Sunday, July 03, 2016

Last Sunday in Africa. We’re ministering at 2 churches we haven’t yet visited. This morning it’s Immanuel Baptist Church in Eersterivier. This is the first church Tony Payne planted, one where I preached on my first trip to Cape Town in 2000. It’s now pastored by Kevin Simpson, a Capetonian whom I’ve known for all that time. He’s 6’6”, and we like standing next to each other just for effect. This morning the team sings a special number and I preach. Since 2007, 4 BJU teams have ministered here, so we feel like old friends. It’s good to see them again, and the affection is warm and genuine.

After church we canvass the neighborhood, distributing fliers for this week’s Bible Club, which will be held here. Since it’s still before noon (church was at 9), most of the folks are in their churches, but that means the people we see in the neighborhood are probably unchurched, so that’s a good opportunity for targeted outreach. Beth, Rachelle, and I team up with Nicole and Leah, 2 girls from the church, and work through 2 or 3 blocks. We come across a group of boys perhaps 11 or 12 years old, sitting on a curb, trying desperately to be grownups. I invite them to Bible Club, and they laugh. Not for us. What would you be doing instead? Smoking. And they laugh again. Well (smiling), I certainly understand. Smoking is very interesting and important, isn’t it? I turn to one of the boys. Would you like to come? He looks sideways at his friends and declines. Listen, if you want to come, we would love to see you. Or you can sit here and smoke. That sounds really exciting. By the way, we’ll have candy.

We’ll see if any of the young tough guys show up.

The Simpsons have made lunch reservations at Skilpadvlei wine estate, a very nice vineyard and restaurant just east of Kuilsrivier. It’s a scenic spot, in the valley just west of the mountains. We get a table on the porch and enjoy the view and the fellowship. The food is delicious—I get hake and chips—and Kevin, Jojo, and I, who are sitting together at one end of the table, enjoy talking about the challenges of ministry here.

Back at the house we take naps and/or work on getting caught up with personal business. We meet Tony at his house at 5 for the 1-hour drive to Strand Baptist Church, over near Gordon’s Bay. It’s a joyous, cordial, interactive congregation where last year’s team ministered as well. Last year they had pudding (read “lots of desserts”) after church, and this year they do the same. The team does special music, and since their pastor is away this evening, I preach on the church’s responsibility to its pastor, and it seems well received. We get along famously.

And then there’s pudding. With homemade caramel custard. And lots of other stuff. Which they insist we try all of.

It’s glorious.

Have I mentioned this is a joyous church? It really is, and their joy is noticeable immediately.

It’s well after 8 when we pull ourselves away and head for home. In lesser beings the desserts would have ruined our supper, but we’re up to the challenge of pork chops and mac and cheese and green vegetables. A handful of the guys we’ve been working VBS with come by and join us, and we tell stories and laugh raucously until 11, when the Old Codger announces that we have an early morning and it’s time to shut down the festivities.

My late mother would be astonished that I said any such thing.

A brief meeting to discuss logistics for tomorrow, and the day is done. Good congregations, good fellowship. Varied personalities, varied opportunities. A fitting end to our Sundays in Africa.

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Dan Olinger

Chair, Division of Bible in the BJU School of Religion.

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