Minnesota Farmer

South Africa – Final thoughts
February 23, 2011, 12:01 pm
Filed under: charity, church, friends, garden, Politics, South Africa, travel | Tags: , , , ,

This was my first trip to a developing world country.  I have travelled most of the U.S., in many European countries, Israel and parts of Canada.  In other words, I travelled among the blessed.  This trip was to a country that is multi-faceted.

South Africa is a resource giant.  There is so much there that is either mined or grown that the world wants, yet it is still owned by the few,and does not seem to benefit all.

South Africa has talented, energetic people.  They manufacture complex machinery.  They have hospitals that draw people from around the world to study in them.  Yet only 25% of the population is registered as being employed.

Many look at Africa and think of elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions, apes and cape buffalo, and there is that in South Africa, but it is a land teaming with people and declining wild places.

I found South Africa to be a land of contrasts.  We lived among people of the ELCSA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Africa) who were getting by on very little and yet had great joy in their lives.  I saw pastors who lived and worked with people who had so little, and yet always had something to give to the church.

I talked to young people with great hopes for their future, and young people who were holding on to their last shreds of hope.

South Africa is a land that is still struggling to throw off apartheid.  The races still live segregated.  Yes, there are those of all races that are doing well, but the black population is not doing as well as the white.  Most of South Africa is still white owned.  Yes, blacks now are part of the government, but so few know how to make that government work for them.

I saw people living off of the small amount of money they make by collecting and selling scraps of materials that here we would throw into the landfill.  People selling fruits or hand crafted items by the roadside that they had purchased and hoped to sell for a few pennies more.

The people of the Ondini circuit sing and dance in church.  They sing when they are happy, and when they are sad.  They are warm and helpful.  Above all they are willing to share their love of God with us.

I think of how much we have here, and how we complain about it when we think we don’t have enough of something, and then I see them rejoicing in all things.  We here in the U.S. should be ashamed of all of our complaints over our petty problems.

Thirty years ago I sat in on a meeting where we were talking about the changing face of mission in the world.  We talked about how the U.S. and Europe had sent people out into the world to spread the Gospel of Christ and how that mission must now change.  I was told then that the in the future, Africa would be coming to us.  I have now seen the face of mission in the future.  I have seen the joy of Christian life that cannot be matched here.  The people of the Ondini circuit have shown me Christ in a whole new way.  I’m ready for the future, I hope you are too.


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Thanks for your inspiring words, Mike. I like what you say about learning from the South African people how to sing and worship in the midst of great challenges. I like that we can learn from them and how they are Christ’s witnesses to us. I like it that you were not an arrogant American, but a faithful person of God.

Comment by Ron Letnes

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