Tag Archive: uthando lenkosi


 

before

An empty wall, except for the occasional message graffiti tag that has drawn attention away from the desperate need for a paint job.

Mandela Day and the creation of opportunities under the 67 minutes banner for the general public to get involved in goodness.

A creative sister-in-law with a vision, a plan and template presenting the basic idea of blocked design she was going for.

mosaic

 

A raggedy bunch of volunteers from churches, Improv groups, Facebook friends, children and even strangers and neighbours who happened to walk past and see what was happening and decided to get involved.

wall9This is how a group of us chose to spend out Mandela Day. A little overspent on the 67 minutes [which means we get to take it easier next year?] as most of us were there for the entire morning but jumping in on the opportunity to be a part of painting the outside wall of the uThando leNkosi Place of Safety for children that tbV and i have been involved with since it began many years ago.

In some ways i’m not the biggest fan of the idea of Mandela Day which i wrote a bit about on a 1Africa post over here, with my hesitation being more on the side of needing a day as a reason for us to do good as opposed to just being more doing-good-naturally people. But at the same time, sometimes it can be fun to have ‘an excuse’ to get a bunch of mates together to do a project in the community that is going to help out such a good cause.

It was personally so meaningful for me that some of the members of my Improv team, Improguise, showed up [with family in tow] with carloads of resources and much enthusiasm to get the crowd going and create some of the most stunning designs and we are looking forward to Monday’s Improv show [which you should totally come and watch] as we will be donating the proceeds to uThando leNkosi as well. So we’re really hoping that will be a sold out show so that we can continue the good we were able to get involved in on Saturday.

wall2

All in all it was just a fun and vibey day and while there were definitely differing levels of skill and expertise i was pretty happy with my punching-above-the-belt-creations that i managed to produce:

brettwall

First block pic taken while i was still busy on it: work in progress and second of course had to have my tag snuck in

As long as i didn’t take them in at the same moment as being reminded of the real pros at work:

wall6

 

And of course a behind-the-scenes typical pose for my dad who grabbed a job no-one else wanted to do and quietly went about it:

garden

Excellent day. So easy really. Big thanks to everyone who came out to help and especially those who just saw what was happening and got involved [slightly less thanks to the one lady who grabbed some of our paint when no-one was looking and walked down the road and around the corner and painted ’67 minutes of service for Madeba Day’ [yes, spelling] on someone else’s outside wall]

wallz

Did you get up to anything for Mandela Day? i would love to hear the stories and i would love to see you and a bunch of friends or family coming and supporting us on Monday night so that we can sell out our Improv show and give another gift to this house that is doing some great stuff. 

 

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bare feet church

i was busy painting my block for the uThando leNkosi wall painting project as part of our 67 minutes and a bit for Mandela Day yesterday when things got a little interesting.

A lady i had just met, assuming i guess, that we were a bunch of christians helping out with this project, decided to break some ice, by turning to those closest to her and asking, ‘What church do you go to?’

My friend Megan, one of my fellow improvisers, who had jumped at the chance to get involved, proudly exclaimed, “i am an enthusiastic atheist!” or something to that effect.

Not wanting to appear completely thrown by that little speed bump, my fellow painter declared, “Well that sounds like fun.” Again, my day-after-the-effect paraphrase. Painting resumed.

wall2

TAKE TWO

A while later Megan had moved on to another part of the wall and my new friend decided to try again and so i started to explain the most recent dynamic of visiting a bunch of churches since returning to Cape Town as opposed to particularly committing to any one. The conversation moved to the fact that she had Catholic roots and what did i feel about the Catholic church? i explained that i believe that the rest of the church has a lot to learn from the Catholic church in terms of holiness and respect and awe for God with the tendency of more modern day churches to adopt more of a Jesus-is-my-buddy approach.

She seemed to resonate with this and said that the one thing she couldn’t stand about a lot of the other churches she had visited was the lack of respect. “I really can’t stand it when people don’t wear shoes for example.”

“I was a pastor for six years in a Vineyard church and i never wore shoes,” i quickly and gently responded.

By way of back-peddling, i guess, she said something about the need for honouring the space and the occasion, like for example, weddings.

“I have conducted three weddings and did each of them barefoot,” i responded.

i went on to explain how i did it intentionally, using the story of Moses and the burning bush and the idea of taking off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. The picture of a marriage being something that God sees as holy ground, despite how the world has typically done what it can to reduce the idea to something more me-focused and consumerist.

i can’t remember what happened next, but i don’t remember continuing that conversation and so she very well might have found another part of the wall that needed urgent attention.

barefoot in church

TRUTH OR TRADITION OR BOTH?

For those of us who are part of the church, i believe it is so important to regularly take a step back and look at the things we do [and possibly also the things we like and appreciate about what we do]

Are there things we do which are simply tradition, done because everyone always did them since that time the first person did them, but not necessarily biblical or Godly things? And should we perhaps stop doing some of those?

Are there things we don’t do that might be things that are really good to do according to God and the bible and the history of the church?

Are there some that maybe fall kinda in the middle – fun and good things to do but not particularly called for by God or the Bible and we are free to make a choice as to whether we want to keep doing them or not?

Do we question? Do we critique? Do we regularly test the things we do? What affect might they have on outsiders, on visitors? Do we take time to explain some of the weird stuff and traditions when people are visiting?

Does what happens on a Sunday [if that is when we meet together as church] strengthen, encourage, equip and empower us for the work of being the church for the rest of the week as we work, as we family, as we sport and as we relationship?

If so, let’s keep on with it… happy churching!

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.

psalm 11:

‘In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.”‘ [vs.1]

i love it. i have spoken on this very topic on many occasions. i call it – “Trust God, but have a backup plan.”

and it is how i see so many christians living their lives… say you are trusting God but just in case God doesn’t come through, make sure you have a backup plan ready just in case… so Peter, you and the disciples go and feed this crowd of people, but i am sending a runner to the local supermarket, just on the off chance that you get it wrong…

one place where i think differently from the majority of people it seems is in the area of insurance and medical plans and things like that which i personally have always viewed as ‘trust God, but have a backup plan’ mentality, but i do realise that because so many people think differently that it is worth not assuming that i am right and everyone else is wrong on the matter and so it is something i return to think about more often. the simple way community we live in has links with a thing called ‘Relational Tithe’ which works on the idea of a bunch of people pooling money together and then using it to meet the needs of the group and i definitely like the idea of that more because it adds community into the mix. but just wary, for the most part, on things i see as potentially ‘storing up treasures in heaven.’

and again like with Peter stepping out of the boat on to the water when Jesus called him, that was a risk but completely a valid one to take BECAUSE JESUS HAD CALLED HIM TO. for any of us to try and walk on water is stupid because we have not been given the go ahead to. but taking time to listen to the impossible things God calls us to [one such example being uThando leNkosi house of safety for kids which is a miracle born out of a number of different very risky steps of obedient faith] and then responding in obedience WITHOUT HAVING A BACKUP PLAN [because if God calls you to do something, you won’t need one] is an incredible way to live.

one of the hardest things to stomach during this process is that often the loudest voices trying to get you to quit or make backup plans are christian people, it’s not the atheists or agnostics – it is your church or your family or friends and probably out of good motivation of not wanting you to be hurt or embarrassed but misguided understanding of how trustworthy this God really is or that He has told you to do that particular thing. making sure it was God’s voice telling you rather than just a great crazy stupid idea you had by your own self is also key.

so if i am taking refuge in God, then i don’t need to be fleeing like a bird to the mountain.

or to put it another way, having a backup plan very likely means that i am not trusting God in the first place at all.

DREAM, AND HELP OTHERS REACH THEIRS

following on closely from helping others to laugh more and find their joy is to dream and be part of other people reaching theirs [especially those who maybe grew up thinking that they weren’t even allowed to dream] – this makes me think immediately of people and things like brendan, val and many others and uThando leNkosi place of safety [http://www.uthandolenkosi.co.za] of my friend heather wonnacott and linawo children’s home as well as Vision afriKa [formerly vision K before it expanded – http://www.visionafrika.com%5D in Stellenbosch and even the simple way scholarship programme we are involved with.

i think one of the biggest problems in the world is that too many people exist and not enough truly live. [as much as that sounds too similar to a cheesy movie tagline i think it is true]

the tagline of this blog is “sucking the marrow out of life” and my friend jon pointed out to me the other day that it could also be seen as a play on words of the opposite idea of “sucking the life out of something” – as kids, most of us get to live life to the full and be fully enthusiastic and excited about everything, as teens and young adults we set out to change the world with all energy, enthusiasm and optimism and then BOOM, somewhere along the line we come into contact with disillusioned adults who gave up and settled or got hurt or burnt along the way and most of us [those who get tired fighting it] fall into line and do likewise.

we exist. but we stop living. well ‘we’ is not a good word there cos i certainly refuse to do that. and so should you – it is never too late to start living again.

if you are in a place of doing what you do where you are simply because that is all you’ve ever done or felt you could, then STOP!!!

take time to dream, to ask some “what ifs” [if i could be doing anything in the world right now, what would it be? if i was pursuing the passion God has put on my heart in a certain area, what would it look like? which of the ‘least of these’ is God wanting me to have greater interaction with?] and then take a chance, risk it, step out of the boat if Jesus has called you onto the waves [matthew 14.22-33]

you only live once, so make sure that you LIVE once… every day.

the beautiful val [tbV] and i are in a place and a context that is often difficult or overwhelming or challenging or frustrating for a whole variety of different reasons, but one thing we know for sure is that we are where God wants us to be at the moment [and it is also a place and context that is often incredible and uplifting and exciting and challenging too] and that in itself is enough to move us from existment to life… after all Jesus says in john 10.10 that it is the enemy who steals, kills and destroys [our dreams and passions and hope and adventure and risk and and and] and yet Jesus came to bring life and life to the full.

consider making this an evolution of your life in 2012 because… and really hear this… why not?

for the next powerful one on offence-taking click here.

one of my favourite freaky stories in the bible [and there’s lots of them – 2 kings 2.23 story of elisha and the baldyhead bear-mauling incident] is the story of elijah found in 1 kings 17.

now a bunch of things happen here – there is elijah being fed miraculously by ravens, there is the miracle of the flour and oil of the widow not running out and then the widow’s son mysteriously dies.

it is one of those crisis of faith moment stories many of us have experienced – having just witnessed this crazy miracle of the continuing food supply, the widow is now accusing the prophet [and God by association] of having it in for her.

what comes next is incredibly dangerous and as with so many bible stories, we have lost the edge of the danger because we know how it ends – shadrach, meshach and abednego risking being tossed in the fiery furnace, daniel risking the lion’s den, david heading out to take on the giant goliath armed with a slingshot, gideon with his muchly reduced army taking on an army whose tents were described as ‘swarms of locusts’ [judges 6.5] armed with torches and musical instruments and peter stepping out of the boat on to the water…

we know how they end so we read them and get excited by God and what He has done, but i think it is important to go back and read this stories as the person really desperately hoping that God is going to make a dramatic appearance…

so you have this widow and her dead son and elijah is taken to the room with the dead son and in 1 kings 17.21 it says this, ‘Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him.”

why is that a cool story? because it worked. God heard elijah’s prayer and resurrects the boy and he lives again. yay God, well done elijah.

but what if he hadn’t? if God didn’t pitch up then you have a grown man, climbing on to and lying on top of the body of a dead boy… now i’m not sure we can tell from the story if he did that twice with no results and then the third time God answered because that would add in a whole other dimension, but from elijah’s point of view it has to be coming from a point of ‘i really believe this is what God wants me to do and i am going to risk reputation and possibly life to be faith-full and obedient to what i have heard God say.’

“yeah, but it’s elijah”

the same elijah who goes on to witness another robe-wetting moment on top of mount carmel where if God doesn’t show up with the sacrifice then he will lose reputation and life for sure… but also the same elijah who shortly after that incident runs away because a woman threatens him and ends up moping to God that he is the only one left [when God secretly has thousands of other faithful followers stashed away in a cave] and so clearly there were times when ‘but it’s elijah’ was not good enough to guarantee success and bravery in the face of consequences.

there are so many others like this – noah builds a giant boat in the desert, Jesus spits into a blind man’s eye, peter and john tell a crippled man to get up and walk… so many miracle stories that only took place because someone was faithful and obedient to what they heard God calling them to do… if you have known me long enuff then you will have probly heard the story of the safe house for kids in cape town that was birthed out of a worship meeting [http://www.uthandolenkosi.co.za] – a lot of people called them crazy, even some pastors took action to try and protect them from the foolish thing they were going to do… and yet because God said it, and because people responded faithfully it happened.

i think it is important to finish off by saying that the point is not to go out and do stupid things… if you go to the local swimming pool and step out on the water you will sink. why? because God did not invite you to. the key here is listening out for what God is saying to you and acting on it regardless of whether it makes sense or not to those around you. [altho seeking good counsel from strong Jesus-following people around you to make sure it is God’s thing He is calling you to and not just a hare-brained scheme is worth doing]

but if God does call you to lie on top of a dead kid and call out to Him three times, and you’re sure it’s God speaking, then you had better act on that and you will only know whether God is going to show up or not the moment it is too late if He doesn’t…

dinner for shmucks

last nite the beautiful Val and i went to go and have dinner with our friend bren who we had not seen for a long time which i was really looking forward to. when we got there he was busy prepping a pretty amazing spaghetti bolognaise (i could quite possibly eat that every day, yum.) and he mentioned that he had invited his friend angelique for dinner too.

my initial thort was flip that’s a bit rude – we just wanted to hang with you and now you’re inviting a stranger into the mix. brendan was already daunting me (not really) by being dressed in his lawyer suit while i was in my hang-not-quite-but-close-to-pajama pants and now i’ve got to be social and all that.

sigh.

well it turned out to be an incredible evening. and not just cos angelique brought home-baked nigella lawson chocolate rocky road brownie vibes [flippin mmm.]. it was just the four of us and the most intense (in a good way) full of depth real revolutionary and life-changing conversation. and for the most part i just sat back and observed as bren, angelique and val went at it – trafficking, prostitution, the uthando lenkosi house of safety story, being light to people stuck in darkness, Jesus, life experiences, church, and so on… seems really random when it’s in a list but just in terms of the hanging-with-people times i’m used to which is a meal and maybe a movie or a board game, this was a whole ‘nother level. and it was completely fascinating.

wow. no shmucks at this meal. except maybe me. but i don’t care. it was just a phenomenal time. tiring, as those kind of times are, but brilliant. and just speaking about real, life-changing God stuff really built up my faith (as it does) and especially in the area of needing to really trust God (where tbV and i are in terms of life plan and finances and so on) it strengthened me incredibly and made me super amped to be living that out.

all that. and the spaghetti and dessert was unbelievably amazing. flip.

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