Written by Mike Verkaik, Oceans Outreach Director.
Welcome to my view this morning as I sit in the front room at Oceans Retreat Center and look out upon 16 Recreational Road in Fish Hoek, South Africa. Dawn and I have been blessed to call this our residence for the past two weeks.
While we have been dwelling at Oceans Retreat Center (ORC) the world has changed. The South African borders have closed, our flight home has been rescheduled and the fear of yet a new strain of Covid-19 floods the airwaves. During the same span of time, we have viewed the tears and empty eyes of the homeless, the grieving of a non-believing widow longing for hope, demonic strongholds, and children trapped in the midst of hatred and gang warfare.
That list might seem dauntingly hopeless, however, the word we have heard most frequently and the emotion we have felt most consistently is “peace.” Peace, one of the most precious gifts given from our Father through Jesus Christ. Listen to Jesus’ comforting words as He begins to reveal His earthly departure to His followers:
Sitting here, I watch Fish Hoek wake up just outside the window. I see the door of the orange car in the parking lot across the street open up. Soon *Peter and Susan, a homeless couple, might show up to reclaim their belongings and make their way to the bench on the street. I’ve had several conversations with them during our stay and learned bits and pieces of their life story. We have granted Susan’s request for a Bible, and given Peter a copy of “Stepping into the Lord’s Prayer.” Peter and Susan are one of the many in this community that are sensing our Father’s peace pass through the gates of ORC.
As I ponder the incredible ministry opportunities within Fish Hoek and the surrounding community, the Holy Spirit placed the words of the song Draw Me Close to You by Michael W. Smith on my heart. Sing with me:
“You are my desire, No one else will do. Cause nothing else can take Your place To feel the warmth of Your embrace.
Help me find a way, bring me back to You You’re all I want, Your all I’ve ever needed Help me find a way, bring me back to You.”
Living into that desire is the foundational message for what is done here, and what is prayed for on behalf of the community in this very room. Prayers that the community of people outside of these fences will see and feel His peace through us, as we chose to not let your hearts be troubled and to not be afraid.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14: 27
May we live into the challenge from last week’s blog, to give thanks in every situation.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, and and give thanks in every situation” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
As Dawn and I came to dwell here two weeks ago, peace awaited us, His peace was proclaimed to us, and prayed over us. What an amazing gift given from our Father. Through the prayers, conversations and fellowship, Christ’s bright light of peace shines into even the darkest places in our community.
Are we ready to receive this gift of peace? Are we willing to surrender and trust in the Father in the midst of life’s storms? Are we ready to live in such a way that people in our circle of influence sense His peace in our lives and seek Jesus because of how we live?
It has been a blessing to experience and to see others receiving His peace on 16 Recreation Road. How is the peace within our homes and communities? I wonder if the people in our circle of influence are experiencing Jesus’ words “Peace be with you?”
*Names have been changed.