Tag Archive: common ground


last nite i was invited by some new friends we’ve made here to join the Oakland City Watch team in a walk they do around the neighborhood [we live on 61st Ave and we walked around the streets closer to 90th so not crazy far away] that has three messages for the people of the community:

# We care!

# We want to see an end to violence, especially gun violence!

# How can we help you?

so a roomful of maybe 40 to 50 people of all shapes and sizes [although apart from one grade seven boy i felt like the next youngest there so a bunch of 30 years and older people mostly] – black, white, hispanic, korean – from a variety of different churches, put on these white windbreaker identification jackets and armed with fliers that explained to anyone who asked what we were about, we walked the streets for maybe an hour, waving at cars who responded to the “Honk if you want an end to gun violence” signs and engaging with anyone who was interested as we walked past them. No specific message except that of unity and peace in the neighborhood and that we were hoping merely by our presence to make a difference [apparently since they started these walks 6 months ago, murders have decreased in the areas they have walked through]

this brief video on You Tube gives a glimpse into the heart behind the walk and introduces some of the hardcore leaders [mostly pastors from different churches] who are organising this thing.

“we want it to be tangible”

“more than just words from a tv from a pulpit”

“we want to be persistent. this is something we’re doing every week not just for one night”

“we don’t want to fight against the young men but against the violence itself”

as i walked the streets last nite, when i wasn’t engaging in incredibly life-giving conversation with this big African American ex-pastor called Ben who heads up the team [and who i found out lives a street away from me, so hoping for deeper connection there] and our new friend, Matt, i was thinking of Kensington where we stayed in Philly and how something like this could work so well there [and of my friend Derrick Gregory who i have already been in conversation with about the possibility of him thinking more through the possibilities it holds]

as i write this i think of my friends Sheralyn and Sammi who live in Woodstock in Cape Town and of the Pedersens and others who are doing a kind of organic church in the fringes of the city and how something like this might look for them.

i think of areas of huge gangsterism and violence like mannenberg and hanover park and wonder if the church there got mobilised to start doing something similar.

and am brought back to the conversation of stability i had with Ben and those conversations which i’ve been having with tbV for the last two years inspired by the monks of the Benedictine monastery we visited while staying at the Simple Way, and even the idea of incarnation [living amongst the people you are working with and ministering to] fostered by the Simple Way and my time in Kayamandi

i read a quote this week that said something like church is not the place you go to, but the place you go out from and that kind of feels like the strong surgings that i have within me right now [not really anything new, just a new flame being lit on this particular fire] and a loud powerful shout to the church of Cape Town [yes, you Common Ground and Christ Church Kenilworth and 100 others] to take seriously the need for the church to be outside of the building and on the streets if we are going to make any discernible difference at all to the state of things back home.

or wherever you are reading this. this idea is so ridiculously simply and just needs a small group of people to put their hands up and go, ‘hey, that’s something practical we can do right here.’

hope for south africa

#1. you have a reason to go somewhere else – i understand for some people if they are living in fear and feel like for family and children’s sake that they need to be somewhere else then sure, maybe you need to do that. Val and i went to the Simple Way because we felt God was leading us there and we are now part of Relational Tithe/Common Change as we feel like it is a God thing to be doing – but apart from that, if it was solely up to me i would choose to be in South Africa and even now, the stuff we are involved in i know will benefit South Africa/South Africans [at first via internet/ideas/stories but hopefully directly at some stage]

#2. if you’re a whiner. i get SO tired of hearing people whine and moan about South Africa. If that’s you and it is the overwhelming sense of your current attitude or state of being, then maybe you need to leave and go somewhere else. Chances are you will find something to whine about there, but it may be that you can find a place where you won’t be helpless or paralysed because of all the negativity you see or experience.

Those are the reasons. For me, anyways, and i know other people may think differently and that’s fine, but i really believe that if you are not going somewhere else for a specific reason then stay in South Africa. But be part of the solution.

I really loved being back in South Africa for the last two and a half months even more than i thought i would. i was inspired by the churches i visited and the people there and hearing some of the initiatives that were being done. i was encouraged and inspired by meeting people like Marci and Nathalie from Common Good [NPO linked to Common Ground church in Cape Town] and by chatting to my friend Godfrey from TheatreSports and hearing about his involvement with Sea Point High School and the Darling Project as well as hearing what is happening with uThando leNkosi and iKhayalethemba and a whole bunch of other projects, initiatives, relationships and so on. all around me there are such tremendous signs of hope and so it bummed me out when everyone got so caught up in the Oscar Pistorius saga to the point of celebrity obsession when there is so much greatness happening to be able to put ones life into.

everyone doesn’t need to do everything. but everyone needs to do something. and if each person starts connecting to one person, or family, or a project or ministry, then suddenly the news starts to change. it really is possible and positive momentum breeds more of the same.

so if you are already part of doing something, invite someone else to hear about it, to come visit, to get involved. and if you’re not, then find a person or a place to get involved – something that connects with your gifts and skills or maybe just your heart and time…

but please stop the whining, or really, just go. this country needs to be filled with people who believe.

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