“…so that you may remain blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…” (Philippians 2:15, NIV)
Inanda Seminary’s motto taken from Philippians 2:15 calls us to “shine where we are”. This past weekend, it seemed to me that the stars aligned themselves, to the glory of God.
Many faithful gathered together, and aligned themselves, at the Cebelihle Children Home in kwaZulu-Natal on a bright and shiny Saturday afternoon. It has been a privilege over the years to minister alongside many ‘stars’ and it was a great joy to see many old and many new ones cluster together in fellowship.
From 2005 to 2008, the KZN Region of the UCCSA HIV and AIDS Desk supported Cebelihle, a ministry pioneered by Deli Sibisi. During that time, through the assistance of Laura and Gordon Mackenzie, the United Free Church of Scotland financially facilitated the construction of a new home in Hammersdale. When working for the HIV and AIDS Desk, I linked Cebelihle with the Bethel Congregational Church, UCCSA which I also served. Over the years, Bethel has faithfully maintained its support of Cebelihle through COSA (Cebelihle Orphan Support Association).
Last weekend, Deli invited us to celebrate the opening of a newly constructed second home for the children, through the support of Bongani Khumalo, director of Jump Start. How wonderful was to see the sustainability and growth of a small ministry. How wonderful it was to see those who I remember as toddlers and pre-teens now growing into young adults and future professionals.
Joining us at the opening of the new home were two visitors from the United States (Becky Daniels and Ellie Fratt), Sabbath McKiernan-Allen (a Global Missions Intern) and my daughter, Madeline, all of whom many at the event mistakenly thought had flown from the USA just for the day’s event! Because we arrived early, one of the children treated Becky, Ellie, Sabbath and Madeline to a lovely township tour on foot. I instead dashed off to meet the Reverend Joey Naika, the new minister of Bethel church, and direct him to the event. When Joey and I met, to my absolute delight, I saw that in tow were half a dozen cars and vans containing many of the church members. What a wonderful reunion we had!
Following the service during which representatives of the local chief, Department of Welfare, Jump Start, Bethel (COSA) and community spoke, we had the opportunity to bless each and every room in the home (much to the chagrin of Leon Lambert, the Master of Ceremonies who ably kept a tent full of worshippers patiently content during the protracted affair).
After all of the formalities, it was time to eat. A large feast was had for all, including pudding! What a full day. While many tears were shed, we expressed our appreciation for the day and meal. With many hugs, we said our goodbyes to the children.
Scotland, USA, Bethel UCCSA, Inanda Seminary, Jumpstart and Cebelihle for one afternoon aligned themselves, with God’s will!
Gracious God, thank you for the bonds that unite. Through your spirit, race, class, gender, age and even oceans are transcended! Thanks be to God. Amen.