Blog written by Patty Spykstra
After the July’s Men’s retreat in Colorado, Tim and I had a few days before flying back to South Africa. What joy we had watching our kids ride in the Littleton Criterium and what fun to later cheer on the professional bikers from all over the world. Then on Sunday we worshipped, shared communion, and bid goodbye to loved ones.
Our return flight was one delay after another, we finally landed in Cape Town two days later, grateful the local taxi strikes were in negotiations. Traveling between the US and SA can be an emotional and spiritual transition from one culture to another culture and this time a bit of a physical strain due to my back.
Back at Oceans Retreat Center 19 Zimbabwe boys and their coaches greeted us. I was thankful that one worker was able to spend a few nights on campus, and I knew the worker lived close by. The taxi strikes disrupted transportation for so many. Fires were intentionally set to keep people from leaving townships and blocked roads prevented food deliveries. School were closed for a few days. Wages were lost. The poor were impacted the most.
Since our return, new homeless faces wander Fish Hoek and at night often line their cardboard beds just outside the retreat center. Load shedding continues to impact the country and at its worst-means no electricity for up to 10 hours a day. The recent wind and rainstorms are the worse in a long time to hit Cape Town. Shacks were lost, lives were lost. Tim read about a farm destroyed by flooding-now no crops will be harvested, and no work available for thousands. No work means no money and food shortages are predicted.
Since our return to SA, the devastation and the plight of the poor have left me struggling. I usually see the hope, but this time things weighed heavily upon my heart. The needs are so many and the loss too much to bear at times. Oceans as a non-profit does what it can in tangible ways with donations of food, bedding, blankets, funding and encouragement to those we support. Yet in the big picture sometimes it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. I was tired, weary and feeling the weight of the burden. Perhaps you have had those moments? Days? Weeks? Months? Jesus says in John 10:10
“I have come to give you everything in abundance,
more than you expect-life in fullness until you overflow.”
I was not feeling fullness or overflowing, I knew I had to trust and to let go. In myself I am not capable of meeting all these needs and Oceans Ministries simply cannot be the answer for every individual. Jesus says come to Him and He will give us everything in abundance. This promise from Jesus is not just for me, and you, but also for the poor and those in need. I was once again reminded to let go and focus on our Heavenly Father, to seek His help in every need for myself and others.
And then as if to spur on my act of letting go-this letter arrived from a mom and son who had been a part of an Oceans Kingdom Encounter. A portion of the letter is used with permission:
“We recently moved and while packing things up, we came across several jars/boxes of old coins-mostly pennies and quarters. We decided at that moment that whatever money we found around the house we would donate to Pastor Raymond to help feed anyone in need. Enclosed is a check for $135-our ‘found’ coins! Thank you for showing the Father’s love to many is SA!”
A coin is such a small amount compared to millions of dollars, yet these coins found all over the house made a difference. God is the One to provide in His timing and in His ways. He certainly wants us to do the best we can, yet we in and of ourselves cannot be the answer, He is. The timing of the letter, the check, and the act of obedience were an encouragement and reminder to Let Go Again and Let God.
God takes every little bit we offer to make a difference. The $135 donated by a mom and middle school son was given because they knew the heart of the Father. They came to Him, received in abundance, and the response was to make Him know by giving the gift of the ‘found’ coins.