Thursday, April 10, 2008

Unity

Hello friends and family,

We surely miss you all this week! There have been so many people in and out of our lives here, and we think of you all the time. I honestly don’t think we could do this with your prayers and support. Hope you feel like you are a part of this – because you are!! I have been feeling a bit homesick now this week, missing the normalcy of life in Raleigh. We just take it one day at a time here, and God continues to show up.

I have had a hectic week working with many different people and places of ministry. One support group leader I have started working with is named Antoine. He and his wife Mati have two young kids and are here in a township called Capricorn. They are refugees from the Congo. Their story is mind-blowing because they fled their country because of civil war. They were forced out by a rebel group because they were working with an NGO that talked with people about AIDS, and the rebel group assumed they were working with the government and white people. It’s hard to understand, but they left their country and came here with nothing when Mati was six months pregnant with their first child. They have suffered a great deal and had many challenges here, but have begun to form a new life in Cape Town. They now work with other refugees in Capricorn, and I went to Antoine’s support group last Thursday made up of refugees from the Congo. Antoine asked me to speak about leadership, and I came with a message I felt God had put on my heart. One of the main things I taught about what how God was calling them to be prophetic leaders who gave a new and creative vision ahead for how people could move forward. They were deeply moved by our discussion, and have invited me back next week to talk about their personal challenges further and to dream ahead with them. Mati told me that when she goes to church she never feels as if they pastor speaks to them, but in our time together she felt like I was able to speak to her heart and situation. It was profoundly humbling. I went back to see Antoine and Mati yesterday and we had a deep conversation about their troubles and what God is calling them to. I was able to share scriptures and really encourage them about what God is doing now and what He is preparing them for. It was a special and even sacred time where I knew God was speaking through me. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to be used by God in this way. These people have exceedingly difficult lives here in Cape Town, because they are oppressed even by the black South Africans in their communities. They fled lives where they had education, respect, and peace, and now they find themselves in oppression and hopelessness. The Bible is coming alive in a way I have never seen before among these people because God’s words are written just for them. God’s heart beats and breaks for the oppressed and broken. We often read Jeremiah 29:11-13 for our own purposes, but this letter is God actually speaking to the Israelite people who are exiled, just like my friends here in Cape Town who are exiled from the Congo. Hear these words anew through their unfortunate circumstances:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I invite you to pray by name for Antoine and Mati, and pray for their dreams and hopes that God has put in their hearts. They know this time in Cape Town is for God’s purposes, to teach and refine them, but they ultimately hope to go back to the Congo to speak and minister to God’s people there. We must pray for their strength, pray for perseverance, and pray for peace in the midst of oppression and waiting. Mati shared this scripture with me, and I think it is a fitting vision for us:
“How good and pleasant is it when brothers live together in unity!” -Psalm 133:1


Love you!
Sarah