Two BLOGs I wrote in November…
Recently, I was sharing some of my experiences “on the street” in Durban, and realized that it would be great to share them here too!
My time in Durban as a missionary has really helped me to put my actions where my mouth is … I walk through the middle of town to the Bible Education Center two or three times a week, regularly. My path goes through a reasonably bad part of town where many people get mugged on a regular basis. I’ve even known a couple of people who’ve been mugged on my path. In November, while walking home (in the rain) on the most dangerous part of my regular path, I had a young Zulu gentleman stop me and ask me why I was walking in that part of town, that he was concerned for my safety. I shared with him that I understand it is a dangerous path to take, but that I have many people that I make contact with each week, and many are near this path and that this is my ministry and I’m confident that God will only let me be tested within what I can bear. And to this point, God has kept me safe in all of my travels! Immediately the young man changed and began to share his excitement in His ministry with me and how God was calling him to help people all around Africa. He invited me to several events, many of which I was unable to participate in, but he did ask if I had time to go and visit a local Hostel for single women with little children ??? Well, this is the kind of thing I feel called to do, to go and visit the truly needy, so I agreed to go with him and make first contact with these ladies and children. In our travel to the hostel, we went through a part of town that was especially scary, and we passed some gentlemen who were clearly “casing” me. For a second, I started to consider how I could evade a potential mugging, but then I remembered that I had just finished witnessing my faith and God’s ability to protect me to this young man, so I know I needed to turn it over to God (cp Ezra 8:20-22) and just let Him take control. We passed what appeared to be a “chop shop” and then went into a very ‘seedy’ building above the garages. Sure enough, there were several women with younger children and young teenagers and we chatted for a few minutes, though they were primarily zulu speaking, with a couple of other people from other countries who I couldn’t really communicate with…
When we finished our visit, and I passed back by the “chop shop” which now had the garage door pulled down in front of it, the same two men who had ‘cased’ me from before continued to stare at me very suspiciously as I walked by. Understand that I greet and try to interact with them in some basic Zulu, but they weren’t responding, only staring at me. but I kept asking God internally to give me strength to stand and to demonstrate faith that He could keep me safe, and good news – He kept me safe !!
My lesson? I know I must rely on God to deliver me in all things, however, just about the time I think I’ve got it figured out and have ‘overcome’ some special challenge, I find that my last success is actually God’s success, and is only a preparation for my next test. Each test is a stepping stone to others…
I thank God that he continues to keep me and my family safe from all harm, and I continue to remember that our safety is a function of God being with us, not with our personal ability to avoid the dangers of crime in South Africa. He is truly awesome…
One disclaimer: If God chooses to allow me to experience a crime enacted against me personally, then I know it is to develop something else in me that he will be able to use later to Glorify his name!
Much Love in the Lord,
About a month ago I was walking home after working at the BEC. I was in a local park where many people sleep on the grass or just hang around during the middle of the day. Three young men were just hanging out by a tree, and they greeted me as I was walking past. I felt an urge to stop and speak to them, so I followed my urge and spoke to them in Zulu. As is usual, I got an excitable response and they asked me what I do, again in Zulu, so I told them I am a missionary. One of them became very excited and started sharing how he thinks being an “umfundisi” (or minister) is such a great thing, but as he goes to shake my hand, he positions himself to have his left hand behind me while shaking my hand, and he was very persistently shaking my hand, telling me how excited he was that I was a missionary, and how great it is to serve, while all the time shaking my hand and keeping his other hand behind me. I had a pretty good idea what was going on. First, I could feel my back-pack being jerked at, which clued me in that he was trying to pull on one of my zippers Second, both of his friends were yanking at his pants legs and telling him “cha, cha, umfundisi, cha” and some other stuff. The Zulu Cha is short for chabo. The ch is a clicking sound and the word means NO. So his friends were telling him “No, No, he’s a missionary, no…” I understood of course, what was going on by then. So I finally extricated myself from his semi embrace, hand shake, and then told him that it is good to be enthusiastic for God, but it must start by changing our ways. I told him he could start by deciding not to pick-pocket or mug other people, I said this with a smile and asked God to Bless him and his two friends….as it turns out, the pocket he was attempting to unzip held my iPhone. The zipper was 1/2 undone by the time I separated from him, but he was unsuccessful in his pickpocketing efforts.
The rest of the story,
However, as I was walking home, my human nature caught up with me. The more I thought about how brash the young man was who tried to steal my phone, the more upset I became. I continued to think about how I would have felt about losing my iPhone, how much of an inconvenience that would be, etc, I just became angrier and angrier. It was kind of an odd thing to have handled the event so peacefully, but then to have the rush and feelings of righteous anger. I prayed and kept reminding myself that all of these things were prepared in advance for me to experience, probably for multiple reasons, and that really helped me to remember that God was in control the entire time. It also showed me how much value I placed in my phone, how in some way it is more important to me than some people are…my attachment to a thing is troubling to me and is something that I must continue to pray about and gain a proper biblical perspective with.
All in all, I was able to share a reasonable bible message with a few young men, and was able to come face to face with another part of my character that still needs a spiritual attitude adjustment. Thank God for continuing to discipline and work with me