The Picture on the Wall
It had been quite the 48 hours. After a mixup with the airlines had nearly stranded two of our traveling companions, and a hop across the pond, seeing the front door of our friend’s house in Melkbosstrand, South Africa was quite a relief.
The house is a split level. The family lives upstairs, and the first floor is an apartment with some spare rooms for guests. As we stepped through the front door I couldn’t help but notice a familiar picture. Printed out on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, taped to the wall, it was a photo looking out of the window of a building with corrugated metal walls. Outside of the window there was a large yellow and blue tent, the kind that you buy fireworks from, and there was a sign on the side that said “WITH GOD NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE”.
To those that live in the Wallacedene township, that was no fireworks tent, it was a church, and a place where three times a week their children could come receive a meal. The window that the photographer had been peering out of was the freshly built Shiloh Christian Outreach Center.
Ten days before that photo was taken 32 cast and crew members had made the trip to to South Africa to help them stage their first presentation of the passion play, He’s Alive! They had been to Wallacedene to help with the feeding program and had learned about the tent. Long story short, it was in bad shape, and if they lost the tent, they would loose the ground that the church met on, and in turn they would loose the ability to serve their community.
People that traveled to help put on a play joined hands with locals and quickly became a construction crew. Money that had been brought for souvenirs was pooled and turned into money for wooden planks, nails, hammers, trusses, metal siding and windows. With some more help from back home we were able to purchase all of the materials to put the building up. This was not going to be the crystal cathedral by any means, but it would be a more permanent home for the church and their feeding program.
Not long after the posts were planted in the ground and the first truss was going up, a large gust of wind tore the tent from top to bottom, we all knew that God had placed us right where he wanted us to be.
Knowing that Garry had been on that trip, I was looking forward to catching up with him and reminiscing about that great trip. As I laid my jet lagged head on the pillow I was thinking about that picture, but it wouldn’t be until a surprise later in the week that I would get a chance to ask him about it.
The Business Card
We had some very productive meetings, not to mention that my girlfriend had agreed to marry me, so by all accounts it had been a great week. It was our last night in South Africa, and we were sitting down enjoying a meal with our gracious hosts.
The evening was winding down, people were splitting off in to little groups carrying on conversations and laughing. I stood up and walked by a high top table, and noticed a business card sitting on the corner.
It must be a popular name locally, I thought, but I was curious, so I asked our host Kevin about the card.
Kevin is a businessman who helps create legal documents and contracts for corporations. He was helping Shiloh with a license for their school and feeding program so that it could be transferred to other townships and communities.
After a few “do you know so and so” type of questions we were all amazed that independently of one another we all had a connection to Shiloh. That small church we had helped back in 1998 had grown up and was reaching well outside of its walls.
With God, nothing is impossible. Actors can become construction workers, a church on its last leg can find new life, and that new life can spread much farther than we can see, or would even dream of.
What will you build today? How far will it go?