Most Surreal Moments in South Africa

Outreach always provides moments that seem like one must be in another world. There are the miraculous moments, where people go from the kingdom of darkness and enter the Kingdom of Light through the blood of Jesus Christ or where physical healings and other miracles occur. But then there are the moments where you experience other types of new things, either because you are in a new culture or just because you are outside of your normal element. Here are a few stories of those.

I found myself on the roof of a children’s ministry, the Kibbutz, in Roodewal one day in the pouring rain. Why? Because the night before someone had climbed onto the roof, broken through it, and dropped into the building to find food and other things to pilfer and steal, or, as my English friend said it, to snaffle a few things. So, after a trip to the local hardware store and lumber yard, I worked in a cold rain all day long and have since had a head cold.

I found myself returning from Cape Town one night after picking up someone from the airport. It’s about an hour and a half away from where we are staying and you have to drive over some mountains. Two of us made the trip to help with the late hour. After picking up the one person arriving that evening we made the return trip home. While chatting with our new arrival I looked over at the driver to see that he had fallen asleep and we had already hit the shoulder. I shouted his name and grabbed the wheel – just in time.

That wasn’t the end of the excitement of that night. I arrived back to the hostel/college where we are staying (Boland College), to find that we had been overrun with a youth conference. One Thousand new people were living in the same area with us, and it didn’t bother them in the least that it was 12:30 a.m. In fact, one particularly loud group of young men was just outside our room’s window, where Tara was trying to sleep, playing dominoes. I approached them to let them know that there was another group of people there trying to sleep. My approach must not have seemed friendly because I wasn’t well received. I went to find a leader and then they moved. However, the partying continued. Tara and I prayed together that they would be filled with tiredness and go to bed. In five minutes the entire noise stopped and everyone went to bed. I’m sure others in our group were praying in the same way.

A few nights after that I was awakened at 1 a.m. by loud banging and a loud voice. I opened the door where Tara, Regan and I all sleep and saw a figure start to go out of our building. About 15 of us sleep in one building, and our whole group is in four buildings together. The person then came back into the building and began banging on the door of one of our team members. I shouted down the hall, “You don’t belong here and you need to go!” In response he just began yelling louder in Afrikaans and continued beating on the door. So I approached him and prayed. I told him that he needed to go in the name of Jesus. He quietened a bit but didn’t leave. I finally had to grab him by the arm and the shirt in the front of his chest and forcibly remove him. When I locked the door behind him he then rushed into the door, which has a glass front, and I thought it might break. It looked a bit like one of the scenes in I Am Legend.

Then, he ran off, but something in my heart realized he wasn’t leaving, so I ran off after him – in my pajamas, socks, and shirt. Remember it is 1 something in the morning. I went around the corner to find him beating on the window of the same room. The person in that room, bless her heart, is a 60+ year old retired dentist. I told him again that he had to go and asked him if I needed to call the police; of course, he still hadn’t spoken English. He then ran at me and swung. But, praise God, he was so drunk that his aim was horrible. He ran away but then I saw him bending over to pick up a rock so I decided to head back to the building. As I did two more people arrived, one of the men on the outreach and a friend of his. This entire time I had been praying and suddenly something changed. He spoke English for the first time. And, to make a long story shorter, we ended the episode in prayer together, all four of us. Apparently, in his drunkenness, he had the wrong room.

This week we have had six assemblies in four public high schools, preaching, singing, and acting out the gospel of Jesus Christ before about 6000 teenagers. We were able to be as bold as the Lord led us to be, even though the schools were public. In two of the schools we had open “altar calls” and saw over one hundred kids pray to follow Jesus and thousands seek prayer for matters as “normal” as for examinations and kids calling them names to matters as serious as parents with HIV, deliverance from gangs, and forgiveness for theft and other crimes.

In one of the schools I met with the principal before we led the assembly. As I walked in there were two students already present. He let them leave and we began to talk. I then noticed a knife on his desk that was at least 6 inches long. He told me that he had just confiscated it from the students. But, what he told me next helped me realize that we had a good day ahead of us. He said that he knew God loved the child who brought a knife to school just as much as any of us and that he must therefore do the same.

Just yesterday I walked into a house with my translator to discover that the occupant was an attractive young lady wrapped only in a towel, fresh from a bath. I was quite disturbed, but she wasn’t. I turned away and then she stepped out of the room, so I assumed she was going to get dressed. Instead, she came back, still only in a towel but this time topless so that she could put on a shirt. One of the Dutch missionaries we are working with in Cape Town told me later that most of the native South Africans feel appropriate bearing their top, but not their bottom.

And, today, this afternoon, we got to move from the poverty of Du Noon to the beaches on the southern tip of South Africa. That is quite surreal as well.

These are a few, and not all, of the surreal moments I’ve had over the past 4 to 5 weeks. I’d sure love for more people from home to come experience the excitement of outreach! I say this especially in the face of some dangerous moments because it is always amazing how God provides protection in those moments. And, of course, there is nothing like praying with someone to accept Jesus and seeing the love and light of Jesus enter their eyes. Outreach provides many opportunities for those moments!!!

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