I made my way down the highway in our little car, almost blown off the tarmac by semi’s hauling construction loads and oil tankers. I was also harassed by hurried businessmen in Mercedes and brand new Ford 4X4’s angry because I drove a moderate pace in the slow lane. To be honest, I did feel a little silly, driving 40 kilometers under the speed limit, in an old Renault which should have been washed a week earlier. I turned off the highway, heading to my destination. I had a donation of materials for a high school. A school deliberately placed in the heart of crime and poverty to serve the at-risk children of that area to give them hope for their future.
After another 10 minutes of lefts and rights, I passed a jovial sign, “Welcome to Diepsloot.” Beyond that sign, most wouldn’t find much of life jovial. Shanties built with anything from tin, to wood pallets, sticks, and cardboard, lined the main road and littered the countryside as far as the eye could see. Currently, Deepsloot is the most infamous of Johannesburg townships; violent crimes, gangs, sewage, drugs, moonshining, and riots make living in this area a challenge, to say the least. Granted many of those who live in this challenging neighborhood are really good, well-meaning people, however, Diepsloot has more than its share of bad apples, and not enough economy to get themselves free of sporadic utilities, overflowing sewage or diseases such as hepatitis or HIV.
The embarrassment of my little car gave way to shame, as I was reminded of my rich American status; with a U.S. passport, a safe home, a vehicle, food in the fridge and clothes to spare, I too, like those Mercedes drivers, live in the top percent of the country. Maybe this is a reason why at the end of James, he states that true religion is to love the orphan and widow…to avoid being polluted by the world. If we remain isolated in our circles of comfort, we soon give way to griping and discontentment, because no amount of money or possessions can ever cause us to be content. If we take the time to love and help those around us, we can stay grateful and reminded as to how truly blessed we are in life and how much joy it brings to all when we “love our neighbors”… wherever they may be located.
This month we were blessed to receive a wonderful donation of food for St. John’s Daycare as well as other smaller areas of ministry. A big thank you to our friends, John and Ruth for making this possible! The teachers were delighted to receive the food for the kids! We also confirmed a donation of 30 old tires for the center; we hope to turn them into vegetable beds and play structures for the kids! Stay tuned for photos of our progress!