I received some emails asking how long my tomorrow is – in response to this post. Before I respond let me first say I meant tomorrow in the African sense; which roughly translated means – sometime in the near future.
Why did David Mashele leave for his hometown of Vleifontein in the province of Venda?
Two months ago David and I started spending Monday afternoons together. It has been one of the highlights of my week. Every week was like a treasure hunt, discovering the wonderful fragrances of our God in my brother’s life. I was surprised to find out that David was a pastor and that he planted a church in Venda.
With tears in his eyes he told me of his community and how they serve God together. He recounted stories of life change and redemption. With great excitement he told me stories of his wife – how they met and how she’s currently studying to be a nurse. David shared with me how he spoke at schools and helped young people to see sense in life. When he told me how a twenty year old approached him the other day and thanked him for investing in his life, David lost it – tears cascaded from his face like the Victoria Falls and I lost it too. Why did David leave Venda to come to the city of Johannesburg, you might ask.
I’ll tell you why. David’s congregation is not at the top of Maslow’s triangle. They’re not into self-actualization. You won’t find small groups studying the Purpose Driven Life in Venda. For them life is survival, the weekly offering amounted to R30 ($3). So David supported his family by selling cabbages. Four months ago, David left Venda and came to the city with one thing on his mind – survival.
On Mondays David allowed me into the sacred parts of his life (BTW he gave me permission to share with you.) A certain realization struck me with force. David and I share the same passion for God and his kingdom. We wrestle and struggle with the same call. When he prays in Venda and I pray in Afrikaans, we address the same loving God. Both of us have a wife that we love. So what’s the difference between me and David? The color of our skins; the opportunities of a rich kid compared to the survival of a poor kid – that’s the difference. And I won’t have it anymore.
Last week one of David’s ‘daughters’ passed away in Venda. It’s not a biological daughter of his; you see, David has this amazing sense that the people in his church are family. David headed his call; he would rather suffer poverty in Venda than miss his call in Johannesburg. And David got out of the boat.
David didn’t have time to say goodbye to all his friends at Kleipot Gemeente – so he asked if we could tape a message. We ended our service this weekend with David’s message. He shared with us how he felt welcomed in a white Afrikaans community – he encouraged us to keep on loving God and serving Him with everything within us – heck David’s message brought tears to our eyes.
After the video clip I asked if anyone would like to join me in visiting with David in Venda; to live with his congregation for a few days – to get to know them and learn from them. The response has been overwhelming.
I’m tired of talking about church and postmodernism and self-actualizing. I want to drown in the love of God. I want to serve till my hands cramp. I want to dance with the people of God. I want to see with God’s eyes. I want my heart stretched so wide that people will fit into my self-centeredness. I want God’s kingdom to come in my life.
Even though David is in Venda, he is still a part of our community – may the Lord bless our relationship. And we will journey on.