We recently had a great team from a high school in Denmark come out for a few weeks and help us work on the community center site and build relationships with the kids in that part of Sweetwaters. The team was able to level a soccer field (whohooo!) and the following week, teens from our Saturday teens club in Sweetwaters came to plant grass on it. In a little while kids from the community will be able to start using it. In an area full of beautiful rolling hills, a flat piece of ground to play soccer is a pretty great thing. The team was also able to help run a two-day holiday club for the children who live around the community center. Because of the “hype” of having a huge group of foreigners in the area, a lot of kids and parents came to play games and have fun together and learn about what iThemba is doing. So in other words… this team was awesome!
But here’s a story that really made my heart sing and I wanted to share it with you. I heard it second hand, but I’ll take poetic liberty and tell it like I was there. Each evening, the Danish high school students would sit around and share about their day together. Towards the end of the trip, the group leader asked the teens to share a moment that really stood out for them. I love this story, because it shows how when someone lives like Jesus, it changes everyone’s perceptions, it rattle’s everyone’s comfortable boundaries and it invites those on the outside to come in closer. Here is the story that one teen shared:
“We were going with Nathi to his afternoon Life Group. As we were walking through the streets, this man started following us. He was calling out to Nathi in Zulu, and we couldn’t understand what he was saying. He looked as if he might be a little drunk, and that made me uncomfortable. I just wanted the man to go away and leave us alone. I was hoping that Nathi would just send him away and we would be able to have our Life Group in peace. Instead, Nathi stopped and talked with the man. He told the man that Life Group was for children, but the man could come to the house, watch the games, and listen to the lesson if he didn’t disturb anyone. If he was disruptive, Nathi would have to send him away. The man came with us, and sat quietly through the whole Bible lesson, listening to every word. I realized that what Nathi did is what Jesus would have done. Jesus didn’t send people away, he invited them in. He welcomed the people that everyone else looked down on. Like Jesus, Nathi was throwing open the doors and saying, “Come in! You’re welcome here! There’s a place here for everyone! And who knows, maybe God used a children’s Bible lesson to change that man’s life.”