Travel Journal 2018 — Shavuot!
Back in 2001 Steve and I were privileged to travel to South Africa and spend two weeks at Kwasizabantu Mission near Durban. We were actively pursuing a more intimate experience with the Holy Spirit in a community of like-minded believers setting and from everything we had heard this was the place to go for that kind of experience; we were not disappointed! At that time there were 1200 people living together on 800 acres of land; eating, worshiping, praying, learning, and working in unity. “How did this unity happen?” we asked. We were most curious to know for we had been a part of several attempts at community which had all failed. (We have learned a lot in the process of failure though!)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, Life Together, makes the statement that “community will not happen until we have no other choice.” Choosing to live in the unity of community will not guarantee community unity. We can make choices all day long to do good and righteous things and still fail to live up to our choices. What is needed is what the elders of Kwasizabantu discovered; unity in community is relational and to be relational with one another we must be relational with YHVH. A relationship with each other and with YHVH is more than following a set of prescribed rules and regulations; it is living from the heart of Yashua.
In 1966 after ministering among the Zulu for over a decade, Erlo Stegen, the head elder of Kwasizabantu Mission found himself desperately wallowing in the slough of despond, swallowed up in doubt, and hopeless routine. “Was God real? Was the Bible true?” He no longer had answers, because the answers he thought he had had proven to him to be useless. God was a means to an end and that end had let him down; what else was left to him but a job that had no life or meaning.
In desperation to find meaning in what seemed meaningless Erlo called for his team to come together for a time of prayer, fasting and Bible study. They would study the book of Acts word by word and set aside previous held beliefs and read and study these scriptures like they had never read or seen them before.
As they humbled themselves everyone in the team were convicted on deep levels of the heart and mind and made quick work to forgive, reconcile and make restitution where needed. Erlo too, had his own time at the foot of Yashua’s execution stake. Nearing the end of their second week of prayer and study the team asked if they could have their evening meeting in the afternoon instead as it was Friday and they wanted to get home and prepare for the weekend. They were having their prayer and study meetings in a converted chicken shed next to the tennis courts of the area country club. Erlo came from a wealthy Dutch family who were members of the country club, he had grown up in this elite environment and when everyone gathered to pray he asked his team to close the windows — it was a very hot day — but he didn’t want his family friends to hear him praying with the “blacks”. Immediately God spoke to him, “Erlo, you are a racist!”
That weekend Erlo had no rest as he tried to convince YHVH that certainly not, he was no racist! I have spent my life ministering to the Zulus; that must count for something!
But YHVH held firm and by the time Monday morning meeting came and Erlo walked into that converted chicken shed and saw his faithful team gathered for prayer and study he knew God was telling him the truth and he fell on his knees before his team and confessed to them his sin of racism. As the story goes a sound like a jet engine taking off was heard by all and the room filled with the mighty rushing of wind. The presence in power of the Holy Spirit blew on each person gathered in that converted chicken shed and they were all changed! For the next two plus years they hardly had opportunity to sleep as people kept showing up at their door saying, “God had sent us, now please tell us who God is.” (This drawing of the Ruach is continuing to this day!)
We had a sweet, gentle Shavuot, gathered as family and friends in the foothills of eastern Tennessee. We sang and read the book of Ruth and prayed for the peace of Jerusalem, I told a story of Yashua, and Steve shared his music of the Psalms, but did we rejoice in Pentecost as an experience or as a memory? Am I ready to pay the price for a Pentecost experience or am I content with a memory? How about you?
Micah 6:8, He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does YHVH require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.