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The Leaves of the Tree Are For the Healing of the Nations






At nine am on a cloudy Tuesday morning, our staff, residents and community members gathered together for a time of communal learning. Why? At East Mountain, one of our core values is a commitment to life-long learning.  We believe true leaders are men and women who whole heartedly engage in process of personal growth and development - head, heart, hands. In line with this value, we decided to set aside time each month to gather and learn together.  Whether it be some of our own staff teaching or bringing in outside voices, our hope is to provide another avenue of inspiration and critical thinking and time together.

So our first topic The Big Picture, A Whole Bible Overview. Our focus centered on demonstrating how God redeems us into His covenant family through the covenant faithfulness of His Son Jesus. Throughout the course of the day, we looked at God's covenant promises made to his people, beginning in the Genesis and continuing to the coming and death of Jesus.  The purpose was to help us cultivate a deeper awareness of God's Grand Plan to restore his people back to a place of God where they can enjoy His presence forever. Looking at scripture through the lens of a progression of covenants (or development of one covenant) was invaluable, especially to give context and motivation as we jump into a year of reading through the entire Bible as a community.

As we continued through the day, reading through God's faithfulness and promise despite man's pattern for disobedience and destruction, many of us sat in our seats wondering, what do we take away from this? How do we cling to truth and hope that feels so easy to believe in the classroom but then we go out and interact in a world tormented by pain, war, sadness, and so much suffering? Jesus came as our ultimate sacrifice and invitation to be with God, and yet he also commissioned us to love God, obey him, and make disciples. We take this as a challenge as we march into a creation that continues to reel in expectation for Jesus to return and for God to restore the world.

Revelations 22 paints a picture of this world: "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him."

We opened up the day with a tree that humans had used to send creation into a spiral of shame, disobedience and chaos. The nations throughout the Bible are generally in poor shape. Despite the hope Jesus brings, it's hard to ignore the suffering that still abounds around us. But God isn't just sitting back and letting the world tear itself up. Throughout history his plan has been to make things right, to restore the relationships of humans with creation, humans with other humans, humans with self, and everything to himself. His kingdom is one of future restoration (the city and river and beauty painted in revelation) as well as current ongoing restoration. His tree of life with leaves for healing the nations gives us hope for this future, but also motivates to join in this healing process right now. When it comes down to it, that's our tiny part in kingdom-building with Him.  If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, we look forward to any opportunity to be his healing leaves to the nations, restoring the world to shalom alongside Him.
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New Welcome

Written by Lindsay Shifflet



Once again, as in years past, East Mountain ushered in the new year with a braai to welcome our new residents: Tamsen, Jacques, Matt, Jordan, and Azola (Stix). The braai was stocked full of meat, the kitchen sink was full of dishes, and the house echoed with laughter and conversation as our community gathered together to commemorate the beginning of a new season together. After some ice-breaker games, a meal was shared before a powerful time of worshipping, listening to the Word, and praying with one another. We were reminded of the importance of fixing our eyes on Jesus and asking Him to help us love God and our neighbor well. The 2019 resident welcome braai signifies the beginning of a focused journey full of learning more about God and loving others.



As the evening came to a close and people drifted off to their respective homes, our five new residents stayed behind for their first night in their new home. These residents represent five lives that will be challenged and changed this year for the sake of the Kingdom because they said "yes" to God's call on their lives. Five lives that will experience new relationships and opportunities that will delight and stretch them. Five lives that will be empowered to impact the world with hope, love, and wisdom in profound new ways at the end of this year by the grace of God.

With this first braai, the cusp of the unknown for this new year has been breached, and the way to go is forward. We look ahead with anticipation to see what incredible and astounding plans God has in store for our new residents, the East Mountain community, and our fellow South African partners and friends.   


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Christianity Explosion

Written by Spanky Rouse



I have the privilege of connecting with partners here in South Africa as the partnership coordinator for East Mountain. Our mission at East Mountain is to develop Christian leaders for global missional service, so my day job consists of connecting people and organizations for kingdom purposes. If you know me, then you know that I love this kind of work.

Recently, I attended a breakfast with one of our partners and one of the top evangelical schools in Africa for training pastors and church leaders, George Whitfield College. GWC is training and preparing Africans from across the continent to lead the church with great biblical clarity. East Mountain is thrilled that several of our former residents and interns are currently studying at GWC.




During our breakfast, a professor passionately shared with us statistics on the explosion of Christianity on the continent of Africa. As I listened, I was reminded just how important our mission is for discipleship and training of young African Christian leaders! Here are some surprising stats:

In 1900, 9 million Christians were estimated to be from Africa
In 2000, 380 million African Christians (a 4000% growth!)
In 2025 there is projected to be 700 million Christians in Africa! Gordon Conwell


Today, 1 in 4 Christians are African and in the next 50 years it will be 1 in 3. Africa will soon be the centre for worldwide Christianity.



Why is the church growing so fast?
Africans might be the best evangelists. Why? From my observations, they are for the most part a communal society, passionate communicators, and unashamed of their beliefs - beliefs in God or beliefs in soccer, it doesn't matter. Whatever they love and hold close, they will passionately and unashamedly let you know.

Also, mission efforts over the past 100 years have been focused on evangelism. This isn't a negative, but it isn't complete in fulfilling the Gospel. We need to lead people to Jesus and then walk with them through life to help them grow in their relationship and understanding of Jesus and the Bible.

What issues might come out of the rapid growth of Christianity?
Let me give you a real-life scenario that is taking place today as you read this and takes place every day across Africa. I think it will clearly demonstrate the need for discipleship and leadership development.

A young man heads to the big city to get a job so he can take care of his family. While in the city, someone passionately, unashamedly, and honestly shares the good news of Jesus with him while he is in the taxi. The man returns to his village and begins to share with others the love of Jesus and all that he has been reading in the Bible. After just a few months, there are now 100 people in his village that have put their faith in Jesus. They want to gather weekly for fellowship and learn more about the Bible. This is a good size church in an African village. Now the questions arise...

Who is going to lead this church?
Who is going to teach the Bible accurately?
Who is going to disciple all of these people into strong, growing, Bible-believing Christ followers?


WHO? The young man that just a few months ago became a Christian himself but still doesn't understand the much of the Bible, has never been discipled, and has never led a group of people?

The problem with this scenario is exactly what you can imagine. No one has ever taught him about the Bible or how to read it. No one has ever discipled him and showed him what a godly man looks like. No one has ever warned him against false teaching. He has grown up with tribalism and animism ingrained into his thinking. It will not be easy for him to clearly differentiate from correct teaching and corrupt teaching.

East Mountain seeks to address this real need in Africa for more trained Christian leaders for the rapidly growing church.  We develop emerging leaders in the areas of  Biblical knowledge, practical ministry and leadership skills, as well as spiritual life disciplines in an intentional multicultural environment.  We commit ourselves to this holistic training so leaders gain what they truly need to in order to fulfil the mission of reaching the continent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and discipling believers to maturity in Christ. This is what East Mountain strives to achieve. That is our hope for what we do, and we believe this is God's call on our family for this season.  

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A Small Role to Play: Trinity Children's Centre

Written by Lindsay Shifflet



On any given Monday or Wednesday afternoon, you can find the EM Spark cruising along the 310. Enveloped by the sprawling township of Khayelitsha on one side and the rolling Atlantic Ocean on the other, our fellow EM residents hang a right toward Mitchell's Plain, one of the largest coloured townships in the Western Cape. Vibrantly colored houses line the streets. Each sidewalk corner boasts a unique display of wares for sale that include anything from a thirty rand sack of potatoes to a puppy to a left boot.

From the humble schoolyard of Trinity Children's Centre, you can hear the sound of children yelling with joy as they are released for their sports time. Coaches Zach, Zuzu, and Will stand in the yard, bracing themselves for hugs from kids running towards them at breakneck speed with all of the enthusiasm and anticipation of children who have been in classes all day and are ready for some action.

Trinity is now five years old, and each new year of its existence marks the beginning of a new grade added to the school's repertoire. Students who started at Trinity as preschoolers are now in grade four. The school strives to approach the care and education of the children from a holistic perspective, and this includes their physical health. This concern for physical health links right into what Zach, Zuzu, and Will have had the opportunity to engage with this past year with their physical education classes. These classes are not only really fun, but they are also powerful in their formation of the character of the kids.

Sports time starts off with laps, stretches, breathing exercises, and prayer. Then the games begin. Hula-hooping, jump roping, bean-bag-tossing, soccer, can-jam.... You name it, it's been played in the Trinity yard. The teachers, affectionately referred to as coaches, use this time to help the kids develop their physical health, motor skills, and basic sports skills. There are also plenty of opportunities to teach valuable themes such as teamwork, respecting authority, sportsmanship, and healthy competition.
 
   

Despite the fun, teaching the P.E. classes isn't always easy. The realities of gunshots, drugs, and gangsterism are ever-present in the backdrop of Mitchell's Plain. Trinity lies on the border between two warring gangs, and the teachers have to be prepared for anything. Another significant challenge is the diversity of backgrounds represented by the kids. For many of the children, the realities of living in Mitchell's Plain are real and tangible within their own homes. The difficult home settings that some of the kids come from creates a context around misbehavior in class that can be hard to fully understand and address. Even within one grade, there is a wide array of emotional ages and maturity levels present. Zuzu, Zach, and Will have all learned this year how to engage more effectively with kids who are acting out in class with compassion and a better understanding of trauma and its effects, especially under the guidance of Autumn who works at Trinity on a daily basis.

As our residents grew to understand the children and their contexts, a vision for more intentional one-on-one time and engagement beyond the P.E. classes was born. Mere weeks later, Wednesday afternoons at Trinity became a space for an after-school program. The program focuses mostly on grades three and four. In the township context, these children are on the cusp of having to grow up very quickly, and this program meets the need to provide encouragement and connection with them in this influential time in their lives.

After a brief time outside to play games, the kids are split into boys and girls groups for homework time. The snacks are busted out, and it's down to business as class projects and tutoring are tackled. Afterwards is an engagement time where the kids talk about what has been going on in their lives and share prayer requests. The themes of teamwork and respecting authority that they learn in P.E. are played out in this time as well. Overall, the program serves to provide a safe place for the kids, and allows Zuzu, Will, and Zach to be more present with smaller groups in order to build stronger relationships with them. 

Though different in many ways, the P.E. classes and after-school program hold one common theme: they are comprised of many small efforts, words, and gestures that build up to make an impact--even in the midst of schoolyard chaos. One minute you'll hear a coach telling a kid "No, you cannot take your pants off right now!" And yet, only a moment later, you will see another coach lean down, look a child in the eye as they face a daunting activity, and say "You are capable. You can do this." The latter phrase is one of many small ways that our EM coaches invest in the kids.

And it is in those many small moments that Zach, Zuzu, and Will have been able to join Trinity in its mission to see impact, growth, and hope. This mission is seen in the enthusiasm of a kid showing off a new trick or dance move, the warmth of a bone-crushing hug from three children at once, or the joy of a five year old feeling seen and known because you remembered their name and asked about their week. The kids receive encouragement and positive affirmation that crowns them with dignity and enrobes them with the truth that they are worthy of love, no matter what they experience or hear when they aren't at school.

  

In the end, the realities of preparation, the need for flexibility, and the importance of managing expectations are all challenges in the children's ministry field. A well-structured vision and picture perfect plan goes awry more often than not when working with kids, and Trinity is no exception. And yet, God works in grand ways amidst plans gone awry. In chaos and uncertainty, He uses small things we would never expect to form the heart of a child. In Zach, Zuzu, and Will's small acts of faithfulness to be present with the kids and love them well, God is faithful to do more than we could ever imagine. The few hours a week the residents spend there play a small yet vital role in raising up the next generation of leaders in Mitchell's Plain. A small role that will send ripples throughout time as these little children grow up to one day become leaders and role models who will affect great change in their communities, and in their country. For they are certainly capable, and the Trinity school yard serves as a small yet vital place of impact to remind them of that.



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Summit Reflection

Written by Tori O'Connor




Eager, willing, hungry.  Three characteristics that merely scratch the surface in describing the 2018 East Mountain Summiteers.  These are the kind of characteristics that every Summit coordinator hopes (and prays!) to have in those he or she is spending the next six weeks with.  By God's grace, He blessed our community with six extremely eager, willing, and hungry individuals.

Eager to embrace every class, workshop, ministry, and person they encountered.  Willing to be challenged, molded, and stretched in their understanding of who they are and who God is.  Hungry to know God in deeper and more profound ways...as well as for mama Kat's delicious food.  As much as we hoped and prayed that the Summiteers would walk away being blessed by our community, I can say with confidence that they have blessed us in return and left their mark on each of us. 

Throughout the six weeks, I often found myself pausing and realizing how absolutely spoiled I was to have the vantage point of the Summiteers that I did.  I saw them at 6:45 in the morning when we would drag ourselves out in the freezing-cold, pitch-black mornings to drive to  Theology class, I saw them come alive singing and dancing during 10-minute car rides to the grocery store, and I saw them in moments of stillness late at night when exhaustion and deep thoughts encompassed their mind.  These moments are significant.  They are the moments when all guards come down and you're really just living life with people - authentically and organically getting to know one another in simple day-to-day tasks.  They are the moments when you see strengths and qualities that are natural God-given gifts in each of them.  They are the moments that allowed me to know them more than just my interns, but more as friends, brothers & sisters, family.

East Mountain desires to cultivate a Christ-centered community while developing leadership skills amongst those we have the privilege to invest in.  One of the Summiteers expressed to me, "Tori, I have learned so much through conversations and observation of the East Mountain staff as they have addressed situations and people. Apart from the workshops and teachings and events, I am learning leadership through simply watching and engaging other people."

Let us continue to create spaces to see each other in the day-to-day seemingly insignificant moments of life.  These are the spaces where authenticity is found and where community flourishes.  They are the moments where we can encourage, exhort, and stimulate one another to continue the missional work that is before us.  Let us strive to be a living example to others of Christ-like leadership who loves all who cross our path. 
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Helder Valley Community Centre

Written by Lindsay Shifflet



Tucked neatly within the hills of a farming community off of R 44 in Somerset West is the Helder Valley Community Learning Centre. Standing stoically like a proud and seasoned soldier, the rugged main building embodies the space of joy and safety that this center has been to generations of children. The sound of Afrikaans melds with snatches of dialects from Zimbabwe and the screams of delighted children. Soccer balls are the hottest commodities, and there's a feeling of joy in the air synonymous with the freedom that comes at the end of a school day.

Helder Valley Community Centre serves many purposes, and has for years. The children that are served by this centre are from families that have lived in the surrounding farming community for generations, and they range from grade R up to high school. Homework tutoring in reading and math is provided, but the most powerful impact of the centre is the space that it creates for the kids in the community to spend time with their friends in a place that allows them to be what they are--kids. For them, the community center is a place to come after school that is safe, fun, and engaging. This is no small blessing. With drugs, alcoholism, and abuse being stark realities in their lives, the environment that the centre fosters in the community cannot be overstated.

The centre also acts as a place for the kids to be poured into and challenged. The Rouse family who serve as missionaries with East Mountain come to the center several times a week to build relationships with the kids and love on them. This could include anything from helping with after-school tutoring to playing rounds of soccer to baking muffins for someone's birthday. Their time at the center embodies much of what East Mountain desires to focus on in regard to building relationships and discipleship. They work in partnership with Louise, a woman from the community who was herself impacted by the centre growing up. She is an integral part of everything that happens there, and her passion to serve the kids is evident not only in the commitment she has to pour out, but also in the respect that the kids show her in return. The work that both she and the Rouse family do embodies a very natural and organic kind of ministry that is conducive to building trust and strengthening relationships. This allows for tough questions to be asked, and truth and encouragement to be shared.

Lastly, occasional workshops are offered at the centre. East Mountain resident Marlyn teaches a couple of dance classes each week for different age groups. The younger kids delight in the way that she combines dancing with games, singing, and yelling. The joy radiating from that class is contagious. With the class for the older kids however, Marlyn shifts her focus to lessons underlying the dance moves she teaches. As she instructs dance, she also focuses intensely on leadership by asking her older students to help her lead the younger students, and expecting them to give her 100% effort. Amidst the kindness and fun Maryln brings to her class, she also expects the best from her students, and they respect her for it. She does an incredible job choreographing dances, but she also develops character and inspires young leaders. She believes in them, challenges them, and loves them.
  
The relationships and natural opportunities for discipleship that both Marlyn and the Rouse family are able to engage in at Helder Valley are tangibly affecting the young people that come to the centre every week. In the many small things of life such as a hug on a bad day, an answer to a tough question about home, or a friend to play soccer with, the power of investing in others with empowering love is creating change and impacting the Helder Valley community.
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Timothy Fellowship

Written by Karen & Phil Dubert

Karen & Phil moved to South Africa in 2012 to live in the EM community and serve as members of EM full-time staff.


 
Timothy Fellowship, the one year foundational Bible study cohort in Port Elizabeth. Each month I (Karen) fly to Port Elizabeth to spend a Saturday working with a dedicated group of lay ministers hungry to know God's word more intimately. This year has been an exciting time of intellectual growth, spiritual communion and deep fellowship. We have grown to love and delight in one another. When Nonhlanhla texted that she would not be able to make class last month, Xoliswa texted her:
"This is our third last class. If you are dead can't you ask somebody to stand for you in the mortuary until you come back?" 

That's how much this time of iron-sharpening-iron has come to mean to us. Each session includes parts of : a Bible overview, Bible study methods, hermeneutics and exegesis (and yes, we know what those words mean now), Spiritual formation, and learning the Catechism. We have had special guests come to teach: Sue taught us Inductive methods during two classes and Afrika Mhlope (author of "Freed by God Imprisoned by Culture") came to speak to us on veneration of ancestors for several hours. Talk about being challenged and having our worldview shaken! 
 
These beginners' steps into knowing and loving the Word of God for ourselves have been life- giving. Feeling that we are able to "rightly divide the Word of Truth" --or at least heading in the right direction, gives us a sense of awe that we, children of our Heavenly Father have been so entrusted. 

We have mourned with each other over the passing of family members, rejoiced over new lives coming into families, and celebrated milestones attained. We laugh. We encourage. We grow. We talk and question. Next year, Lord willing, some of these participants will be facilitating the year- long course in their own parishes. 
 
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Perspective

Written by Matthew Davis

Matthew Davis is currently living in Texas, USA, and recently served as the Scholar-in-Residence for East Mountain's 6-week intensive internship program, Summit 2016.


I want to think about a word 'perspective' for a moment.

Go ahead...

What definitions come to mind? What images?

Perhaps the word brought to mind a definition or two, like "point of view" or a particular "attitude." Perhaps you went another step, thinking of an example from your own life or in recent events. And this is exactly what I want to talk about today.

It is an early morning here in Texas as I write this. Having recently returned from South Africa, where I was humbled to have served as East Mountain's scholar-in-residence for the 2016 Summit, the word 'perspective' has been very near to my thoughts and lips. Friends and family have asked about my time. They are eager for stories and pictures, and in the midst of it, the word comes back again and again. When I scroll through social media apps, again and again: perspective.

Here are some of those thoughts...

This year's interns came to Summit for a variety of reasons and from a variety of places. They all brought not just clothes, Bibles, and toothbrushes, but also their own stories. They brought every joy and trial, and every idea of themselves, of this world, and God. I did too.

Together we went through Paul's letter to the Ephesians. We wrote down every 'identity marker,' that is, every place where Paul tells us who we are (and who we were). We talked about the plan of God for this world and the direction of history. We talked about how we should live. And in the midst of it all, God began to adjust their perspective.

I know I keep using that word, but, honestly, maybe it's because so often it does not mean for us what we think it means. We think of 'perspective' and see our own point of view and our own attitude. When we do, we mostly look at our own feet and think our own thoughts; we reach out and try to grasp our own breath. And when we are not thinking of ourselves, we are thinking of the world and its direction. We seek its counsel or we see what events unfold day after day. Often we are left with a desperate, terrible glimpse. What, then, shall we do? How must we live? We need to live from God's perspective.

Living in a busy household where privacy is but a moment and every day of six weeks is planned, I witnessed the Summit interns practice the things that Paul preached in Ephesians (many of which weren't planned). Their humility and leadership were evident as they brought up issues and practiced forgiveness. They encouraged one another, each intern one by one. They prayed for one another. They gathered together many evenings singing songs of worship. They broke bread together. They laughed. They hoped.

Then they all went back home.

But do you know what they took with them? Pictures, memories, and a cool t-shirt? Yes, of course. But also this: a taste, a glimpse of God's perspective!

Perspective needs vision and distance. Grasping God's perspective allows us a peek into reality, because it alone offers the eternal vision and distance necessary to grasp who we are and where history is headed. If we look into our own past and what's going on in this world, we don't see hope or a future; we see chaos. But Paul offers to us the gospel's perspective of reality. He calls us to look much further back and much further ahead.

And this is good news! Why? It means that before it all began and after it all ends, it is God's perspective that will remain. It means that you have a hope and a future because of the death and resurrection of Christ.

It means that, because of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the church is now a cosmic witness of God's radical reconciliation plan. It means that we are, as theologian Stanley Grenz calls the church, a 'pioneer community.' And our Summit interns are back on the frontier, having taking with them that glimpse of God's perspective. They are the ones telling the world, "Come and see. For we are the ones that have tasted and seen!" Read more

Tagged as discipleship, internships, Summit.

Starting a New Life

Written by Ronn and Aladrian Elmore

Ronn and Aladrian are Americans, former church leaders who moved to South Africa earlier this year to live in the EM community and serve as members of EM full-time staff.


Sixteen weeks. Not very much time in a missionary's life. It seems like we've been serving with East Mountain so much longer. Everything is new and so very unfamiliar--new country, community, customs, cuisine, languages, laws, practices, procedures, expectations, work, and relationships (let's not talk about driving). The only things familiar are what we brought with us--our clothes, our prayers, and each other. What an adventure we're having, and we're so grateful.

God's timing in our lives has been amazing. We arrived at East Mountain (EM) just days before the Battle for the Hearts (B4H) retreat, which afforded us the privilege of getting to know and be known by our new community very quickly. We were embraced by each EM household; and, we fell in love with the residents whom we adopted as surrogate offspring. We quickly became family.

So much has happened in this short period ... Both of us have preached at a local church, and Aladrian has sung there on several occasions. Ronn has preached, taught, and counseled in the Western and Eastern Cape areas. He was even asked to candidate to be pastor of a local church and (only half-jokingly) Bishop of an Eastern Cape diocese. Talk about jumping in with both feet!

And, God continues to remind us that He's in control here in South Africa.

We've met South Africans changing the world like Desiree, Branch Manager of Learn to Earn, a discipleship for residents of high-unemployment communities; and Enoch, a Zimbabwean pastor called to South Africa, who also tends lions, tigers, jaguars and cheetahs in a big cats preserve at a local winery; and Marie, an Afrikaans woman called to meet the needs of the down-trodden in her Paarl community and to challenge Afrikaaners concerning the validity of their relationship with God.

It's been an exciting life so far, filled with challenges and much joy. We are honored that the Lord called us to partner with Him in this beautiful part of the world. And, we are grateful for our East Mountain community. We look forward to more adventures to come.

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Tagged as community, transition.

Depth of Summit

Written by Karen & Phil Dubert

Karen & Phil moved to South Africa in 2012 to live in the EM community and serve as members of EM full-time staff.


We are in the middle of Summit and if there is one thing we want to do, it's feed our interns well. They have an over-flowing schedule, plenty of studying, ministry commitments, and adventures to go on. So, we feel it is necessary to provide adequate nutrition.

But on a Saturday night three weeks into the journey, they each came to the dinner table with a small coloured square which was placed before them. If they had a blue square, they received a plate of pap (stiff corn meal), a large spoonful of beans, half a boiled carrot, and a spoon to eat with. If they had a yellow square, they received a plate with a quarter loaf of brown bread, a spoonful of jam, the other half of someone's boiled carrot and a helping of those same beans. They all drank black, terrible coffee, the blue squares had one spoonful of sugar, the yellows had two.

There were no seconds and no desserts. It didn't take long to finish the unappetising meal, but they did finish it. They had had a long day and were ready to eat. This dinner was the wrap up of a pilgrimage to Robben Island which started at 9 am on a boat trip to the famous prison in Cape Town's Table Bay. The blue squares received the standard ration of the Black prisoners and the yellow squares received the diet designated for Asian and Coloured prisoners. Although the interns made the best of it, it was hardly a jolly meal. 

Robben Island's most renowned prisoner was Nelson Mandela who spent 18 of his 27 years as a prisoner there. Our interns rode in a bus around the island seeing: the house of isolation where Robert Sobukwe was kept, the large rooms which housed 60 prisoners who slept on two mats with four thin blankets, the quarry where the prisoners broke rock, the cave where the educated prisoners secretly taught the illiterates, and the cell where Mandela lived, slept, and wrote his "Long Walk to Freedom". They took in more than history.
They saw a new depth of human spirit, that God-breathed part of each person.

They turned cold inside from the horror of what people could do to one another, and they were warmed by the resilience of people to respond to evil in gracious ways. Mandela's legacy is strong there. We listened to a guide who had been incarcerated in 1986, sentenced to 14 years for "acts of subversion." When our intern, KeKe, asked him how he felt when he first walked into the cell he would share with 59 others, Ndoza said he had hope because he knew he had 14 years, then could walk free. He knew the Rivonia Trialists (Mandela and other leaders) were serving life sentences. He lived in the hope that one day he would walk free. Now he proudly shows tourists his prison and tells his story.

This journey is one of the experiences we hope will make our interns more aware of history and the reality of human nature. We pray it brings all our hearts and eyes into alignment with how God's heart feels and His eyes see this world we desire to serve.
As Mandela said: "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

Enhancing the lives of others is essential in Kingdom life. Read more

Tagged as internships, Summit.

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