man of peace

"when you enter a house, first say, 'peace to this house.' if a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you...

"when you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'the kingdom of God is near you.'"
Luke 10:5-9

i previously wrote about how my new friend, walter, strikes me as being a man of peace.  in fact, i would dare say that what transpired when i first visited him at his home is exactly what Jesus tells his disciples would happen when they were sent out to look for men [and women] of peace. not only were they proclaiming the nearness of the kingdom of God but they were also imparting the peace of the Holy Spirit upon the homes of those who were ready to receive it. Jesus tells his disciples to search for men of peace...and to spend energy on these.

so it is with ministry here.  it has become clear that the words of Jesus in this instance [and as always] were particularly filled with wisdom...wisdom that can be easily applied to life in masiphumeleleh.  simply walking the streets of this bustling township...let alone engaging in conversation with those you meet...can be overwhelming. and if one aimlessly walks without direction...moving toward any and every person that is seen...it will be truly exhausting as well. and i have surely experienced this fleeting search for a listening ear.

and so i have taken to heeding the words of Jesus to his disciples...to go out...being led by the Spirit...to men [and women] of peace.  but i also wondered what this would really look like. what is a man of peace?  and how would i know that this man truly is just that...and not a peaceful ticking time bomb waiting to explode if anything goes wrong...which i have witnessed before...just ask the sbr folks (how's that for a shout out...what, what!).


but as i have been learning more about following the Holy Spirit to the man of peace and in turn seeing the kingdom of God unfold in his life and his home, God has brought one particular man into the picture to show me the potential Jesus was speaking about when he shared this task with his disciples. and the result has been complete joy and awe-inspired amazement.

the man i am speaking of is joseph.

when we met joseph, jonathan, willie and i were prayer walking.  that particular day, we prayed that God would set before our path...a man of peace.  at some point, a man who had clearly been drinking stopped us to say hello and ask us for some money.  we did not give him money but instead engaged in conversation with him.  where are you from? are you working? do you have kids? and then...where do you live in site 5?  turns out, he lives in the back of the wetlands...unvisited...and forgotten.

and so we asked him to show us where he lived so we could visit him again some time. reluctantly he showed us where he lived but refused to invite us in because he hadn't had time to clean.  we did not push...but instead asked him what we could pray about for him.  he told us that ever since an accident he had had where he was hit by a car while riding his bike...he has had severe back pain, headaches and was left permanently bent at the waist because of the pain. [we came to find out later that his accident was so severe that he was left in a coma...thought to be dead...and placed in a casket and brought to the morgue.  He woke up in the morgue after nearly a month in a coma.]

and so we prayed for him...we prayed for peace to come to his home...we prayed that the Kingdom of God would draw near to this new friend...and we prayed for his healing...a hand placed on his head...a hand on his spine...and a hand placed on his heart.

and we prayed in faith...that God would heal every part of joseph...and that he indeed would accept the peace that we were bringing. 

joseph told us to come back again...and so we did.

and when we visited just a couple days later...something was noticeably different.  it was not just joseph either...it was his household...it was his family...it was all different.

it was clear that joseph had something he wished to tell us. when we asked him what had happened he proceeded to tell us the following:

joseph could stand up straight
he could move his head as it was meant to move...with ease
his back was no longer in pain
he no longer had headaches
he stopped drinking 
he stopped smoking weed
his mind was clear
he wasn't yelling at his wife and kids
he would think before speaking when he was frustrated
he was not worried
he was sleeping at night

joseph had been healed

and he wanted to know how it happened.

Jesus did it.

and so we have been meeting with joseph and his family and anyone else joseph can get to come...twice a week...in a small...simple...house church.  and walter is helping to ease the language barrier for joseph's wife.  and walter has invited his neighbor.  

and we have been talking about the Kingdom of God and how it has come to each of us in dynamic and real ways.  and joseph can't stop smiling.  he said the other day...after he was sharing with us about how he has finally found a family...that he has a problem. he said:

"you see...i have a problem...i cry when i am happy."

and the tears of joy have hardly stopped for this 62 year old man of peace.

you see...i think that is what happens when the Kingdom of God comes upon a person with the life-giving peace of Jesus...we can't seem to escape the joy that accompanies it.  when peace came to joseph's house...he did not run from it...but he accepted it...

and in turn...it has changed his life.

while talking about john the baptist on wednesday of this week...joseph said with a grin on his face...i have been changed by jesus...so when are you gonna baptize me?

and so we had walter explain when...

because this sunday...we will be baptizing two men of peace...

walter and joseph.

and i pray that the peace that resides in both of their hearts through Jesus would pass from them to others as they begin to trust that the Lord would lead them...

...lead them to other men and women of peace.



the [anywhere] kingdom of God

i said it before and i will say it again...my heart is for the men living here...to raise them up into leaders for this community...leaders for the kingdom.  and God has provided men to do this with...zimbabwean men.

and while i am so thankful for this and these men have been taking incredible strides to learning this idea of simple church, this idea of community, and living lives that clearly emulate that the kingdom of God is indeed now.  but...

i have been fairly discouraged that there have not been any...and i mean any interactions with south african men.  it seemed as if there was a general disinterest in even carrying on a friendly conversation by any of these men...they just simply shut down...put up a wall...bam...end of conversation...goodbye.

and so i began praying that God would bring forth south african men who were men of peace (Luke 10:5-7 - will write on this later) and who were at least a little bit interested in even talking with me.  you see...it's great that our zim friends are so excited about loving the lost and bringing the gospel to the nations...but its just that...they will be leaving when things in zimbabwe are sorted out.  they will leave to go back to their homes...bringing with them the message of the gospel which they have learned...

and this is a good thing...

but that will leave masi with very few who know the same as these men...

and so i have been praying...a lot.

and God has answered my prayer...through a broken petrol gauge in Michelle and my yellow beetle we loving call "the colonel."  that's right, we never really know how much petrol we have left...life's an adventure here in every way...but i digress.

so one day, i was driving past the petrol station and at that moment...ran out of gas. so i walked to the station and a tall south african with kindness in his eyes and voice immediately asked me where my car was...which to this i sheepishly pointed down the road.  so without a second thought, he helped me push the colonel back to the station.  he filled the tank and told me to be careful.

the next time i came to fill up at that station, he came to the car...just to talk.  i found out that his name was walter and he lived in masi...and he had seen me walking around there and wondered what i was doing there...

this is when it gets good...

i told him that i was there to talk about jesus...to invite others to talk about him with me and to learn what it means to follow him.  assuming that the conversation would stop there...i asked him a question. but before i could get it out completely, he asked if i would come to his home and talk. 

the following thursday, jonathan and i went to his home...which is in a part of masi i had never been in...to chat with him.  while i was talking with walter, jonathan began talking with walter's neighbor...called tsepan.  without knowing it...we both asked these south african men if they wanted to join us to talk and learn about jesus...and they both answered immediately...


so we have been meeting with them regularly now...with an elderly man named joseph and his family.  we have been talking about jesus...listening to the stories of these men and women...and encouraging one another. 

and just yesterday...walter shared with us about how before we met him...he refused to go to church. his fiance tried and tried to get him to come but he always said he was not ready...he didn't trust the people in church.  but he shared with us yesterday how his heart has changed...how the Spirit is changing his heart...

he said:

since i met you guys...i am excited to read...to pray...to learn about God.  i don't have to wait until sunday to talk about God when i want to do it on sunday.  lately i can't seem to get enough of it.  i used to wake up and just wonder what i was going to to all day. now i know what i can do.  and i know you will come by and we can talk more...and if you don't...i can still go and visit joseph and talk with him.  we need to find more people to tell. 

and guess what...

he went back to Joseph's house today and talked about Jesus with him and helped around the house...without us.

and his fiance really can't believe her eyes.  and she smiles all the time now because of how walter now can't seem to get enough of his jesus.

and we will continue to meet together and pray for more south african men to join us.  

south african men of peace...

...like walter

who was caught when the kingdom of God broke forth at the petrol station of all places...

pretty cool, huh?


seek justice [forgiveness]

"learn to do right! seek justice, encourage the oppresses. defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."
isaiah 1:17

what does it mean to seek justice? 

i have been asking myself that question a lot lately...mostly because within the last two weeks or so...i have seen so many acts of injustice than i really can count.  

masiphumeleleh is a place filled with those who are oppressed...fatherless...widowed. it is a place plagued with injustice.  just recently one of the men who i have become friends with...d...a zimbabwean man confided in jeremiah and i that he had not been paid for the work that he had done completing a brick wall for a man in nearby fishhoek.  he was to be paid 1400 rand...the equivalent to $170...for a week's worth of work.  the man who contracted dennis to do the work also lives in fishhoek and promised to pay d his money upon completing the job...which he did. 
but he was not being paid.

so in living in obedience to this passage...d, jeremiah and i went to this man in masi and for nearly two and a half hours...we sought justice for d.  we reasoned with the man...he was shown to be lying...and yet...refused to pay d his money...which was rightly his...even after d suggested the man only pay him 800...then 600...then 400.

and the whole time the man refused...until d finally told the man that he would forgive him of his debt to him...that it was over...that d was finished seeking his payment...

and so he walked away...which is a big deal for d...

you see d is here in cape town away from his wife and infant daughter who are still in zimbabwe. he is here trying to beat the injustice that is overwhelming his home country right now...injustice that is resulting in thousands fleeing the country, going hungry...and even being killed. and so he is here trying to ear a simple man's wages here (minimum wage is less than $2 here) so that he can continue to care for his starving family.  

and yet...trying to escape one act of injustice has brought him face to face with yet another act of injustice here in south africa.

and i could tell story upon story like this...which is sad and sickening...and just plain wrong.

so i have been puzzled by what it really means to seek justice.  it is easy to give examples of how to encourage...how to defend and plead one's case...but how does one seek justice when it seems that the grip of injustice does not seem to even allow room for breakthrough.  is seeking justice simply shine light upon the lies of the man who refused to pay d and thus show his lack of integrity for others to see...or is it to declare d's honor through the way he speaks with his debtor?

or would it be the full payment of what is owed to d...to actually have the cash in hand?

i'm not sure i can fully answer that question...

but i can deduce something from this one example among many...and it comes in the truth of what follows this passage of scripture...in the passage that immediately follows...

"'come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD. 'though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" (isaiah 1:18)

you see...part of seeking justice...part of encouraging and defending and pleading is first recognizing that we are all recipients of these things first before we are able to actually follow suit...

for in our own acts of injustice through our sinfulness...Jesus is the one who sought justice...the one who took our acts of injustice upon himself...he was the one pleading for us...or our lives...he covered our sinfulness...taking the scarlet red of sin and making it white as snow.  it is only through christ that we are even able to follow suit...seeking justice...encouraging...defending...and pleading.

and i know d knows this...which is why he was able to walk away...saying i am done...it is finshed...i have forgiven you your debt...

because he too has been forgiven his debt...

d has experienced forgiveness and through that forgiveness he was also able to seek justice...and jeremiah and i alongside of him...and show the face of Jesus in the midst of it...and i believe that that is the first step.  we must not lose heart and as a result lose the face of Christ...for justice would be lost in the process.

But Christ was made famous in that two and a half hour conversation...made famous by a man who knows the debt that was paid for him...the injustice that was wiped clean from his slate...the forgiveness he has received...and was able to forgive as well.

and so i think that is so much of what it is all about...

it's not about seeking justice for our own sake...or even for the sake of justice...and it certainly isn't about letting one's self be steam-rolled...

but it is about making Jesus look good...making him famous amongst those who are not only experiencing the injustice but also amongst those who are bringing the injustice.

so while i know that i still don't completely understand what it means...i will heed to the commands given to us in the best way that i can...

that Christ himself might bring true justice to the hearts of those who need it...

and be made famous as his kingdom grows.



i never really liked fishing...

...until now.

i've been getting to know this zimbabwean man named simba.  he and i are pretty similar...kindred spirits you might say.  and i love spending time with him...talking about jesus.  

he loves jesus.

we have been meeting together almost daily...doing life together the best way we can considering the limitations we must accept at this present time...and studying the bible...discussing life...praying for miracles...and drinking zimbabwean tea...eating rice...and laughing...

a lot.

simba and i are learning together about what it means to make disciples. and we have begun to enjoy the way Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of men. this always seemed to be such an elementary way of looking at discipleship...and yet...it...just...makes...sense.

after discussing how we too have been called to be fishers of men...we have decided to take our fishing more seriously. 

so now when simba and i see each other...he will often lean over to me and in the most nonchalant way ask me...

"did you go fishing today?"

and i will smile and know exactly what he means.  or other times i will...between sips of tea...ask simba with a smile on my face...

"did you go fishing today?"

and he will smile and know exactly what i mean.

and we will share with one another how God has created opportunities to go fishing every single day...to pray for healing...to encourage the poor and the fatherless...to seek justice amongst the oppressed...and most importantly...

to draw all of these to Jesus...to show them his wonderful love...to point to Him completely. 

not only have i been challenged by simba's question...and he by mine...but i know that we are both encouraging one another to become better fisherman...growing in the desire to please Jesus. 

and so a lazy summer afternoon activity that i once counted as dull and a waste of time has now become the pace of my life...something that i have come to love...

...and a growing reminder to me and so many others that the kingdom of God is infact...here.


walls [peace]

"no longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.  The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
Isaiah 60:18-19

there are a lot of walls here in cape town...a lot.  i'm not sure why but i haven't really paid much attention to them until the last couple weeks.  perhaps it is because these walls have begun to manifest themselves in both the physical sense and the spiritual sense.  

crime is prevalent here. i have experienced this first hand. but beyond that, the chains of crime have taken hold and have tightened its grip on the city of cape town and the whole of south africa. there is an evil stronghold that is present here and comes in the form of crime. 

this stronghold has caused the building of walls.


walls surround the homes of the rich.  neighborhoods are riddled with walls and fences and security guards.  and these walls have created walls in the hearts of the people.  people have built up walls in their hearts toward other people.  trust is a commodity and it has been clear that it takes a lot of work for trust to be build and friendships to stick.  the word "neighbor" really does not exist in the subdivisions where the well-to-do reside.  people do not open up to one another...they do not share...they do not go out after dark...they do not spend time outside their gated and walled-in kingdoms.  they are perfectly sufficient with their separate and individual lives.  people have given in to the reality of crime here and thus are always looking over their shoulders...and do not feel safe...until they are secure behind the high walls of their palaces.  

to many...trust does not exist. 

and yet, in the townships...where crime plays a significant role in the daily lives of people...where women wonder if it is safe to walk around at night...where zimbabwean men considered aliens in this country do not stray from their yards because they do not belong...
this word "neighbor" is beginning to take hold...slowly...but it is there.

one man named Elias told me the other day that ever since a group of men began to meet together in his home (a former bar none the less) on saturday nights (the highest crime night of the week) a presence of peace has begun to settle in and amongst his home and the homes surrounding his.

"my neighbors are settling down," he says

"my landlord has told me he admires what we are doing and tells me that something is different here," he tells me.

"people are beginning to wonder about this peace," he rejoices.

and do you know what?  it's true.

there is a presence of peace in this small section of masi predominantly populated with zimbabwean outsiders.  there is something different here.  

there is peace here. 

and do you know why that is?

because "God is not a God of disorder but of peace." (1 cor 14:33)

his presence brings peace...and rest...and it breaks down walls and replaces the walls of brokenness and sin with fortified walls of salvation and blessing...walls that are from him...and gates that welcome and bring wholeness.  

peace is overcoming disorder on luntu street.  and these men, these brothers in Christ are committed to seeing this peace grow.  they will write love on the walls that still exist in masi...and they will be posted on these walls, crying out for God to spread his peace throughout this place...to replace the disorder and chaos that crime has caused...to break down the walls of deception and mistrust and will replace it with a presence of peace...and of joy...and of trust. (isaiah 62)

these disciples from zimbabwe are becoming neighbors...neighbors to one another...to those living on their street...to masi.  

there is hope here...and the walls are coming down...

and He is rebuilding them with his grace and salvation and hope...

...and i think it is beautiful