filled with Your Spirit, i want to know You more... But please don't tell me to spend more time and energy on my knees and with your Word"

Why do we settle for that which cannot satisfy? Why do we want the cheap and easy option Spiritually? Today i will ask for my Daily Bread and find it not in spiritual junckfood, but in "the Bread of Life".