Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Power of Vulnerability

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Following on from my post on vulnerability I found this incredible TED video about ‘the power of vulnerability’.

An amusing and heartfelt talk from Brené Brown who realised to her dismay the importance of vulnerability through her research and it ended up changing the way she lives, relates and parents.

I really really recommend you watch this, it’s really insightful.

If you can’t see the video above, you can watch it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

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Driving – A lesson in vulnerability and humility

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Not a quote from me, but a cool image I found...

Not a quote from me, but a cool image I found…

I sent an email to lots of friends the day before my driving test, to ask them to pray. And I posted it on facebook. Public statement made.

A friend replied and said it was brave of me to let people know before the test. She said that some people might wait until they had passed to tell people.

I realised it had been a decision on my part to be vulnerable – to share my life with my community, to ask for support, to let them in. And I realised I’d grown. In our culture vulnerability is seen as a bad thing but choosing vulnerability is something I’ve been on a journey with God about for a while. I used to (and sometimes still do) think I need to be the strong one, the together one. I need to be fine. But in this particular journey I’ve been realising that vulnerability is not what I thought it was. It’s not sharing something personal about yourself with someone, it’s allowing others to see you when you are weak, when you are confused, when you don’t have it all together, when you are not fine; to not always have to be strong. That’s something I’ve wanted to grow in and actively choose.

So when I didn’t pass my driving test the temptation was not to tell people, yes that’s pride welling up. But I had to because I had told people it was happening and people were asking how it went. So I told people, by email and facebook, public declaration, forced into squeemish humility of admitting failure. Trying to obscure it slightly with humour and breezy nonchalance.

And the responses came in thick and fast: reassurance, hugs, love, kindness, affirmation, hope, encouragement. In my place of weakness and disappointment I felt held. I felt known, accepted and loved.

Choosing vulnerability seems costly at the time but yet if I hadn’t chosen that, I wouldn’t have felt the richness of the love of my community in that place of weakness.

It’s a good lesson for me to know I don’t have to get everything right and to know I’m still accepted and loved.

Of course last week’s events were a very small thing to be vulnerable about. Many people fear vulnerability, fear being taken advantage of, fear being kicked when they are down. Sure maybe we need to be wise about who we are vulnerable with but without vulnerability, without admitting we are human and a work-in-progress and without choosing to ask for help, we can’t experience being known and loved for who we really are, held even in our place of weakness. It allows others to see that there is a place for them in our lives.

Maybe in some ways the level of community and connection we experience depends on the level of vulnerability we choose to show.

You may also want to take a look at:

Emotional vulnerability equates courage

Wow I’ve just found an incredible TED video about vulnerability, I’ll post it…

Peace in Manenberg

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Following on from the posts, stories and video I put up about what’s happening in Manenberg, here is an extraordinary story about how God is using the Fusion team, their presence and prayer to shift things in Manenberg in the most amazing way. It is written by my friend Clare, you can follow her blog if you are interested to know more. itisnolongeri

I probably wouldn’t believe me…

Monday 11th February 2013, morning prayers at the Fusion offices:

As has become our habit/ritual/rhythm, we began the week asking God what it was that he wanted to release over us in the week and what might come against those plans, or block their path.

storm

Fatiema (prophetic declarer of truth and giggler) had a picture of dark storm clouds coming over Manenberg, but we, the Fusion community, were standing with our arms out pushing back the clouds – it wasn’t difficult but a simple matter of standing and pushing them back.

During last week, there was a stream of circumstances that looked like those storm clouds coming over Manenberg, in relationships, struggles with substances, in disappointments – but as I lay in bed on Thursday night, praying for the declaration that gang war had been called in Manenberg…I knew it was time to stand up; that this had been the storm we’d been waiting for. A text went around that night to call us to pray and then Friday morning at the Fusion offices we did battle.

We spent a few (very sweaty) hours worshipping before our loving father, declaring truth, walking in personal freedom, dancing, shouting, screaming, being still and listening to a voice we trust. As we worshipped a miracle happened.

Raymano and I watched as three young men ran with their guns to shoot…everyone else was too busy to notice. So I turned the music up real loud and prayed a prayer I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to pray – but I called down a spirit of confusion on those young men, that they would not know what they were doing and that they would turn around and come home and put their guns away. Raymano and I then saw those same men come back having not fired a shot. WHAT?!?!?

And as we worshipped, the spirit spoke with us about what our strategy in pushing back these clouds would be. We would worship and we would walk. We went and prayer walked outside on of the primary schools that the gang had “promised” they were going to shoot beside as the kids came out of school – they could hide amongst the people that way. And so we stood there with terrified parents, frantic kids, and people for whom this was just too normal.

I asked Patrick what to do if they actually started shooting and he told me to lay flat on my face. I must confess, even though I believed God asked us to be there, my body looked chilled, my heart said otherwise! But we continued and then we got back to our offices…no-one had shot yet.

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When I got home, I saw a message from Raymano on facebook saying PEACE had been declared in Manenberg.

Peace.

What a beautiful word.

I could not believe it, and yet why was I surprised because that was exactly what God had promised – but so often all we see is our prayers going into the heavens and while we believe that something is happening, what we really long for is to see our prayers hit earth, with force, to see change in the physical. And that is what we saw. And our faith has been raised, we’ve spent the last week prayer walking, giving out free muffins, declaring truth with more conviction and hope than before, and continuing to pester heaven with our desire to see more hit earth…

There is so much I long to see on earth as it is in heaven, and I sit with this difficult tension of the young lady from my last blog, (http://itisnolongeri.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/what-about-when-its-hard/) who we continue to love in the heavenlies but struggle to help her on earth, with gang fights that through worship, stop…yet young men who battle to let go of their gang ties despite seeing light defeat its darkness. But I believe more than I did last week, I am free-er and I’m topped up on hope to continue the battle.

Our Father in Heaven

Hallowed be your name

Your KINGDOM COME

Your will be done

On earth as it is in Heaven

Give us today our daily bread

And forgive us our sins

As we forgive those who have sinned against us

Lead us not into temptation

Deliver us from evil

For thine is the KINGDOM the POWER and the GLORY

forever and ever

Amen.

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This was posted on The Great Escape blog and it really amused me… hope you enjoy it

Rambling with a Cantankerous Old Mule

I’ve worked with my fair share of children at church, and love their naive, innocent response to the world around them. Some time back I came across these “Dear God” notes on someone’s blog (if it was on yours, forgive me for not citing you – I don’t remember where I found it). Is there one that really God got you laughing?

Dear God

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Personal Story from Manenberg

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Following on from the last two posts about Manenberg and the work of Fusion, I wanted to share this fabulous short film about the life of one young man whose life was turned around by God, through the committment and love of people at Fusion and The Warehouse.

I Dream Manenberg from Richard Bolland on Vimeo.

Dowayne is a 19 year old teenager living in Manenberg, South Africa. Caught up in drugs and gangs from the age of 12 Dowayne as well as many of the teenagers living in Manenberg have a compromised hope for the future. His father left when he was born, his mother is a drug dealer, he witnesses violent crimes on a daily basis and has been involved in numerous crimes himself. Through the help of a few dedicated individuals Dowayne has pulled himself out of the cycle of abuse and is working towards a new hope: To be the spark in his community of darkness. This is a story of Dowaynes life and his dream for Manenberg.

http://www.projectcapetown.org
http://www.richardbolland.co.za/?p=169

Psalms of Manenberg – and Background to Fusion

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fusion fusion team

Following on from yesterday’s post from Clare’s blog about the raw realites in Manenberg, I thought I would share with you a ‘psalm’ or God-poem written by one of the young adults that Fusion works with in Manenberg.

Below that I have given more background on Manenberg as a place and Fusion as an oraganisation.

The power of God’s love and community shouldn’t be under-estimated.

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Psalms of Manenberg

“I searched but never found, but what I found was love..

Well, not the kinda love I was looking for.

Let me rather say more than this and it hit me from my feet – I don’t know if I want it.

You look for it when you down and out but you don’t want it when it lifted you up.

It might sound insane but believe me I was there…but never to be seen there again.

Sometimes you just can’t see what it is or how it comes but its there,

It was there all the time, even before time.

And it will be there even when time is no more

Just got to want it.

Ask, seek, knock

Amen”

Manenberg

Manenberg is a largely Coloured community on the Cape Flats, on the outskirts of Cape Town, where clotheslines span across apartheid-government-built housing and children play in the streets – the back of Table Mountain visible in the distance. Established in 1966 during Apartheid, Manenberg was labeled as a “non-white area” and created to house a forcefully displaced Coloured community under what was known as the Group Areas Act. The Coloured population is one unique to Southern Africa. A mixed race that stems from a combination of Caucasian, African and imported Malaysian slaves, they speak mainly Afrikaans, and over time have formed their own unique culture, different from both the white and black cultures that coexist in South Africa. The township has high levels of unemployment, overcrowding, overpopulation, drug use and a disturbing reputation for high levels of gang activity and warfare. Despite such marginalization, the community has a strong sense of culture, and is a resilient population. They continually strive to take back their community, trying to provide a neighborhood that they have created for themselves instead of one that the old Apartheid Government dictated to them.

Fusion

Fusion is a project linked with The Warehouse (the charity/NGO I partner with in SA). Fusion is a praying community who builds meaningful relationships with broken young people caught in cycles of destructive behaviours. It is a community-based organisation that functions as family. They are cultivating a Transformational Community of young people formerly involved in lifestyles of destruction in order to help them choose an alternative way of life. This involves counselling and active mentoring as part of the community, and encouraging those young adults to then mentor others as they move forward.

Fusion works with high-risk young people (aged 18-25). As a result of the gangsterism, drugs, abuse and criminal activity, many children in Manenberg grow up without positive father figures and role models which, in turn, perpetuates the cycle of dysfunctionality. Mothers are often left to raise multiple children largely unaided, leading many to substance abuse, which can result in inappropriate subjection to trauma and distress to the child from an early age. These same issues drive young women into abusive relationships, prostitution, and places of low self-worth and hopelessness. The young men and women who are most vulnerable are often unemployed, poorly educated and already involved in criminal and violent activities.

BUT, Fusion believes things can change.

Restored High-Risk Youth

Local young people with global horizons
Young people mobilised to be positive role models living in Manenberg
Young people who value learning and education as a means to future employment and independence
Physically healthy, vibrant young people
Young people equipped to thrive personally and in their relationships
An army of young people with their identity rooted in Christ.

For transformation of high-risk youth, Fusion honours them as:

People who are full of gold waiting to be pursued and found
Individuals deserving of time, relationship and persistent, non-judgemental love
Needing a friend to walk alongside them to help establish healthy life rhythms
Hungry for an alternative community to replace their previous destructive communities
Loveable and able to learn how to love
Oaks of righteousness who will rebuild and repair Manenberg

Please keep Clare, Patrick and Jonathan in your thoughts and prayers. They and the Fusion community are going through a tough time at the moment. But the light is stronger than the darkness…

What about when it’s hard?

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Written by a dear friend, Clare who is working with a project called Fusion in Cape Town.  Currently they work in Manenberg, a very broken community where gangsterism, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence dominate.  But, motivated by their hope in Jesus they know that there is more, there is better for the young people they work with.  They pray, they walk, they meet and they befriend young guys and girls between the ages of 16-24 who are at “high-risk” of causing damage to themselves and others, and usually already are.  Fusion provides community for these young people who have been rejected and abandoned by society and a refuge where they will be loved, forgiven and hopefully shown that they have a loving Father who wants to be with them.
 
Life is so hard, so fragile. It’s a side of the city that the tourists don’t see.
If you are into praying, please pray for her, for her team-mate Patrick and for the guys they work with and care for.

what about when it’s hard?

Last week was one of those weeks, and the one before, and the one before. January has taken its toll on me and I am tired. Tired, not in my body but in my heart.

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Tired of seeing people hurting, tired of seeing people getting hurt by others, tired of seeing people who are so used to hurt it just seems normal. It’s not…right?

I wanted to share with you one day in the middle of these few weeks to give you an idea of some of the realities I/we are facing here.

It was a Wednesday morning and Patrick and I were at The Warehouse for prayers and the staff meeting. Our boss, Jonathan, is off on sabbatical at the moment. During the prayer time I could feel my phone ring in my pocket, then I got a second buzz to tell me there was a voicemail – I quickly checked to see who it was from, it was Jonathan. Why was Jonathan calling me during prayers? He knows we’ll be in prayers, there must be some kind of problem.

A friend of mine that we’ve been supporting for a long time is hitting an all time low at the moment (the butterfly girlie from http://itisnolongeri.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/picture-this/). Her health isn’t good, and I have ongoing low level anxiety about her wellbeing. When I got this call from Jonathan I knew it was about her, my mind started to race and I thought maybe he was calling to tell me she had given up on life and it was too late…I didn’t know but for those 10 minutes, I couldn’t get rid of that horrible feeling in the pit of my tummy.

Anyway, I eventually got to listen to the message and it was about our butterfly, but just to say that she had been rushed to hospital yesterday and was very ill. Patrick and I headed straight to Manenberg to see what was going on and we found her in bed at home. The sight of her laying there, tiny and hopeless, she was clearly someone who had given up on life. We had a chat and said we’d be back later to hear what she wanted to do. We then spent the next few hours trying to find her options in rehabs or hospices or whoever would take her. We went back to see her in the afternoon and she had decided to go and visit the drug counselling people close by the next day.

Then, just as Patrick and I were about to leave the office to go home, a gun battle erupted outside the office. The shooting went back and forth for longer than I’ve experienced, and frankly, I was pissed off. It was literally the last thing I needed that day.

Why do I tell this story? Because sometimes my days are full of death and violence – I don’t want to glamorise life here, or ask for pity – but simply to let you know that some days it’s really hard. Some days I don’t think I can make it.  Thankfully, those days are often balanced out by the days of celebration or laughter…but not that Wednesday, and not the week around it. I later chatted to Jonathan who encouraged me that this is what we do…we’re not here to pump out all the good news stories but to hold people as everything around them falls apart and to love them, and love them, and love them.

But it’s hard.

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together”