“I go about my own business…I reason: the road from Jerusalem to Jericho will always be littered by people beaten and left half dead; I can pass–I must pass–by each without much concern. The indifference that made the prophecy, takes care also of its fulfillment.” –Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, p77.
This week I’ve been in the office a lot, doing admin work to get ready for a bunch of events we have coming up in the next few weeks– organizing volunteers for the Jabulani Kids Club Christmas party, the thank you dinner for the teens who help us out at JKC, a team of 6 Azusa Pacific University students who will serve with us for 3 weeks, and a team of Danish students coming out in January.
Sometimes people wonder why we go through so much energy and time in order to have teams from overseas or volunteers from Hilton partner with us. Surely we could get the job done in half the amount of time and expense with volunteers from Sweetwaters? And bringing outsiders into the community of Sweetwaters might just enforce a misconception that white people have all the resources and we should just depend on them?
These are very real concerns, and something that I think iThemba wrestles with every time we bring in a team or group of volunteers. However, one of iThemba’s aims is to link communities. A very real problem in the West, and here in South Africa, is the problem of indifference. Because of the structure of our societies, it is very easy to ignore those who are on the outskirts, or to arrange our lives in such a way that we don’t have to come into contact with people who are different from us (whether culturally, economically, racially, or spiritually) very often. In Hilton, it is very easy to forget that Sweetwaters is just over the ridge, and is full of people who need Jesus. It’s even easier to forget it is also full of people who may know Jesus even better than we do and might have something amazing to teach us about God.
Those living in the West have a similar problem with those in their own communities who are of different socio-economic levels. What we need sometimes is something to jolt us out of our routine of indifference, and open our eyes to see how we can begin to integrate service, love, and cross-cultural outreach into our daily lives.
Even though helping at a Christmas party or building a jungle gym for a day is not really going to bring about deep cross-cultural/socio-economical relationships, it is the first step in breaking down the wall of indifference. Once the first step is taken, perhaps it will be easier to take another, and another.
Even though it’s complex and messy to link groups that are on opposite ends of the cultural, racial, or economic spectrum–that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. It is something the Enemy doesn’t want to see succeed, so he takes advantage of the many opportunities for miscommunication and offense that occur in cross-cultural situations. I think the difficulties are a sign that we should prioritize and engage in linking communities even more.The early church struggled with having Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor all in the same places of worship– just read Paul’s letters, they are full of issues about who sits where, and this person being ignored, and that group going first. But, the diversity in the early Church was also one of its most powerful witnesses: A witness to the fact that the blood of Christ is stronger than the blood ties of family and culture.
Pray with us:
For the many opportunities we have in the coming days to link communities: Our US Azusa students, our Danish team in January, our Christmas party this November. Pray that real life change will happen as people step out of their comfort zones and get to know people who are different than they are.
Pray for Teens Camp this December. We are taking 50 teens to the beach for a Bible speaker, worship and games! Pray that we will get a good camp speaker, and that all 50 teens will be sponsored (post in the coming days will tell you more about camp!! :D)