South Africa Team Blog #3: Less than 4 weeks to go!

With less than 4 weeks to go, I am beyond excited to be part of our team to South Africa. The training is complete, the team bonding has been excellent (what a team!), and the job roles have been distributed by a very organised Rowan and Joanne Zeelie. I am privileged to be heading out as a representative of Home Missions for the Methodist Church in Ireland. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m working as a Community Outreach Worker with Sandy Row Methodist Church (BCM) in inner city Belfast. My role is Sandy Row has been teaching me that God wants us to take risks for him, to get our feet wet and go beyond our four walls of our churches and get our hands dirty working on the frontlines of each of our communities. In our training we have been hearing about what our partner churches in South Africa have been doing, and I am excited to see that God is moving and people are responding!

The churches and people are meeting the needs of their communities in so many different ways. What can we learn from the people of South Africa? What are the challenges we are facing in Ireland which we can help to combat on our return home by putting our learning into action? What changes does God want us to make in our congregations?  How can we continue to advance God’s kingdom on this earth? These are some of the questions I hope to be able to answer during my time in South Africa. I’m learning that our churches are not going to be able to stay the way they are for very long. We see our church pews emptying and we need to wake up to a new way of ‘doing church’. What that looks like I am uncertain, but I know one thing is for sure that God will not give up on us.

I feel this South Africa team is going out at exactly the right time in the midst of big changes in the Methodist Church in Ireland, not to necessarily ‘do’ but to ‘learn’, and we continue to pray that God will speak to us and teach us. Although this will be my first time outside of Europe, I am being constantly reminded by God that no matter how far I travel around the world, He is the same God that goes with us – The God that we serve in Ireland is the same God we will serve in South Africa! Our God is MIGHTY, our God is ABLE, and our God wants us to listen to him so that the future is not in our hands but His. Let’s bring on the challenge of South Africa and see what God is going to do and say!

“I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the spirit to fulfil God’s creational intentions” John Wesley

Blessings,

Stuart Crawford