Journey to South Africa
My name is Sabbath McKiernan-Allen. I am a 20 year old student at Samford University. Up to now, most people would say that I have lived a pretty good life. I have a family that loves and supports the woman I am and the woman I hope to be some day. I have good friends who keep me on track as I strive for excellence. I attend a school that challenges me to see the world in a unique way. I believe that all of these things are a blessing from God. Usually I am grateful for that fact. However, all this time I never realized that simply being grateful is not always enough.
name is Sabbath McKiernan-Allen. I am a 20 year old student at Samford
University. Up to now, most people would say that I have lived a pretty good
life. I have a family that loves and supports the woman I am and the woman I
hope to be some day. I have good friends who keep me on track as I strive for
excellence. I attend a school that
challenges me to see the world in a unique way. I believe that all of these
things are a blessing from God. Usually
I am grateful for that fact. However,
all this time I never realized that simply being grateful is not always
Luke 12:48, Jesus, talking to Peter, says “For everyone to whom much is given,
of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will
require and demand all the more.” How
often in my life this verse has been ignored. I recognized that I was blessed with the
things that I had, but I never went the next step to use the blessings to
further the kingdom of God.
of funding generously provided to me by Global Ministries, I was able to go to South
Africa, where I was able to share from the abundance of my own life. In the summer of 2011, I traveled to Cape
Town for a 10 day mission trip. As I
reflect on the time I spent there, on my own life, and on what I know of Jesus’
will, I began to see how connected those three things are.
went to Cape Town with a young-adult missions group from a congregation in
Birmingham, Alabama. We worked with an
organization called Living Hope. Living
Hope has different branches which try to reach all kinds of people. Their main goal is to combat poverty in the
monetary sense and poverty of the mind. A lot of the people we worked with live
day to day with no hopes or dreams, not even looking forward to tomorrow. They seem content to live in 8’X10′ shacks,
despite struggling to find food for their families. Many who live in this area have sex with
multiple partners. In the communities that we worked in 1 out of every 2 women were
HIV positive, 82% of the families have no father figure, and a lot of the
children go days without eating a decent meal or bathing. So our mission team
spent the majority of our time in these communities working alongside the Life
Skill Educators that Living Hope already has in place. We played with the kids
and held a little Bible study, emphasizing God’s love and mercy. After Bible study we were able to give the
children sandwiches or some soup.
members of our group went to Living Hope’s Health Care facilities where we were
able to visit with the patients. One
particular moment, I saw Christ speaking through one of my mission partners at
this health facility. We went with only a hymnal. When we got there, a lot of
the patients were in bed sleeping or just lying still. As Leanna began to sing,
the patients began to wake up or roll over to face her. Some patients went a
step further, clapping or joining in with familiar hymns such as Rock of
Ages. It was a really wonderful
experience. Lifting our voices together
helped me remember we are all truly brothers and sisters in Christ no matter
how different we may be.
whole experience was extremely powerful, but it left me feeling a bit strange
and pretty guilty. Here I am, a girl who has been given SO much. My parents
have provided a safe, Christian home for me. I always have food in the
refrigerator, I have running water and electricity in my house. I don’t have to
share a bed with my brothers and sisters. The things that people in the poorest
communities in Cape Town struggle with on a daily basis aren’t even real issues
for me. I have learned to believe I am always going to have food on the table
and that everything is going to be okay.
I have so much and they have little.
I don’t believe God wants me to feel guilty. I believe God called me to Africa
not to feel guilty but to develop a sense of responsibility. I have seen the
conditions the kids and their families live in. Now it is up to me and people
like me to bring awareness to the situation so that we can combat poverty. And
that doesn’t mean sending these people money or giving them food, because what
does that teach in the long run? That Americans feel sorry for you; we’ll send
money but not spend time talking to you.
is not helping, that is crippling. We, as Christians, want to help our brothers
and sisters realize there is more, so much more to look forward to. In
Philippians, Paul talks about how our citizenship is not here on Earth, but in
Heaven with God. In the book by Denver Moore and Ron Hall, A Same Kind of
Different As Me, Denver says, “The truth about it is, whether we is rich or
poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So in a
way, we is all homeless – just workin’ our way toward home.”
looking back on this entire experience I’m so glad to realize God has an agenda
for me. God has poured out blessings on
my life: now I may turn around and pour
blessings on others’ lives. I want to go
back to Africa and speak the word of life. I may not be able to give these people food or
clean water, but like the woman at the well, I can invite others to “come
and see” as we seek to share the gospel and give the water of life. I can share what I have, working to help the
people of Cape Town not only to survive, but thrive as they are reminded that
God will provide and God is enough.
McKiernan-Allen served as a short-term volunteer in South Africa, appointed by the
Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
and the United Church of Christ.