Posted by: howvoicebegan | 18/07/2010

Mandela Day

Today is Mandela Day in South Africa, which falls on Nelson Mandela’s birthday. The challenge presented to South Africans is to do 67 minutes of community service on Mandela Day to represent the 67 years he spent working toward social justice.

Charity and Faith chose to serve Mamelodi for Mandela Day by passing out food parcels to homes in Mamelodi. I went with a group of 7 people into homes in Mamelodi West, where we told them about the mission, let them know we are there to support them, pray with them, and deliver the food free of obligation.
We were not turned away by anyone; each person invited us into their home to speak with them. Most conversation was in Sesotho or isiZulu, so I did not understand the details but understood the basics. People are struggling with job loss, spiritual darkness, balancing school and work, and addictions. I was surprised each time that they allowed us to pray for them and with them in their homes.

Though a different setting, it reminds me of a similar openness I experienced in Trinidad and Tobago. I was invited to an open mic session. The first person shared a song they had written that was all about gaining wealth, possessions, and the “live fast, die young” mentality. I felt such a darkness in their life and utter hopelessness; when we cling to possessions, that’s when we know we’ve hit the bottom.
But after a few people, a man shared a rap he had written about Christ’s impact on his life. It was so positive and so uplifting, unlike the first person I heard. Then another person shared a poem. Another a song, all about Christ’s stronghold on their lives.

I was awestruck by these public testimonies because of the setting: it was not a church or any sort of religious center, but rather a secular meeting place where they shared their testimonies. They shared them without fear, as such an integral part of their being that they have nothing else to say but praise to the Lord.

This brings me back to the present, Mandela Day. Entering people’s homes and bringing them food, inviting them to church, and praying with them? I was certain we were going to be rejected! Getting up and singing about the hope and peace you’ve found in Jesus in a non-church setting? Wow, that’s really putting a lot on the line.
These two experiences have been rather convicting. Not once has a church group showed up on my door step in America to pour out love and prayer. Not once at an open mic in Seattle have I heard anyone said anything outside of their own narcissism.

I think it’s easy to be critical of culture, both your own and others’ when you travel and experience new mindsets, philosophies, and challenges. But this is one time where I must say the timidity of the American church is hurting those around us and indeed we will be without excuse when we stand before God and he lists names of people we never bothered to contact but had total power to do so. Though I do think that in America it would be much stranger for a group of 7 to walk into someone’s home and start praying with them or to get up and sing about God outside of church, it’s not implausible.

I want to say I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16), and while I do not hide my faith, I am too timid to take a South African or Trinidadian approach! I have much to learn about boldness from them, and I will strive to share more about Who I live for.



  1. You really have a sincere tone throughout this article.

    Spirituality is extremely vibrant in Africa. And as such, I wouldn’t necessarily call it bold because it is such an integral part of how things are perceived (although I do understand that you experience it that way).

    I also want to add that meekness is a quality that many people should strive for and that is probably what I enjoyed the most about this article. It is only through being meek that true sincerity can be shown…

    • This is true- it is much more natural for them to be outspoken about their faith. I only wish it were much more natural in my culture 🙂

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