Saturday 21 March 2015

The need for discipleship

Discipleship is a strange term that we band about in Christian circles. It’s a kind of mentorship with a focus on drawing people closer to their relationship with God, rather than ploughing them with their own ideas. However, when discussing this outside of the mission environment, I prefer the term mentorship as a more accessible term.

I regularly mentor one or two students studying at the local Youth With A Mission (YWAM) campus, here in Muizenberg. We go out and have a coffee at a local haunt and have a catch-up. The difference is, rather than a friend, I am a mentor. This means that I have a certain aim with which I have the meeting and there are certain roles to perform, although the tone of the conversation remains relaxed and friendly. The purpose of each student receiving a mentor is to help them grow in what they are learning and directly apply some of the concepts, not just theoretically in their head, but practically in how they live their lives.

A mentor needs to be mentored
One key element to mentorship is that each mentor needs to be mentored themselves. I, myself, am mentored for about 2 hours every two weeks by a senior staff member who challenges me on areas in my life that he feels I need to grow in. There are some statistics that encourage me to pursue these small meetings and see the value in taking time with the individual.

OK, let’s  return to the term discipleship. If I have one person who disciples (or mentors) me and I in turn disciple (mentor) two others, meanwhile teaching each of them to invest in the lives of two others, within 31 years we would’ve reached a billion people! We cannot underestimate the importance of spending quality time with people and encouraging them to grow.

My learning curve this year is twofold: learning to listen better and learning to ask good questions. As I learn to listen more intently to my mentee and bring questions that deepen his understanding of concepts, I learn also to be comfortable in the silence that follows the impact of a good question. The question isn’t meant to stump the mentee, but make them stop briefly in their tracks and become more self aware of what they are sharing and how it is impacting them right now; allowing them to go deeper into what God is doing in their lives and how it impacts their circumstances and affects others around them.

Discipleship vs. mentorship
Discipleship is about listening: first to God, then to your mentee. It’s about walking alongside someone as they traverse the challenges of their life. It’s about saying: I care about you, where you are going and what you’re doing; I’m praying for you and I want the best for you.

People are valuable to God. The great commission is there and still hasn't been fulfilled. Jesus commanded us to go and disciple nations. 

Each individual is valuable to God and we must hold what they share with us as precious as we do our own lives. The impact a good mentor should never be underestimated. 

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Another sleepless night

After 7 months of disturbed sleep from having a newborn baby in the house, we were sleepless last night for a different reason: fire.

Muizenberg mountain - a mountain range just a few hundred meters from our front door was on fire. And not a small fire either. The night sky was lit up with an orange glow and the sound of crackling could be heard as the fynbos bush was burning. Yesterday fear struck the city as we watched it spread, out of control, to many parts of the mountain range in very difficult places to reach. Added to that was the fact that yesterday was the hottest day on record in Cape Town for over a hundred years!

There's a helplessness that you feel when you see such things, as roads are closed and traffic is gridlocked right down the peninsula. Helicopters were flying overhead dropping large bags of water which they'd scooped up from the Vlei (the lake just by our house). Joshua was super excited to see all the activity with fire engines continually passing, planes and helicopters all trying to tackle the blaze. He also showed great concern for the fire to be put out, grabbing our garden hose and pointing it at the mountain and demanding that I turn it on!

The community has been awesome throughout this time. The fire and rescue service has been blessed by countless gifts of food, ice, drinks and other offers of help. Residents have united together in a common cause: put out the blaze. Facebook has been a wash with dramatic images of the fire. It is quite a time to be living in Muizenberg. I don't think we'll ever forget this time.

On the one hand there's the desperation to put out the fire to stop it getting near any more houses (it has already raised a few to the ground), on the other hand the fires which happen every 5-10 years are essential for the rejuvenation of much of the flora and fauna that populate the mountain range. Table Mountain national park (which the range is also known as) has more types of  flower than the whole of England! Many of them need the heat of a fire to burst their seeds and spread.

Having said that, the local residents who have lived here for years say that they've never seen the fire so big and spread so fast as it has over the last couple of days. Please pray for this city to be able to pick itself up from this dramatic event which captured us all and to get back to 'normality'. But also pray for a continued growth in the community spirit that we've seen over the past few days - people serving and supporting one another. It was truly beautiful to see.