Category: friends and enemas


oh we Christians can be a hated bunch. and rightly so in way too many times and spaces [although almost always when we say or do things that aren't particularly Christ-following in nature]

this week i was called a ‘reprobate’, told i have no spiritual teeth [i am not quite sure what that means but i think i was meant to be offended] , a ‘coward pastor’ and i think there was an insinuation that i am evil [when i said i was going to watch a movie with friends, the response that followed was ‘Even the evil love their friends and family.’ [and all this from someone who calls herself a 'fellow believer'] all because i mentioned on facebook that i didn’t feel i had the authority to share effectively on the situation in Gaza because i am not up to speed on everything that is happening there.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [John 13.34-35 New International Version]

this did not feel like that.

last nite, tbV and i attended a wedding of some friends of ours in Americaland… this is four days before we leave the country where we have been living and working in non-profits and return to South Africa… also about two months ago they weren’t even engaged… there was an engagement and then a sense of ‘You’re leaving when?’ and then a scurrying to make a wedding happen so that we could be there before we left for SA. i was invited to MC at the reception after the wedding and we just got to spend a fun and fondu-filled evening with church friends and especially be there for a significant life event for some friends we have gotten to know and love over here.

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13.34-35 English Standard Version]

this felt a lot like that.

on the way home from the wedding, my beautiful wife Val told me a story of the way that some friends of ours really went above and beyond in terms of showing love to another friend of ours who was in a really bad place and feeling completely low. a welcome at the airport with some of her significant and favourite things and a week of just showering her with love and friendship and special attention. in a completely tired and shattered state, driving us home after the wedding and just so ready for bed, this story lifted my spirits immensely and gave me huge hope and was really not the hugest surprise knowing the people in question.

34 A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. [John 13.34-35 American Standard Version]

arrive home from the party and discover an envelope that a friend and someone who had worked alongside me in the youth ministry had slipped into my hand at Friday’s farewell party that other friends of ours [that we hadn't even spent crazy time with] had offered to throw for us – open it and read amazing and encouraging words in a card but also an immensely generous gift from someone who had spent so much of last year out of a job… catch a glimpse of the photo/message book that another friend of ours [again, someone who we hadn't spent a lot of time with] put together for us to map out significant parts of our journey in Oakland and remind us of the people we loved and who loved us along the way… close my hand around the wad of cash my bossman gave me towards buying a new computer when we get home [before this one completely catches fire and burns up from overheating] and smile again at the pics of our visit to a place called ‘Bacon Bacon’ which could only be the best place to take me to celebrate the end of working for him…

34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” [The Message]

all of those things felt a lot like this.

don’t get me wrong. there are definitely times to call people out and to challenge people when they are not living up to the message they are proclaiming. Jesus had a field day with the Pharisees and the people in the temple and on many occasions even His own disciples. there is a time for harsh words and sometimes even harsh actions.

But the first 3 verses of 1 Corinthians 13, remind us of this important principle:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Which is followed by this reminder of the kind of choice Love that often takes a little bit more effort, and personal cost, and perseverance, to achieve:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

If the person or the thing or the event, does not have love, then it is not of God.

The Love of God is the tattoo of the Christian. It is the mark by which we will be known and recognised.

It will hopefully do the job of helping attract other people towards God.

Who is the Source of all that is Love and Good and Right.

Thank you to all of those who have loved us well in the whole of life, but especially in these last few weeks and days… it has been muchly appreciated!

A few weeks ago, tbV and our two housemates Aaron and Sarah went for a meal and games-playing evening [yes, Settlers of Catan] to our friends from church, Mike and Leah.

Aaron and Mike have at least one thing in common in that they both work in what must be one of the best jobs in the world – teaching young children engineering concepts through Lego [or Legos if you're Americanese!].

So before we went to visit we came up with a plan to legonap some of Mike’s lego people and hold them hostage for a bit of fun.

Sadly, when we got to their house his Lego men were all safely hidden away and so our plan seemed thwarted.

Until i had to make a restroom call and met these friendly creatures:

adultducks

The wedding ducks were perched on the top of the Smiths toilet and so i secretly pocketed them and let the others know as we drove home that the mission had not been completely compromised.

We then got to work with TYPING [of course] a ransom letter and taking pics of their ducks being guarded by Aaron’s Ninja Lego men:

Sent it to them. Great laugh. And you’d think the story would end there, right?

Well it was until Val and Aaron and i went to play games at our friend Bruce’s house. Great evening of games, amazing snacks, and good company and all going relatively routinely, until i happened to need the bathroom and when i went i happened to spot these guys [as part of a larger group of five on a rack in the shower]:

smallducksphone

Pretty familiar-looking right… that is until you see this other picture taken with my phone for scale appreciation:

dckswithphone

Wait, What? Did i step into Inception here? No you did not. Turns out Bruce and his family have a set of 5 ducks, including two very similiar wedding ducks, but of the little tiny baby duck-sized variety…

So naturally i pocketed them [for a guy big on honesty, i don't seem to have too many qualms for stealing it seems...] and took them home and we came up with plan B.

bothsets

Which involved another coincidental dinner party at Mike and Leah’s where i left the two tiny wedded ducks on their toilet…

And then another regular games night at Bruce’s where i ‘SNUCK’ the two giant ducks into the throng:

newfamilyducksYeah, they just fit right in there, huh?

I’m not sure if the moral to this story is ‘Don’t invite Brett and Val to your house for games’ or maybe just that you should look a little better after your toys and play companions when you do.

All i am suggesting is that life is too short not to ‘kidnap a set of plastic ducks from your friends while playing board games at their house and creating a ransom note from letters cut from magazines and typing the envelope address and then kidnapping a different set of smaller ducks from your other friend’s house while playing board games and switching both sets of ducks and replacing them at the opposite plastic duck house’… or something…

Do you have any similiar stories involving friends’ figurines, stuffed animals or works of art? i would love to hear them…

 

A community of friends who pool their money to meet the needs of people they know.

That is what Common Change is all about. And that is the non-profit that my wife, tbV, and i work with and have been for the last year and a half.

Almost every time we explain the concept to people and they get it, it excites them and they want to know more.

But many people in that boat feel like they are the only one of their friend group who might be interested in that idea.

IF THIS IS YOU, THEN CONSIDER HOSTING A GENEROSITY DINNER?

generosity

One of the ways we have seen people really grab on to the idea of how Common Change works is through hosting what we call, ‘Generosity Dinners’.

# Invite some friends round for a meal that you are hosting

# each guest brings a donation to add to the group ‘pot’

# after the meal, each person has the chance to share a need of someone they know

# after a lengthy discussion and whittling down process, a decision is made

# the whole of the group ‘pot’ goes towards the need that was decided upon

# a follow-up email a few weeks later shares some feedback on how the gift went down.

Common Change presently covers groups in the United States and we are working with people in the UK, Costa Rica, Canada and South Africa to see what it will take in those countries to run groups there. But a Generosity Dinner can happen in any country in the world. It really just takes an invitation to some friends, the hosting of a meal and then an evening of sharing some money and meeting needs of people you love.

It is that easy. What is holding you back? This could be the start of a transformational season of you and your friends starting to think a little bit differently about the way you interact with your money and resources.

Contact us now at support@commonchange.com to find out more about how you can throw your first Generosity Dinner or click here for more information.

 

[Money certainly seems to be a topic we rarely speak much about - for a range of other Taboo Topics different people have shared their stories on, click here]

 

yesterday i attended a baptism and family picnic that our church family, Re:Generation, holds twice a year…

it is one of the highlights for us [and not just because of the quantity of fine meat they prepare - these okes know how to barbecue braai!] because of the feeling of family celebration and togetherness that tends to come out of it… and just a much less rushed time of being able to hang with church folks than the normal sunday in-out vibe that often occurs in the busyness of the day…

this one was a special day as my mate Nate Chamberlain [or Nate Dawg as we call him in this particular piece of blog] was getting baptised and also because he asked me [last minute so good thing i wasn't wearing jeans as David 'the Bartaman' was] to accompany him into the water and be part of his baptism.

baptising my friends is one of my favourite things to do, and something i highly recommend to any and all followers of Jesus.

one thing i really liked was Albert [main pastor and my church bossman]‘s approach to the baptism, inviting anyone who wanted to, not just to come out and be a part of the baptism, but to ‘perform the baptism’ if they wanted – “After all there is nothing more spiritual or special about me doing it”. 

nathangoingunder

that feels like the kind of vibe Jesus had – being accused by the spiritual leaders of the day of not being spiritual enough, but simply choosing the route of being practical and simple and clear to those around him.

the temple was full of a lot of ritual and law and spectacle – Jesus sat around a table with some friends, broke some bread and drank some wine and said, ‘Do this as you remember Me.’

the disciples around Him and other adults tried to keep the meetings orderly and focused on the important teachings of the rabbi – but Jesus stopped ‘the meeting’ and called the children forward and hung out with them – He took time to speak to the women and the lepers and other sick people normally kept to the fringes [out of the way of the important 'man of God']

He was accused of hanging out with the prostitutes and the tax collectors…

KEEPING IT REAL

i can’t imagine Jesus baptising someone in a baptismal font [no offence to any of you who use baptismal fonts - it is a practical way to get something necessary done] over a river or a beach that they happened to be walking by – ‘the thing’ always seemed to trump ‘the procedure of the thing’ and ‘the look of the thing’. i think there is something we can learn from that.

i remember baptising my buddy Mark in his mom’s FREEZING swimming pool on a farmland outside the city.

i remember baptising my friend Kirsten on the beach with a small bunch of her friends gathered round to embrace us as we got out of the water.

i remember baptising my friend Megan in knee deep water [shallowest baptism ever!] at Camp Wortelgat [literally 'Carrot Hole' or maybe more accurately 'Carrot Bumhole'] after walking and walking and walking trying to find deep enough water and then eventually [as the crowd gathered on the edge of the lake started resembling ants] issuing the command of ‘Kneel, we’re gonna do this here!’

i remember baptising my friend Lindri in the narrowest of ICE COLD streams [i see a pattern here] as we also walked and searched a long time to try and find deep enough water, having climbed over a fence and stumbled around bushes and over rocks with a dedicated group of friends to try and find the perfect spot in Stellenbosch.

baptismal font baptisms are fine, but there is something that feels that slight bit more real or authentic to me about doing it ‘in the wild’ or simply in the place where the water is.

GO AND DO LIKEWISE

the reason i encourage people to baptise their friends is because Jesus did that.

at the end of Matthew, just before He leaves to go and join His Father again, Jesus tells His followers to go and make disciples of all nations and to baptise them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to teach them everything I have taught you.

that command was never to the priests [excepting when in Hebrews we realise that each and every one of us who follows Jesus is now a priest] or to the religious leaders of the day – it was to all of us – nothing excites me more than seeing someone baptise their friend who they led to Jesus Christ. this should be happening with all of us on a more regular basis.

Who is the person in your life that you would most like to baptist?

And how are you living out your Jesus story to them in a way that might make that seem like an enticing prospect one day?

caleydaniels2What a shock some of you reading this will get when you discover that my dad, yes, my biological father, is coloured.

“But you look so white!” many have noted. Well done. It is true – I am a mixed baby, although I got the paler skin of our mother while my brother has many a time been compared to a Mexican. We’ve heard some interesting guesses of our ethnicity over the years: Portuguese, Brazilian, something Mediterranean. So let’s clear it up: what/who am I?

Being born into a democratic country, racial discrimination is something I have heard more about than experienced personally, although there are one or two incidences that have stuck in my memory. I distinctly remember being stared at in a restaurant while travelling through some backward town on our way to the Cape, no doubt due to the shades of our faces. I recall being disturbed by this as a 5 year old and asking why everyone was looking at us. My dad winked at me and said it was because they had never seen such beautiful people in their lives. It’s only now, nearly 20 years later, that I realize how blessed I am to have so tame an experience as my only one of racial discrimination.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town and attend an international school, so the first time I realized that my parents are of 2 different races was in grade 3 when a fellow 9 year old curiously asked me, “Caley, why is your dad coloured?” The heads of the other girls we were sitting with snapped around to look at me, as if they would now be able to see a distinctive difference in my features now that they knew I was not white. The defensive response “He isn’t,” flew out of my mouth for no other reason than to make them stop staring. But it made me think, ‘Why is my dad coloured?’

I didn’t talk to my parents until a few years later when someone told me that people who don’t “stick with their own kind” create “half-breed children who aren’t accepted by society”, as if anyone who was not of one race was something less that human. This was probably the harshest word spoken against me, or at least the one I took the hardest because it came from the mouth of a friend, and it was enough to make me talk to my parents about it. I think another reason it hurt so much was because I was brought up post-apartheid so, naturally finding no fault in cross-cultural friendships, I was shocked to find that people could still be pretty ignorant about that stuff.

The common factor in these 2 incidences is that they both made me feel ugly, and as if there was something wrong with me because I was different in some way to the rest of my peers. I don’t know if other mixed kids would agree, but I think of it now as an attack on my identity and something that almost made me ashamed of the heritage my parents had suffered to let us have.

I believed this more and more firmly as I went through high school, and I began to look back at that moment on the playground with contempt; why would people point out the coloured side of my family, asking why my dad is coloured as opposed to asking why my mom is white? As if “white” was the “correct” race to be and everything else was questionable. It made me extremely protective of my dad to the point of referring to myself as coloured when people asked me. But that’s wrong too; I cannot deny one race group because I am truly both of them: my father’s coiled-haired, dark-featured daughter, my mother’s pale eyed child.

This sense of uncertainty I had about what race I am has hardly bothered me too deeply because it has never been an issue in my family. Our parents brought my brother and me up as Christians, so we know that our true identity is in Christ and not in the box marked “other” on official documents. We weren’t raised in a “white” or “coloured” culture, but instead in one that honours Jesus. Although I moved away from that in my early teenage years (hence the shame and the offense and the extreme pride), I find now, being in a relationship with Him and walking with Him constantly, that my love for God has made me love who He has made me.

To answer the initially posed question; I am…  living, following the example of my legendary parents, by the belief that we are all of one race: Human, and every diversity we have thereafter is something to be celebrated. I am also everything that God says I am: loved and precious and redeemed by the blood of Jesus and forgiven and covered by His grace.

I am also part of a family that can aptly be referred to as the multi-culti-crew. What heroes.

Caleydaniels

[For some stories of couples who are involved in mixed race or culture relationships, click here]

[For more stories and conversations about race from a number of different perspectives, click here]

me

Here are simply a collection of stories from people who have lived in countries or areas of diversity and have a race theme to a part of their story which they have so graciously decided to share with us:

Meet Deborah Dowlath [Trinidad and Tobago]

Meet Kevin Lloyd James Lok [South Africa]

Meet Caley Daniels [South Africa]

Meet Susan Hayden [reblog of 'Disco Pants & a Mountain' post]

kevinlok

 

What makes a person?

What makes me, me?

For me I’ve struggled with identity for my entire Life – one of the biggest struggles I’ve had over my identity is the one over ‘race’ (now many would consider it strange for a white guy to struggle with identity over race and don’t get me wrong – I’ve never thought I am not white) the reasons being that I was brought up (My mom assisted hugely by our Domestic worker Vivian Mogotsi, who I would often be left with when my Mom was busy sorting out household business, fetching or dropping my brothers off from extramural activities etc. nearly until the end of my primary school education) in a home where though I was not taught to hate people of a different ‘race’, I observed as my parents who didn’t hate people of colour made comments that did not show a love for them either.

At primary school race was not an issue for me as my group of friends represented a large portion of the rainbow nation and would often hang out with my mates regardless of colour. My notion that colour was just that – colour- didn’t last long into High school as friends started to separate themselves into cultural and racial groups, and soon after people began to discriminate (not always openly) against those that were different (while those of the same ‘race’ who dared to venture against the norm being classed as ‘coconuts’, ‘wiggas’ etc.), for me I couldn’t fit into any one of those groups and was thrown into a friendship with three guys (one white and two black) who for a time also did not fully fit into the mould that was pressed upon us. After grade nine we started integrating into different groups and though still friends, walls started being built as the groups of friends’ views and opinions started having an impact. It was in grades 10-12 in my History class that I saw the class divided by ‘racial’ lines in discussions (sometimes more like debates) about apartheid and discrimination – and we learned of how people (across the ‘racial spectrum’) had been taught by their parents/families/elders/communities to either hate, fear, manipulate and look down upon(or up to as superior) ; or befriend, respect, take time to know, understand and view as equals those of other ‘races’.

I have throughout my life struggled within as I’ve had conflicting messages from parents, friends and society telling me who I can love, be friends with or respect; and who should be by enemy, despised and looked down upon. For a time some bad experiences with friends of different ‘races’ helped me choose the easy path (that of lumping all people of a ‘race’ into a stereotype) of being a racist (if that of a closet racist) for a time – until I realised I had been hurt by people regardless of ‘race’ and been loved by and loved regardless of race.

Now I see colour, but I do not make assumptions or judgements on a person because of ‘race’ but I also understand that there have been hurts and wrongs inflicted upon those of other ‘races’ by white people, I admit that some of my ancestors (not all – my heritage is as mixed as they come) probably had a hand in some of that, I admit to the fact that those who still suffer from the effects of Apartheid, I admit that I to some degree have been privileged by what has happened in the past (regardless of the fact that I was born toward the end of apartheid).

But I choose to stand apart and not let how others may view me (whether it is with hatred, resentment, disgust or fear) change me, I choose to love others and help where I can to right the wrongs – even if I did not have a hand in causing them (as best as I can on a personal level and with others), I choose not to fight only the injustices and hurts inflicted by my ‘race’ upon other ‘races’ but to fight against those seeking to cast down, enslave, hurt, or discriminate against anyone.

The reason I am able to choose those things is because of Vivian Mogotsi and other people who not only showed me that love has no borders but pointed me towards a love that I still struggle to comprehend at times (The love that God has for all of us) and have helped me find my identity in God, in whose image we are all made, and who loves all of us so much that He gave His only son to die so that ALL who believe in Him will have eternal life John3:16 (and that not for some or in differing levels according to race) and so that there would no longer be division Colossians 3:11

All of these things (whether good or bad), all of the choices I’ve made and will make, all of the people who have cared enough to look deeper than the skin, how God created me and continues to lead and grow me – that is what makes me.

So if there are some points I would like you to take from this here they are:

#Skin colour does not make anyone less or more of a human being

#Hurt-people, hurt people (No-one can end pain by inflicting more – things need to be spoken of and dealt with in love)

#Love knows no boundaries

#God Loves all – so should we (note God is love, but Love is not God – He is way more than love, and our definition of love can’t even begin to fit what He is – 1 corinthians 13)

#What makes a person is who they choose to be (circumstance determines your viewpoint not your choices)

[For other stories and conversations on different aspects of Race-related things, click here]

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