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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

A time to worship - Botswana for God

If you've read carefully between the lines, you will have noted that I have somewhat of missionary approach to traveling. This is not a goal, as such, but rather a lifestyle choice. I need to explain this before even introducing today's blog. I have given my life to God. Literally. Every day and every breath belongs to Him. This means, that when I set out somewhere, I seek His will before I even start. I also acknowledge the permanent indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. This means that every person I meet, potentially stand the chance to meet God. I take this responsibility very seriously. When traveling to Botswana earlier this year, I would not make an exception to this rule. I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole host of fellow believers among my new acquaintances. I call these introductions 'becoming familiar with unfamiliar family members' as we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Today's blog focuses on worshiping with strangers in strange country, yet it all seemed very familiar.

A garden feature at the home of my hosts

My hostess had a weekly Bible Study group meeting in her home, and was thrilled to invited to join in while I was staying there. It can be rather awkward for a stranger to join the ranks of such an intimate group. They have no reason to trust your presence there and people can often feel intimidated into silence when there is a stranger in their midst. They may not be willing to open up or share the things that are weighing on their minds. It was a little awkward at first, but we soon learned that we were on the same page and shared a common love for God. Pretty soon things were flowing smoothly. This also served as a great introduction to the local community, as most of the nearby neighbours were part of this group. After the first meeting, I could literally walk down the street and run into familiar and friendly faces.

A local church

As Pitsane, is a very tiny community, it does not have its own church or minister. Instead, a minister from Mahikeng in South Africa travels through once a month to preach to the small congregation who gathers in the large living room of one of the locals. It matters very little which church affiliation you belong to, everyone joins in and denominational issues are simply not accentuated. As the minister needs to be at his own church in the mornings, the service only starts at noon. Afterward everyone remains behind to enjoy a communal lunch before finally returning home for (presumably) the customary Sunday afternoon nap. I spoke to the man at whose house the services are held and was enraptured by his passion for planting a church when he first established himself in the community. It was obvious that he saw this as a kind of mission in life.

Wide skies

One day when I was home 'alone', I was busy painting away with my music blaring in the background, when the cleaning lady stopped by to ask if I would be willing to repeat the song that had just been playing. I agreed and we started talking about music. We soon discovered that there was 'n huge overlap in the music we both enjoyed listening to. The conversation inevitably spread to what I was busy with, and we discussed the creation of art, the understanding and interpretation of it, and what we both liked or disliked about it. Again we found a lot of common ground, and I found this young woman, who does not even have a high school diploma, to be a very bright and eager listener and participant in the conversation. It was only when the conversation very naturally flowed into the other subject that was close to both our hearts, namely our love for God, that we truly understood why we found each other such great company. This lady was literally brimming with excitement over the role that God played in her life. Over the few weeks that I was there, she and I would fall into conversation as soon as everyone else cleared out and she would regale me with small sermons, life lessons and personal testimonies that had both of us praising God right there in the living room. Blessing, as she is called, became my own personal blessing in Botswana, and a fast friend. I wrote her a little poem before I left, which I'll share with you. The poem is simply called Blessing:

Blessing is the name you wear,
and it is one chosen with care,
for you are a sister and a friend,
whose love endures until the end.
Blessings are what you bestow
on all of whom you get to know.
Blessings are your natural adornment,
of which you have a rich assortment.
Blessing, with your painful past,
unlike the mould from which you’re cast,
how did you survive the pain
without a lifelong tear or stain?
Blessing, sister, child of God,
you are your Father’s living Ephod,
a sign by which all of man can see
that God triumphs in you and me.

An original poem by Miekie (Marietjie Uys)

In short, what I discovered was that God was alive and present in Pitsane, Botswana. I found Him in the people I met. I met Him in the survival testimony of the young woman who grew up in a pedophile nest. I met Him in the steadfast and confidence inspiring character of the man who married her. I met him in the peaceful eyes of the wife of a man who was overflowing in his knowledge of the Bible. I met Him in my hostess who proved herself a channel for His Holy Spirit to work through, and a willing Martha to make sure that everyone's needs were catered for. I met Him in my host, whose eyes reflected such a gentle nature and spirit that brimmed with love for his fellow human beings. And my soul responded with a "Yes, Lord!" when He called me up to minister to them one evening during one of our Bible Study meetings. What an absolute privilege to be able to give to those who God allows to cross your path. I am forever enriched for having learned to know them.

Beautiful Blessing

I wish to share one more incident that impressed me about the faith lives of this small community. One family was suffering financial difficulty and it was heart warming to witness how the community drew together to come to their aid with school fees, housing, food, etc. This is the face of Christianity in action. This is the fruit of the Spirit. And this is testimony to God being present and alive in Botswana.

Representative of the close-knit community

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy my books here:
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