Saturday, 2 August 2014

Everyone Can Give Charity....

"Everyone can give charity, but Jesus gives us so much more - He gives us community.... Family in Christ's love" - Jaco Strydom.

Jordan's post got me thinking about how I could REALLY make a difference in this world. What can I do to have a positive impact on the lives of the homeless, the broken and those suffering. His post came on the eve of my favourite week of the year....TuksMissions Week!

Every year the TuksMissions society organises a week of fellowship, worship and learning....all in the light of Missions. This year's speaker, Jaco Strydom, gave an incredible series of talks. Jaco runs a nonprofit organisation called ECHO Youth Development in Pretoria, South Africa. Between 2002 and 2013 ECHO established numerous houses, or intentional communities, for people in need. ECHO is made up of High School Youth and Young Adults from different cultures living together in 8 houses, called Echo Communities.

ECHO Youth Development hosts weekly youth programs. The community gather every week for communal meals with an open invitation to outsiders. Hundreds of teenagers from needy backgrounds attend Church multicultural services on Sundays. They provide counseling and social services and weekly programs at 9 schools.

Now I'm not meaning for this to be an ECHO advert. I just truly believe in what they are doing as a community of Christians.

The one talk that really stood out to me this week was his take on charity. Jaco has written maaaaany articles on missional-community and strongly believes that anyone can do charity....

"There is a difference between charity and community - and in this context I mean the typical feel good hand-out type of charity verses compassionate caring community with those in need.

The homeless, the lonely, the poor and the suffering need more than our charity, they need our presence.  They need God's people to connect and to at least try to understand. Caring community has a way of making people feel human again, giving them back their dignity."

Now, I am currently working on my thesis which is based in an informal settlement. I have come into contact with many people who are broken, lost and lonely. I remember when I first set foot in Mamelodi East...I was full of energy and optimism...I was ready to change the world! After walking through the streets for only minute I soon realised that the problem was a lot bigger than I had ever imagined....and there was NO ways that I was going to be able to help everyone!!!:/

God then placed someone in my life who would soon become a very dear friend to me...his name is Alpheus. Alpheus lives in, what he calls, "a tiny shack" ...he is 19 years old, finished his Matric, but, like so many South Africans, unable to find a job.

We met when I ran a photography workshop for my masters research.  Alpheus excelled in the competition that followed and, as a result, won a camera. His passion for the art was incredible and we soon began photography walks together. The friendship that blossomed from this has been amazing for both parties. I have learnt so much from him and he has confessed that the whole experience has given him a renewed hope in life.

Having this first-hand experience, as well as listening to Jaco speak about the importance of community, has made me realise that the only way to truly help others is by loving them. And I mean REALLY love them. Nothing compares to giving up your time and pouring out your love onto others.

" While charity might have its place in society, we as followers of Christ are called to journey deeper. We are called as his body to carry His presence in the lonely spaces of human suffering. Not only to give hand-outs, but to connect. Not only to send a light, but to be the light. Not only to share hope, but to be hope." -Jaco Strydom

Peace and love

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