Well here we are a new year. 2010....cant believe a decade has passed so fast, seems not long ago everyone was talking about the millennium and Y2K and all that rubbish....I'm so glad that world didn't end when the clock struck the year 2000....I love how every one has their own idea of when the world is going to end and how it is going to happen! Any way....that isn't the reason for this post.
Mart and I have lived in South Africa for nearly 5 years, it feels like 5 minutes and it feels like 50 years all at the same time.....how does that work?
We have really had a our fair share of ups and downs since living here and to be very honest with you I am SO SO SO happy to see the back of 2009!
It was a CRAPPY year! I am not going to get into all the details, but it was pretty rubbish. Now don't get me wrong, just because it was rubbish that doesn't mean that I am not glad that some of it happened. And some great things happened also. In many ways I am glad that we have gone through most of the trials that we did last year, because we are now at a place where we are ready to take on ANYTHING!
I have said before that when you are in full time ministry the devil is out to get you and he is. Last year was proof of that in so many ways....but......and its a BIG BUT........God is ALSO out to get us!!! And that really excites me.
One of our main changes last year was when we changed churches. We have been to 3 churches since moving to South Africa.
The first one that we went to we went out of convenience. We were living in a Zulu community and this church was nearby and some one that lived near us went and said it was great. So we went.
The 1st thing that struck me was that this church was on the very edge of the Valley of a Thousand Hills (Zulu capital of the world) and out of a congregation of over 1000 there were 7 non white faces. This was weird for us and I couldn't get my head around it. We were there for a year and not one person ,other than the friend that we knew already, talked to us.....now tell me that that isn't weird! Then we adopted Joe.....that's when we kinda became the freak show. White parents and a black baby......We must be freaks!!!
Well our Pastor from New York came over and did some meetings and we went with him to another church to hear him preach. After his trip he shared with us that he thought that we should start attending this new church. We thought it was a good idea as this new church had majority non white members. The praise and worship was upbeat and the preaching was good.
I have never been a lover of big churches. I don't think there is any thing wrong with big churches but it is not what I grew up with and I guess I'm not used to it.
To be honest I really struggled in the new church and even though there were loads of nonwhite faces we were still the freak show, people would actually stare at us through out an entire service and this happened ALL the time! By this time we had Joe and Jesse. White parents and 2 black kids...one woman in the mothers room asked me one day..."when are you going to have your own children?" and other one asked "cant you have babies of your own?"
WHAT????? Don't even get me started ladies!
Is it just me or are many churches these days turning into night clubs? I am all for aiming to the younger crowd but when it is at the expense of the "older" crowd I think it is wrong. Church is not just for one group of people. As far as I can tell Jesus didn't alienate and push people to the side because of age, race, class status or culture. And yet so many churches are doing just that.
Also so many churches are all about "getting people saved"........OK that's great, Jesus said "go be fishers of men". But how about the ones in the church that are already saved, have been for years? What about feeding them?
Some times we go to the drive through at McDonald's....(yeah yeah.....we are not perfect!!!)
The whole point of the drive through is speed. You go to the window get your food and out the other side...convenience. But the problem with junk food is that after a couple of hours you are hungry again. When you compare McDonald's to Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner which would you prefer? Which meal sustains you? I know after we ate Christmas dinner the other day none of us at that table could eat for a good number of hours! We were stuffed! To the limit!
Sure Christmas dinner takes more effort, more time, more patience, and is no where near as convenient as a drive through McDonald's but it sustains! It feeds and nourishes.
That's what church should be! CHRISTMAS dinner at least once a week! Martin is convinced that I need to cook him Christmas dinner once a week....for real! He thinks I should do turkey and all the trimmings......he can keep dreaming!
In May last year we went to the UK for 7 weeks. It was a great trip and during that time God really talked to us about changing churches. It had been brewing for a while and being in the UK gave us time to talk with my parents (dad is a pastor) and a couple of other people who we respect and we shared our church situation. There were many reasons why we felt that we were in the wrong church and I am not going to share them because I don't want to be negative. But we knew that God needed us to be somewhere else, we just didn't know where.
I grew up in a group of churches called New Frontiers. They are all about local community and church planting. We decided to check out the New Frontiers church here in Durban as soon as we got back to SA.
Well we did! And what can I say??? Hope Church Durban is our home!
That 1st week God really talked to both Mart and myself and we knew that we were home. Right where God wanted us to be. Drew Land is the Pastor and he and his wife Megan are originally from Texas. They are great leaders, they genuinely care about every member in the church. And they have welcomed us into the church with open arms. They are for us and they love us. Everyone has made us feel so welcome and part of what is going on. We are no longer the freak show. In fact we are just one of the few mixed race families here at Hope. And you know what it feels great.
We are finally making friends, friends that are keepers not just church friends. Our boys are making friends also and they are so happy in this church. At our last one it was a fight EVERY week to get them to go to Sunday school. but at Hope they are excited to go. The praise and worship is in many of the different languages that are uses here in South Africa...we are an African church after all!!!! We have various people preach and share and there is freedom for the Holy Spirit to move in the service. And because there is that freedom He really does move!
So 2010 for us as a family is a year of new beginnings. Today we have about 5 pounds in our bank....yep that's right 5 pounds! That's about $7 for you Yankee's! This has been a real stress for us and often lack of money has been the main fuel for our arguments and worries. Today in church Ivan, one of the leaders, preached on Luke 12 22-34. Summed up....quit your worrying oh ye of little faith........seek 1st the kingdom of God and all these things WILL be added to you.
Basically.....as long as He has a plan for you He will sustain and clothe you. This year we know that God has HUGE plans for us....so I'm guessing that He will provide for those plans.
I challenge you today to get your Bible out and read that passage. Worrying will cripple your dreams and the most dangerous day of your life is that day that you don't need a miracle from God.
Happy 2010 my Bloggy friends.