I don’t really enjoy blogging. To me it’s like writing a sermon. It takes too much out of me and I only do it if I am asked to or have to. I have written many blogs and find every reason not to post them, some I have lost accidentally or intentionally. But like a sermon, a blog is not necessarily intended for me, well so I would like to believe.
This morning as I was anxiously thinking about my visa application I remembered a simple yet profound prayer I prayed at age 15. It’s a prayer I forgot when I made the decision to go to Bible College and during the 7 painful years of vocational search that followed after graduating from the London School of Theology with a degree in Christian Life & Ministry including a diploma in Christian counselling. I remembered this prayer a few months prior to my decision to go to South Africa on mission in 2014. From what I can recalled, it wasn’t like Hannah’s prayer when she prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish then made a vow in 1 Samuel 1: 10 -11 or like Paul’s prayer in the letter to the Colossians regarding his labour for the church. I would like to think it was. It was deeper than the hours I spent praying and weeping to God when I felt a call to go to Bible College to seek out and understand my faith. It was deeper than the chaos I felt and the moments I spent praying, crying and discerning when I felt collared to be a vicar in the Church of England. It’s probably one of my most still and intimate moment with God at age 15. It was in 1982. Now you know my age. I had just moved to Kingston and a new school. I was the only Christian in my household at the time and I was searching for something other than what my Anglican communion had to offer. I had become a part of a local Pentecostal church, experienced being filled with the Holy Spirit and I even went as far as doing local door to door evangelism which I enjoyed as believe it or not I was a very shy teenager. I remember my Mom telling me then that if I did not stop these frequent visits to church she would lock me out at nights. She thought my visits to church were to cover up some ungodly activities I was engaged in– seeing boys. Oh I wish! As Lady Saw – the great dancehall Queen now Evangelist Marion Hall would say “Man a di least ah mi problem! Mi worry bout de coming of God not the coming of man.” I was so determined that I told my Mom to lock me out as I felt I was being persecuted for Christ but my sister and brother always came to my rescue by passing the key through the window or opening the door whenever I was out late at church. I was searching for a way to anchor my life in God, to be His voice, His hands and feet in this world. It was then while listening to the news on the radio about South Africa, while my sister and her friends were dancing outside to Michael Jackson and learning his latest moves (as most children were probably doing then) that I asked God to use me one day to impact South Africa. I probably didn’t know what I was praying at the time but it was a simple prayer from the heart.
It’s interesting that I forgot this prayer. I don’t know why God chose to reveal it to when He did, after all the hours spent receiving spiritual direction and the years spent in searching. God sure does work in mysterious ways and chose to remind me after all the noise and chaos – at the right time.
Perhaps in those years He was preparing me for South Africa. In fact even during my time at Bible College I had no desire to do mission in Africa. I did everything to avoid an invitation to the World Prayer group for Africa and instead set up a group for the Caribbean because I wanted to prove a point and I felt the Caribbean needed prayer too. In my first year I avoided the African/Caribbean group for international students until I was asked to lead it. The only thought of South Africa was empty promises about visiting my South African brother and fellow alumni when he returned home. which is still yet to happen. I remember even refusing to buy the Operation World prayer book published by Operation Mobilisation! – the organisation I will be doing mission with in South Africa, because I thought it was too heavy and expensive and I was convinced God has not called me to Africa! After Bible College and redundancy from work I found myself frequently visiting a South African wholesaler (Jumbo Retailers) in the next street in an industrial estate near my home. I was buying and eating South African food because I hate shopping, I no longer had a company car and I could get there on my bicycle. Little did I know that God had a plan. He also has a sense of humour.
So if like many you have numerous questions and thoughts about my mission to SA… Why South Africa? Why are you so desperate to go to South Africa? Why not Jamaica? Why not England? Africa is rich! Africa doesn’t need missionaries! There is a lot of work here to be done in England! You are running away! Please remember it is deeper than that. I’ve done all my running of marathons and using this as a defence mechanism to avoid ordination plus with my present ankle predicament I won’t get very far. And anyway, Africa would probably be the last place I would run to. If anywhere, it would be Jamaica. I much rather like the idea of sitting under a palm tree, sipping rum punch and listening to reggae music. In fact in all this, I was trying to run to God.
It is because of that simple yet profound prayer I prayed at age 15 when I asked God to use me one day to impact this nation. It was the reason why I made a trip in 2014 to South Africa and it is still the reason why after almost 2 years of returning to the UK I still have a heart for South Africa and strongly believe that God has called me to serve there.
To those of you who are searching, who feel like you are at a crossroad and trying to discern God’s calling on your life; who knows, there may be a prayer you prayed that you’ve forgotten about. Trust God to reveal this to you at the right time. The waiting may seem long but God is always on time and it is usually when He knows you are ready to embrace that calling. Here’s a further encouragement from Jeremiah 6:16.
This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls”.
Stand, Look, Ask, Walk. I’ve come up with an acronym for this (SLAW). Notice that Jeremiah did not say Run but Walk. I’m walking! I’m slawing! Not sure if that will work as my recent research tells me that ‘slaw’ is late 18th century word from Dutch sla, shortened from salade ‘salad’.Anyway I hope you get the message. Obviously I’ll be flying not walking to South Africa:-)
For more information on my Mission to South Africa and how you can support me prayerfully and financially, please visit http://missiontosa.yolasite.com/