Promise Of A New Day (part 3)
What has the final say? The promise of a new day…
What a waste? Absolutely not! Any question was erased when I returned to Namibia, one year to the day later.
In every community we visited we were asked if the dancers were with us this year. People came up to us sharing memories of the dancers’ visit a year earlier, and the profound impact that it had. We shared Dieter’s place again with teams from Florida and Seattle. A few of their team members mentioned to us that as they were out in the community, people asked them, ‘Do you have the dance team with you this year?’ to which they wondered, ‘What is a dance team?’ Why it’s missions, redefined!
Nowhere was the evidence stronger than in Rehoboth and Arandis, two communities where the dance team had partnered with Hope’s Promise Orphan Ministry. In Rehoboth, Sylvia Beukes, HPOM’s National Director, spent an evening with our 2006 team telling us of the racial barriers that seemed to crumble as a result of the ’05 trip. “Darin, you do not even know what an impact it had. For people in an area where apartheid has shaped their racial perceptions, for those young girls, and their white faces, to have come, and given as they did – not to take, but to give… unbelievable”, Sylvia shared. “The whole community has changed as a result.” I was thankful to have my wife Shari, and Don and Jackie - counting myself that meant four ‘dance parents’ were there to hear the testimonies firsthand.
In Arandis we met Pastor Tresford and his family. They had begun an afterschool program for children that included a dance group. “The children saw the dancers from America and wanted to start a dance team”, one of the afterschool leaders told us. “We want the dancers to come back and to teach us (the teachers) how to teach the children dance.” Brenda Johnston with HPOM agreed, “It really was special and it opened a lot of doors.”
The most heart moving testimony to me was Dr. Erna Both, the Principal of Kolin Foundational Secondary School in Arandis, the school where the girls danced and where one of the dancers, Sam, joined me in bringing the message that day. Back in 2005, Dr. Both was reluctant to have our team come. I remember she was very apprehensive and stood very close by in the event that she needed to ‘intervene’. When the performance gave way to my talk, and we followed that up with Sam’s sharing, I noticed tears in Dr. Both’s eyes. She then stepped to the microphone herself to dismiss the kids back to class and declared, touching on Sam’s and my words, “Don’t forget. The message of this day is boys put away your toys and girls guard your virgins!”
Dr. Both greeted me warmly as we arrived with the band in 2006. She apologized that she wouldn’t be able to stay. She had an appointment in Swakopmund. That in itself spoke volumes to me, as I recalled the tight grip she wanted to maintain a year earlier. “You all say whatever the Lord lays on your heart. I trust you” she said, as she walked to the courtyard where the band had set up – the same courtyard where we had stood one year earlier. “One more thing, Darin,” she stopped. “When are you going to bring the dancers back? That young lady who spoke – we have never had such an inspiring assembly in all my years here. They truly made a difference. The next time you bring them, I’d like you all go into the classrooms for the day. There are also a few teachers here who would like to start a dance team. Perhaps your dancers could work with them to get that started, yes?” Before she left, she turned one more time and took my hand and looked me in the eye, “Thank you!” When the concert was over, members of Dr. Both’s staff came to me and asked if we could leave members of the band to spend the day in the classrooms talking with the students one on one and in small groups. Brenda assured me, this was result of the girls visit a year earlier. That day, members of the band ‘went to class’.
The next evening, the band offered a concert at the Community Center in Arandis. I stood in the back praying as they began. Just a few minutes into their set, I watched as Dr. Erna Both quietly made her way in and took a seat in the back row. Brenda, also walking and praying near the back of the auditorium, whispered to me, “She’s never come to anything we’ve done before.”
What has the final say? Is it a book written by some seminary professor on how to do short term missions? Is it a group of local pastors who look to see what our dollars and our hours accomplished? Is it a bunch of people saying ‘the sinners prayer’ and becoming church people? And now, with every head bowed and every eye closed…
No. It is God, the Hound of Heaven, recklessly pursuing us with reminders of His love; faithfully continuing the work that He has begun in every one of our hearts; meeting some who, like Nicodemus, come by night; meeting others with blinding revelation, as He did with Paul on the road to Damascus. It’s God, sparing no expense; displaying His extravagance; arranging Divine appointments, like perhaps a trip around the world with a bunch of people who just months before were strangers, to wind up sharing glimpses of God under the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. It’s God, who lives in the generative conversations that continue to this day; who takes us all back with a glimpse of a child’s dirty face; the hearing of an African accent; the sight or sound of an accordion – go figure; a t-shirt that asks ‘What would Dieter do?’; or the familiar D-chord riff that begins the song ‘Summer of ‘69’. We were there. So was He. We saw Him… and we continue to see Him. Well worth it!
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