“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I remain in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
August 15th marked 7 months since I’ve been in South Africa. I want to believe that this time is extra-ordinary as according to biblical principles, the number 7 – one of the most significant numbers in the bible signify perfection or completion. In my present situation it means completion of the initial period of adjustment to a new culture, new challenges and a new lifestyle. Let me reflect back on the past 7 months. My initial placement did not work out and so I found myself to Cape Town via Somerset West, Stellenbosh and Blouberg to the Young Women’s Christian residence (YW) offering counselling service for subsidised accommodation fee. As counselling appointments tapered off I had to take the initiative and find other placements. I was led to a homeless project in Cape Town called Bread4Life that minister to and feed over 400 homeless people every Wednesdays.
Bread4Life is a church for the homeless. At Bread4Life we look at the holistic needs of each individual. Apart from catering to their physical needs of food and clothing, we start each week with prayer and worship, provide a listening ear and are available to pray with those who request prayer and need encouragement after. The aim is to rehabilitate them back into society, finding them a job and place to live. Please visit the website www.bread4life.org
My usual walk to downtown Cape Town has not been the same since as I am now greeted by many homeless people who have come to know me at Bread4Life. At times I feel like a priest walking around Cape Town:-) God has use Bread4Life to reveal himself to me, to ignite a fire in my heart and crave more for and feed on Him – the Bread of Life. He has use the homeless to make me feel at home. How ironic? His thoughts are nothing like our thoughts and His ways are far beyond anything we can imagine (Isaiah 55:8). Recently we had the opportunity to be on CCfm (a local Christian radio station) talking about the work we are doing amongst the homeless. I also give my time fort-nightly on a Saturday as a ‘prayer friend’ to CCfm and was recently involved in their fundraising Share-a-thon where they had me on the radio taking about my experience in Cape Town and singing Bob Marley ‘No Woman no Cry’ . From then on my crying subsided:-)
“Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
My involvement with Bread4Life and CCfm has been encouraging and fun and I am beginning to feel at home. The team at Bread4Life have welcomed me without reservation and given me the opportunity to bring out my gift of teaching, something I usually shy away from. Johnny Papadakis (the leader) is determine to develop this gifting in me and have put me on the spot a few times by asking me to give the word, leaving me shaking and sweating profusely. My next challenge is to preach without prior preparation and so this is developing in me a skill like David to study and meditate on the word day and night. I am so blessed to be a part of this team and to be able to do the much needed work among the homeless in Cape Town.
Apart from that I am helping out in the local Alpha Office where I’ve met Jeremy Jobling (National Director). We have many friends in common from my years as a member of Holy Trinity Brompton – HTB, London. Jeremy invited me on a 3-day Transformational Leadership course and I was truly blessed by this experience. I came away feeling challenged with the realization that leadership is difficult but that one can be trained to be an effective leader. Romans 12:8 states the many gifts that God has given to the church and on leadership it tells us to take it seriously – to lead diligently.
Whatever the future holds, I open myself up to God’s leading to fulfil his plan for my life. I intend to fully allow him to help me in using the time here to tap into my passions, unleash my dreams so that I can live the life he always meant for me to live.
I am thankful to God for those who have helped me to fully persevere through obstacles, set-backs and discouragements. I cannot thank God enough for my spiritual director Breda Ludik (A minister in the Dutch Reformed Church) who has been my constant tower of spiritual support.
Please pray that in the next 5 months God will help me to break any self- imposed limitations that have sifted my potential; overcome fear, intimidation,worry, self-doubt; help me to discern my passion, purpose and dreams; to stir up and put into action the visionary qualities he has placed in me and re-vision my future in light of Jesus’ words that “With God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Will you also participate with me in my vision and mission and this work which God has called me to do by investing your prayers and the resources God has given you? Your support will be a part of a much larger spiritual vision and fruitfulness in extending the Kingdom of God. I pray that your giving will be as David states in Psalm 1:3 “trees planted by the streams of water which yield their fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever you do prosper.”
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learn is that my work here is not fruitful unless I am in constant fellowship with Christ. It is in relationship with him and the right relationship with others that God can bring out the best in me, without that all my efforts are in vain – they are lifeless.
John 15:5 states; “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I remain in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Psalm 27 also states “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”
This is reminding me that everything I do and receive is a gift from God and not my own achievements. I have nothing to offer God except what he has enabled me to do.
“You did not choose me, I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.“ (John 15:16)
In Christ . Karen