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Do you remember the Ghostbusters? I mean the song?

“When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”

Lord, please forgive me my pessimism when I say that there’s definitely something strange in my neighbourhood… A few things actually…

I just spent the last two hours reading political journalist’s bloggs. Plenty strutting, wishful-thinking, mud-slinging, and moral-highgrounding. Makes me want to “cry the beloved country”*

Here come two confessions that require some vulnerability (please be gentle):

1) I have never voted. Yes… I know. I was not in the country for the previous general elections, but even if I was, I fear my dissillusionment with SA politics and an over-riding feeling of powerlessness, combined with a good dose of hereditary ethnic guilt would have kept me from the poles anyway.

2) Having had the afore-mentioned preventative factors neutralized by a souffle diet of government corruption, ineffective AIDS policy, and the alarmingly cavallier attitude of the ANC towards the irrisponsible comments of its Youth League president and the crisis in Zim, I plan to vote in the general elections next year.

But for whom?

All the options present ideological or pragmatic difficulties:

If I vote for the ANC, I feel that I would be propogating the “something wrong” in my neighbourhood.

If I vote DA, I would be voting for a party that the vast majority of South Africans (unfairly or not) view as a “white party” that doesn’t represent them. I’m worrying that my vote might do nothing but slightly strengthen a political party which discribes itself as an opposition party. The problem is that a slightly more powerful “white” party might only serve to strengthen the fear still evident in the average South African that to vote for anyone but the ANC is to invite oppression back into South Africa.

If I vote for the ACDP, (which seems at first to be an appealing option for a Christian in a country with dissolving moral fibre), am I not encouraging a Church-run state? Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We’re fooling ourselves if we think Christians are above corruption. If a Christian party falls from grace, who will the unsaved run to? Not the Church. Besides, I read on their official website that they support the death penalty. I do not. You may. The ACDP can hardly say that they represent Christian morals and policy when denominations and individuals in the Church are not even agreed as to what that means.

If I vote for COPE, I’m voting for ex-ANC leaders who, had things gone their way, would now be campaigning for the majority party and singing along with Zuma about his metaphorical machiene-gun. How can I believe promises of a non-racial empowerment scheme, a president elected by the people and not the party, or a crack down on corruption, when the promises come from these men? Perhaps I should give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they left the ANC because they dissagreed with policy and not because they were annoyed that they were losing power within the party. Perhaps not.

“Who you gonna call?” I know who I’ll be calling over the next few months. This is a time for prayer. We all need the Lord to help us to decide how to vote.

*(Please forgive me if this seems like a rather irreverent allusion – you have to remember that I was born in 1982 and went to a multi-cultural convent school for my early education. I was never educated in the original tears).

So it’s amazing how the Lord has a thing about boxes. I’ve been seeing more and more how God refuses to accept any of our limiting definitions about how He does stuff and who He “really is”. Think about Jesus’ healing miracles. Every time he heals someone He does it differently. He has no method. Have you ever asked yourself why? He is the Ultimate Rebel! I can just see the religious leaders of the day making mental notes as they watched Him:

“Alright! He’s gonna heal this blind guy. Ok… pay attention… you spit on the ground and make some mud… then you stick it in the guys eyes… is he making clockwise circles or anti-clockwise?… Oh! Both… yeah… wax on wax off… ok great! I got it!”

(But a little later…)

“Oh he’s gonna heal this guy’s eyes. Let’s see if I can remember it – he’s supposed to make some mud first… wait-a-minute! He forgot the mud!!… it’s not gonna work!!!… should I say something?… Don’t wanta embarrass Him… Woah! No way! The guy says he can see! He must’ve been faking it! I wonder if Jesus knows?…”

(And so on…)

People love control. It’s what we strive for. The reason we study, the reason we want more money, the reason we marry (and sometimes divorce!) is because we desperately want to feel like we are in control of our own destiny. And this is why we see Jesus rebelling in the Bible and The Holy Spirit rebelling in Church history. For our own sakes and for His glory, He will not allow us to limit Him with our definitions.

Which brings me to what I actually wanted to say:

Lord, I am amazed at You!

Last week I went on an outreach with a bunch of teenagers to (wait for it) the beach! The South Coast to be more precise. We went, not in the relatively dry months, but (wait for it) in the rainy season! We brought no tracts, sound equipment or qualified evangelists, but we did have (wait for it) a gazebo with the words “prayer tent prayer tent” emblazoned on the front and a handful of bibs with the similarly seeker-friendly “can I pray for you?” printed in large black lettering. All this we did because we felt it was what God was telling us to do. So Sheldon cancelled the usual tried-and-tested youth camp and took roughly two rugby teams worth of teenagers to the beach.

Now you might have more faith than me, but I have to confess that the whole thing began to sound more and more like a monumentally bad idea with every passing day that brought us closer to D-day. I felt this way because of the folling reasons drawn from my previous experience with teenagers and outreach:

1) Teenage boys + bikini beaches = “unspiritual” thoughts (to put it tactfully).
2) Rainy days + beach outreach = preaching to irritated local surfer boys.
3) Bright red prayer bibs + overzealous teenagers = religious alienation.

A recipe for disaster in my books.

But to the Author of the Universe, a recipe for one of the most incridible outreaches of my life. People opened up to us and shared their needs and hearts with us. The teenagers were enthusiastic and effective. Even when it rained, we went into town and prayed for people on the streets and in the shops. Every side-alley had teenagers in it, praying for everyone from shop managers to homeless people.

It should never have worked… He forgot the mud… His ways are not our ways.

About Me

Ecstatically married to Leane. Studying Theology and Teaching. Working as a worship leader, teacher, coach, guitar teacher. Living in the Mighty City of Mkondo in the sunny province of Mpumalanga, in the blessed country of South Africa.

Favourite Thoughts – Outbox

Religion is to be defended - not by putting to death - but by dying. Not by cruelty, but by patient endurance. - Lactantius (c.304-313).
What is essential Christianity? From first to last it is scandal, the divine scandal. Every time someone risks scandal of high order there is joy in heaven. - Soren Keirkegaard.
Where there are two Christians, there are three opinions... [Actually a Jewish saying, but at least as true for Christians]

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