I am going to South Africa in August to work with iThemba Projects. I am going to get to do lots of different things, but my job description includes exciting things like: organizing American and Danish short-term teams, writing children’s devotional material, linking the Hilton community with the ministry of iThemba….children, linking, reconciliation, community development…everything that I love, all in one place!
How do I, a not-even-graduated English major, already know what I am going to be doing when I graduate? Well. I don’t really. Only God does. But, let me tell you some of the story of how he led me to this place of signing up to go work with iThemba.
Maybe it started as a kid, when I realized I was white and spoke English and most of my friends were black and spoke Zulu. Maybe it started when I began first grade and realized the English speaking white kids didn’t sound like my American family. Somewhere I began to be aware of the racial and cultural differences that existed in my world. Since my parents were missionaries, we were constantly moving in and out of different cultural contexts at home, school, and church. And it was normal to always feel like the different kid.
But it wasn’t until I was much older that I realized not everyone moves in-between cultures with a large measure of comfort. For most people, having a deep friendship with someone of another culture was far out of their comfort zone. And I saw the beauty of different cultures being mocked, ignored or belittled by other groups. I saw the fear people had of leaving the place where they were comfortable in order to step out into someone else’s world. And I realized how sad God must be when the Body of Christ doesn’t affirm each other’s differences and work together.
I had to do something after 12th grade, so I started interning with iThemba Projects. I did administrative work, played with some kids at Bible studies and went on a camp. And I loved it. I wanted to stay. But I really felt like I needed (and wanted) to go to college (which meant America). And as I was praying about it one day, I was reading through the story of Joseph. I felt like God was telling me I didn’t have to be afraid to leave what I knew in South Africa with iThemba. He knew my dreams, he knew my heart. I still had a lot to learn. He would fulfill my dream in his own time.
So I left, fully expecting that would be the last time I really lived in South Africa. Fast forward through four years of college in America, learning lots about God, his Church, Racial Injustice, trust, who God made me to be and then stop in December 2011. I was home for Christmas. I had breakfast with Sam, who is in leadership with iThemba. Breakfast turned into a 3 hour conversation about God, his Church, injustice, what God was doing in me. I got a vague job description, didn’t think anything would really happen. But I was excited. So I prayed. And prayed. And then asked for more information and prayed some more. And all throughout the month of January, I felt a growing sense that this opportunity was in line with who God has made me, and what he wants me to do. My church is reading through the Bible in a year. Guess what story we just read? Joseph. We have a Spiritual Renewal week on campus at the start of every semester. Guess what story the speaker is teaching from this week? Joseph. Maybe this opportunity was God’s way of fulfilling my dream.
Right before I left South Africa, iThemba gave me a winter coat. It wasn’t a coat of many colors. It was white. That coat has seen a lot of cold, snowy days. I didn’t think that coat would ever see a South African winter again. But, I am so, so excited at the possibility that I will get the privilege of joining in with what God is doing in South Africa through iThemba.