Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Advancing the Kingdom: Capetown, South Africa

The second article in the new series, "Advancing the Kingdom", comes from blogger Mike Print. You can visit his inspiring and informative blog here: http://mikegprint.wordpress.com  "Advancing the Kingdom" is a series that hopefully will inspire all of us in considering more ways we can serve the poor and needy and advance the Kingdom of God among us.  Each article will give accounts and insights of brothers and sisters who have answered God's call to step out of their comfort zones and serve the Body of Christ. Enjoy the article and be inspired!

I wonder whether you've ever found yourself in a situation where you've thought 'what on earth am I doing here, I am way out of my depth'? Such was my situation in 2005 as I woke in a homeless shelter in Cape Town. I had arrived the previous day with a team from the UK, having spent 3 days getting to know the team and being briefed on what we might face on our six-week trip. We were going out with African Inland Mission (AIM) International to work with St Stephens, Claremont, as they took care of homeless people in their area of Cape Town, South Africa. The year before I had become a Christian and been confirmed in the Church of England and had started attending a local church St Andrew's, Leyland. I felt strongly that I was being called to step out in faith and work for the good of others and I had been helped to find the right team by the Curate of my new church. I had never travelled on my own before and felt fairly nervous as I stepped onto the train from my home in the Northwest to meet up with the team for the first time in London. The team brief had gone well, the people in the team were great and the flight and welcome had been good.

Now, however, as I awoke in the homeless shelter the reality hit home, I had nothing to fall back on, no experience, no training, nothing. For the first time in my life I was forced to rely completely upon God. That morning I prayed like I'd never prayed before simply asking God to take care of me and equip me; 'You've brought me here God, I've been obedient now I need your help to get me through'!

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matt 14:25-29)

Like Peter I had stepped out in faith and like Peter as I now looked around me and saw the enormity of the situation I began to doubt.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matt 14:31-33)

It was at the point when I realised that I couldn't possibly do the work by myself and that just like with Peter, Jesus reached out and caught me. As I grew in my faith and in my confidence with God I was able to do many things I hadn't thought I could possibly do. We worked serving homeless people, going on walks to find those who didn't attend the shelter and inviting them back for soup lunch. I spent time with some of the guys who stayed in the shelter, some who had been drug and alcohol dependent and chatted and prayed with them. I led Bible studies, spoke at church services, played with street kids and even preached my first sermon and believe me none of these things could I have done in my own strength. I learnt over those six weeks that the only thing God asks of us is to trust Him when He calls and then He does the rest. I learnt I can't do what God asks me by myself, but then God doesn't ask us to, He asks us to do something and then equips us to do it. Sometimes God graciously allows us to feel completely lost and out of our depth so that we have no option but to trust Him and through that process God depends our relationship with Him. It's easy for all us to stay within our comfort zones whether we're in our home towns or overseas but I learnt that summer that if we dare to take God at His word and step out in faith we find a whole new world opens up.

So my question to you is this: will you step out in faith, choose to do something bold for God, something where you feel out of your depth and in a place where God alone can support you? Perhaps it will be in speaking to your friend about Christ, perhaps it will be in taking part in an activity or going on a mission trip? Whatever it is God is calling you to do but up 'til now you've shrunk back because it all seems too much. Perhaps I can encourage you to follow Peter out of the boat and trust God to equip you!


  1. Great post! I will be posting a story soon about a food shelter that I have visited in South Africa last year. I nearly burst into tears but I did my crying in the privacy of my own room.

    I have been delaying posting this because I find it a very difficult topic to write about.

    Nelieta travel blog

  2. Thank you Nelieta, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. If you are interested in having your post also appear as part of this series, let me know! I'd love to share your experiences. I can't imagine how painful it can be to serve amidst to much suffering. It's important that people don't get dissuaded though, what a blessing you must have been to those you served at that food shelter.

  3. You are welcome Jessica! Thank you for the opportunity :) I will start writing it within the next week.When you read it you will understand you difficult this was for me.

  4. Wonderful post Jessica,Yes,I have been involved in my own small way,trying to help out in my mission to provide some kind of help to the children of God..I want to share this with you,Yesterday I did something which surprised me,a friend of mine messaged me early in the morning,that he had a very important meeting,and was very nervous..wanted me to wish him luck,I did that,and after that wanted to do something which could help him more..There is a particular place here,almost two hours drive,a kind of a temple,I immediately thought of it..it was a call for me,to re unite me with God,I had stopped visiting any kind of a holy place due to my inner conflicts..I went there,prayed for him,and his deal went on smoothly...I thanked God today,for showing me the path again..so I went to the orphanage I work for,and spent time with the children..had taken cakes,they love that..and felt at peace after a long time.

  5. Ugh. It has been too long since I've done any volunteer work. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  6. What an inspiring article Mike, and thanks for sharing Jessica. The parallel between Peter stepping out of the boat in faith is perfect for this message. Times, too numerous to mention in a comment section, I’ve gone beyond my depth and had to rely on God. In fact, it’s a daily practice of mine to walk in faith and believe Him for all provisions, strength to get out of bed each new day, and just breathe. In Him I live and move and have my being.
    ~ Love and blessings

  7. Alpana...that is beautiful, thank you for sharing that! I think it's awesome that God is calling you deeper and deeper to experience Him more fully. Calling you to that temple to meet with him, drawing you to visit the children and make their afternoons brighter and full of more joy. Thank you for sharing :) Blessings...may God draw you deeper into the depths of His love and may you walk in peace, now and always.

  8. Rachel...it isn't always easy to find the time...or even the inclination, to serve others. Sometimes circumstances take us away from the opportunities and at other times it's distractions. When we do serve others it's often a source of healing and peace to ourselves as well as those we serve. Hope you find that time in the near future :)

  9. Debra...I loved how Mike was able to draw parallels from his experience to scripture too :) I found his ability to find strength in God, through times of unease and discomfort, inspiring. Thanks for stopping by :)

  10. this is a very beautiful testimony mike :) it really made me smile deep inside... i am very grateful to God who not only inspires people to do mission but really go out of their way in order to reach out and lend a helping hand... extending God's heart and arms to those who need them...

    "Lascia la tua terra e va'..." is always a challenge...

    i was reflecting on how we react when God pushes us to leave our place of comfort down to the roads where real love is truly needed... how humbling it is to find out that it is not "we" but "Christ" we bring to the people... and so the great "I" has always to diminish inorder that God will be revealed not our pompous desires to help people nor our desire to effect "our faith"...

    continue mike :)... and thanks jessica sooo much for sharing... my reflection throughout this week is on this :)