One of my favourite weekends of the year, when i’ve been privileged enough to be a part of it [which is quite often!], is the weekend known as October Leadership.

i have been part of at least ten of them and spoken on about 8 of those and it has never failed to be a life [and hopefully school etc] transforming weekend.

Run by Scripture Union, the purpose of October Leadership has been gathering together the Christian Union committees from the various high school around Cape Town and training up the leaders to lead the Christian groups and impact their schools for the year to come.

The two pictures above are of October Leadership as i remember it to be, 7 to 10 years ago, when we had the campsite at close to full capacity with close to 20 different schools represented, and then camp this weekend which must have been about half the size.

[Apparently last year they only had about 30 people and only had to make use of the top half of the campsite]

With the theme of Live Out Loud [LOL, but not really] this year felt like another significant time of inspiration, challenge, opportunity to deal with the crap in our lives holding us back and being handed the question, “WHAT IF?”. Inviting the young people to start to imagine and dream and wonder – what if God pitched up* at your school? What would it look like if the kingdom of heaven really broke into your school in a big and real way?

[* where by ‘pitched up’ i am not suggesting for a second that God ever left but for me the idea of God doing some discernible and very noticeable work]

So i have no doubt that it was a significant weekend for a number of the people who attended. Hopefully everyone in different ways.

But, during worship on Friday night, i did something i really don’t do all that often. [We’re talking once every ten years, if that, although i would be more than okay if it was more]

I started to cry. 

Looking around at the people who were there, it was almost more obvious to me who was not there. My old high school, Westerford, was one of the schools that was not there. S.A.C.S. and Bishops and i think Wynberg Boys were not there. Rondebosch boys was represented by one person. Most of the schools from the Stellenbosch and Somerset West side. Parel Vallei. Fish Hoek. Many more…

The worship session followed a time when the young people had gathered in their CU committee groups and written down a little bit of their current reality and they shared that with the big group. What added to my breakdown was hearing from some CU groups that used to be really huge and influential in their schools who now had more people on their committee than attending meetings. Listening to at least three schools that had to bribe people with biscuits or chips to come to their meetings. Schools represented that didn’t even have a Christian group of any kind.

It was quickly obvious to us that something had gone wrong. Someone somewhere had dropped the ball. Somewhere along the line, people had just started taking this camp for granted or had just not had a clue about the significance of it. And these poor kids [and many of those not represented and possibly a bunch of schools in the Western Cape who have struggling, dying or non-existent Christian groups] had been caught in the crossfire.


Val and i had a bunch of conversations about a lot of the reasons that may have led to this and hopefully i can tempt her into writing a post to express some of them more eloquently than i did. What resulted was that she ended up doing the last talk this morning and just hitting it out of the park in terms of confession and being able to name some of the things and being able to inspire, challenge, encourage and hopefully give these young people something to work with.

God showed up [as He does when you create space for Him and invite Him and step out of the way] but it should have been such a more significant weekend for a whole lot more individuals and schools represented and something needs to change to get us back there. Who in the Western Cape will stand in the gap to help Daryl Henning [old mate of mine who has just become the leader of the SU work in the Western Cape and who i am so grateful for and know has some great plans in mind to head things in the right direction] and others lead this thing back to a great place? i have heard that Schools United are doing some great vibes and there are some cool youth ministries and leaders around. But the legacy of strong schools ministry feels like something that should not be let go too easily.

The one passage that followed us around the weekend and is one of the inspiring pieces we held onto as we said our goodbyes and moved out was this passage from Ezekiel 37:

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”