Wednesday, 11 June 2008

A Heart For Africa...

Today has been an amazing day. But before I get into it let me give you the history behind the story. The other day my good nurse friend Jenn Carrol and I were chatting out on the dock and she asked me whether I would consider getting involved with a Bible Study out at an orphanage in New Matadi, an area of Monrovia. A group of girls along with Jenn already ran one with the girls there. But now there was a need for some male leaders to start up a Bible Study for the boys. And there was also the reason that none of the girls are Ship Drivers and thus had to catch unreliable public transport. Being a rather apprehensive type, I um-ed and ah-ed for a while, prayed about it, and then decided "well, this would be a great way to get involved with the local community". I'm not working shift work for much longer, and so this will be a great opportunity. And so I told Jenn my answer.

Last Wednesday was my first outing to New Matadi. Josh Becker, one of our "Deckies", and I led the guy's group. Imagine the setting. We sit inside a rural church building, with crude walls built of mud and stone. There is a corrugated iron roof, fastened on roughly cut beams. We are seated in a circle in old wooden school desks. Outside are the screams of delight of young children, enthralled in a game of miniature soccer on the dusty ground. And in this atmosphere we study God's Word. And I am amazed. These young men, aged between 16 and 20, are so eager to hear about God. They wanted to learn especially about the passion of Jesus, and the calling of Jesus's disciples. So we started reading through the Gospel of Matthew.

Today we read Matthew 2, a chapter that follows the Magi as they travel to visit the baby Jesus, as well as Herod's reaction to the birth of the Messiah. I have so much to learn from these young men. Their knowledge of the Old Testament (we were looking back at the prophecies - the one in Jeremiah of Rachel weeping for her children) far surpasses mine. Our Bible Study ended up discussing the morals and culture of Israel at the time, as well as looking back to Solomon and his 700 wives and 300 concubines. They discovered that, although this was a cultural practice, it was displeasing to God. As it was these wives who turned Solomon away and blinded him to the One True God. So we had some pretty meaningful discussion.

One of these young men also asked whether we could memorise a verse each week. And so we are starting to memorise Scripture as of today. I have often wanted to memorise Scripture, but have often lacked the motivation and discipline. I believe God has led me to this group for a reason. And He is already teaching me so much. Maybe He wants me to learn more about Himself. To get back to Scripture. Either way it will certainly be good. Josh and I are also going to try and get out at least once a month on a Saturday to play soccer with these guys. Speaking of soccer, I am equally impressed by their knowledge of South African soccer. They know about Bafana Bafana, the name of the South African national soccer team, and ask many questions about my home nation. One of the guys is also a fan of Lucky Dube, a popular South African reggae artist.

The above photos are of the children at God's Children's Home, another orphanage with which Mercy Ships is involved. Just look at the joy in the faces of these children. So much joy in so much poverty. A real challenge for us in our comfortable Western society. So today has been a wonderful day. I feel that this is where God really wants me to be. To be a friend to the friendless, to bring love to the unloved, and to be a light shining in the darkness. Hope and healing. That's what it's all about. God bless.

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