Two week ago I went away with a mixed group of young people connected in different ways with Scripture Union. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the story of God, examining our communal identity as God’s people, exploring what it could mean to be missional & then dreaming about what the gospel as good news could look like to our communities.
I unfortunately had to leave a bit early as my wife who was with me got really ill. Honestly I did not think it had gone that well. Not awful but I really was not sure I had connected with the group.
When I sat down a week later to debrief with my friend Darrel who had organised the time way, I was stunned to hear stories from the rest of camp. In an area where teenage pregnancy is a real issue one girl wanted to create space where young people can talk about sex, ask questions and slowly they could listen, love and speak the good news. But what about for those who are whom it is too late – they are already pregnant or teenage mothers? How can we bless them? They never have any time or money (or inclination?) to look after themselves or do their hair etc. What if we model the gospel of the Jesus who loves and blesses the unworthy, the undeserving (i.e. those who have themselves to blame for their predicament)? What could that look like? What if we pamper them, help them with their hair or nails or make-overs – and maybe even look after their kids for a while.
Another young man wants to offer free haircuts (or cheap ones) to the young men in his area. It is a poor area, with little money and employment but yet every week the young men will make sure they have their hair cut with their “fade” just right. What if we cut their hair, listened to their stories and engaged with them at their need for the right image or significance. What if we could model a new image to them, the image of Christ -the church- who bless and love the self-absorbed?
A third young man spoke about connecting with the kids in his street. They are always there – playing in the street and often getting up to no good. What if I committed to playing soccer with them, getting to know their names, what if I organised some special activities for new? Perhaps I could start a “kid’s club” for them – not one at the church or even for church kids. But something, so contextual – right there in their own street – for them, by one of Jesus’ followers who lives just 2 houses down?
Honestly I do not know what will happen with any of this but perhaps there are just a few sparks of Kingdom life, struggling for life, in a few communities around Cape Town. May the Spirit fan into flame these sparks of hope, of joy, of beauty and of grace.