Archive for 2009 | Yearly archive page
Christmas evening I finally made it to the movies to see Invictus, a story about how Nelson Mandela began to support the Springboks and the game of rugby. As I celebrated the birth of Jesus who came to redeem us and promoted reconciliation, it was a fitting movie.
Since the last place I lived before Orange County was Johannesburg, South Africa, the movie conjured up many emotions and memories of my life working in the township and the racism that still exists as well as the amazing reconciliation largely due to a great man named Nelson Mandela.
I decided I would read the 630 page book, Long Walk to Freedom, while living in South Africa. This book chronicles the life of Mandela and it was wonderful for me to learn more of the history of the place I was residing. There was even an entire chapter on my township, Alexandra, in the book as this was the first place that Mandela moved after he left the bush and where he began his career.
The movie Invictus highlights the amazing amount of forgiveness of Nelson Mandela as he sought to bring peace and unity to a much divided nation. Rugby was a sport that was popular with the Afrikaner or white population in South Africa. Under the system of apartheid, blacks would cheer against their own country as this was such a sign of oppression. When Mandela urged his fellow black Africans to support the rugby team he was going beyond face value and pushing for country unity. It happened to work.
Mandela is the ultimate person to bring peace and reconciliation as there was no other prisoner who endured more hardship. He was in prison for 27 years, 18 of which were on Robben Island. For a man who endured so much pain to be able to forgive in the way that he has is a modern day example for us to live out our Christian life. If others had called for the things that Mandela called for it would not have promoted peace in the same way. The sentiment in South Africa has been, if Mandela can forgive and walk in peace after all he endured then surely I can too.
There are powerful images in the movie that portray what transpired during the Rugby World Cup, most notably to me were the small African boy from the township listening on the radio with the white police officers. After working in a township with the youth and learning about the youth of the townships that led to the up-risings (they even have a holiday called Youth Day) I understand the absolute significance of bringing these two polarized groups together.
I recall when I lived there being absolutely amazed at the forgiveness of the people. South Africa became a new country in 1994 and my time there was in 2006 – just 12 years later. While living there and visiting the Western Cape, on October 31, 2006 Pieter Willem Botha died. Botha was a former president of South Africa who was staunch supporter of the apartheid system and sent many of the ANC to prison on Robben Island. Botha was living in the Western Cape.
My visit to Robben Island was immediately after his death. Here’s what I found to be so amazing on my trip. All of the tour guides on Robben Island are former in-mates. This gives you such amazing glimpse into what life was like as you see their cells and ask them personal questions about what life was like. Well, because Botha was a former president, even though it was under the old system, the new government paid him the respect of any president by ordering flags to be flown at half-mast in his honor; even on Robben Island. Here I was talking with a former prisoner and Botha certainly was the enemy and yet not only did this man return to his place of captive daily to share his story, he was paying respect to his oppressor who even all of those years later refused to fly the new South Africa flag but kept the old flag hanging outside of his house. Amazing.
And while much progress had been made, I certainly did see the remenants of racism. There was a scene in the movie that was very poignant. Francios, the captain of the rugby team, secures tickets for the World Cup for his family. He hands them to his dad who counts four tickets, but is confused because the family is just him, his wife and daughter. But then Francios looks at their black maid indicating that the fourth ticket is for her.
I recall the day that I had a dinner party at my place. I was living on a commune with 26 people, mostly white South Africans. When two of them inquired who I was having over, they were shocked. First I was having my gym teacher, an amazing woman from Zimbabwe. Then I was having over our house-keeper and her son ( it is customary in South Africa to have a house-keeper). The shock on their faces that the woman who cleans our dishes and scrubs our toilets was an invited dinner guest that I was cooking for was priceless. Of course, they were continueally in shock that I would daily go into the township of Alex of my own free will as they were petrified of such a place.
This sentiment was not true of all white South Africans, but certainly the ones I was living with. I did belong to a small Bible study that was made up of white South Africans. They were also intrigued that I would travel all of the way from US to spend time in their country by working in a township. One day they asked if I could take them…none of them had ever set foot there despite the fact it was just a couple miles away. So we piled all of the “mulungoos” (whites) into the back of my bosses pick-up truck and they received a tour of the place finishing with lunch in a sheebeen. I will say that we all had a wonderful time.
When we take the steps to cross the road and learn who our neighbor is we honor Jesus. When we volunteer to sort medical supplies or deliver healthcare of the homeless we honor Jesus. Anytime that we put the needs of others ahead of our own and promote forgiveness and reconcilation we a little bit of a reflection of our Creator.
So today, go see the movie Invictus. Then think about those in your life that need forgiveness and take the first step to promoting reconciliation.
Instead of throwing a holiday party this year, employees at “M86″:http://www.m86security.com/ decided to give back by volunteering their time. The employees themselves actually voted for this option and employee Karen Casey found Giving Children Hope on-line and suggested this option. M86 also did a food drive to help the kids on the “We’ve Got Your Back”:http://www.wgyb.org program.
M86 Security is the largest provider of Secure Web Gateways and the largest independent provider of Web and e-mail content security in the world. We are grateful for their volunteer hours to make a difference in the lives of those in need!
Tonight I made the journey with our Mobile Medical Clinic to the Armory – which opens us in the winter months. Our wonderful partners, the “Illumination Foundation,” the public health nurses, Kaiser Permanente doctors and nursing students from “Concordia University,”: all came together to do wrap around services for the homeless.
When I arrived I saw a long line of individuals waiting to get inside. Most people in Orange County don’t realize the extent of the homeless population right here. I know about it as I talk about it all the time….but I’m not often there on the front lines experiencing it. **As I walked past the mats on the ground awaiting those that would come in, I was filled with tears.** Just 7 miles from my warm home was an Armory opening up its doors for those that had no place to go. All of those that stay the night must leave by 5:30 in the morning. It’s strictly overnight shelter.
While there I did interviews with doctors and nurses to get their perspective. Many of you have followed the progress of the mobile medical clinic. And while we are still raising refurbishment funding and operating expenses we’re on our way and the clinic is out in limited use. I can still hardly believe how God has brought this together and how people are being served. __It’s always humbling to be a part of the BIG plan that God has!__
Tonight as you go to sleep warm in your beds, say a prayer for those who have no shelter or maybe only a mat at the Armory.
Every year a group of friends gets together to raise money in order to get food and toys and other necessities and deliver them to remote villages throughout Mexico.
We never know what ideas people are going to come up with to advance the work of GCHope. Recently, we were approached by the “Buena Park Mall”:http://www.buenaparkdowntown.com/ to be the beneficiaries of a free concert with performers Jason Derulo and Iyaz. Attendees get in for free, but they must bring a toy to enter. The toys will be then be delivered to the homeless children we serve in our community.
We want to thank “AMP 97.1 Radio Station,”:http://www.ampradio.com/2009/12/free-show-with-jason-derulo-iyaz/ the Downtown Buena Park Mall, and the singers all for giving back this holiday season!
Growing up as an American the craze of Christmas flurry is a normal activity. Of course there will be decorations, Christmas parties and gift buying to do. This is normal.
In 2005-2006 I lived in Italy where I was attending business school. This is the only Christmas I have spent outside of the United States. And I was amazed that the focus of Christmas actually stayed on the intent – the birth of Christ!
I bought a single Christmas gift that year and it was for the family I was spending Christmas with. While I had planned on buying them a nice gift, I was instructed that really just a very small gift was appropriate. I saw only a few Christmas decorations – mostly in the town centers. Small Christmas marts would be set up selling small items as opposed to some of the gifts that dominate the American media (buy her a Lexus for Christmas). In short, it was refreshing in so many ways.
**This Christmas at Giving Children Hope I’ve been watching some folks do things counter to our culture but really in the spirit of Christmas.** For instance:
A cooking club heard about our matching grant and instead of giving gifts to each other this Christmas they pooled their money and collected $540 to feed the homeless children in their community. Or one woman who was compelled by the issue of healthcare and human slavery and decided to give $700 – $100 each for seven members of her family as a Christmas gift. This year, instead of a designer pair of jeans these seven members will have used Christmas to provide hope to a community in need. And these are just some of the stories.
When I look at these stories I am reminded of what Christmas is all about: Jesus. We celebrate the birth of our Savior and when we do that we must think of the life that Christ lived and the one that He calls each of us to live. He reminds us that when we do unto the least of these we do unto Him.
How will you celebrate this Christmas?
Voyage of Hope 2009 photos are now available for viewing and purchase. “Click here”:http://www.imagequix.com/photog.php?id=M92M79D&ec=givechildhope2009
Thank you to all of our guests who made this night a success!
A learning community at “Mount San Antonio College”:http://www.mtsac.edu/ comprised of 2 English, a reading, and a counseling class were tasked with coming up with an idea for a service learning project. GCHope was featured by the group who had the best presentation resulting in 64 students and faculty visiting our headquarters to help out with WGYB.
17 administrators, executives, and engineers of “Eaton Corp.’s”:http://www.eaton.com/EatonCom/index.htm Aerospace team from Irvine spent the day sorting and packaging medical supplies and equipment as well as breaking down unusable equipment for spare parts and scrap. As a proud sponsor of United Way Orange County, they enjoy giving back to the community by donating their time to non-profits in the area.
The OC Business Journal has ranked Giving Children Hope #2 based on revenue (which includes gifts-in-kind and monetary donations), only second to Goodwill.
“Read full story here”:http://www.ocbj.com/industry_article_pay.asp?aID=142826&page=2 * You need to pay to read the entire story.