Incarnation is extremely difficult within the context of one’s own family, let alone towards neighbors next door. To deliberately choose to live among fellow South Africans in Soshanguve, a township just outside Pretoria, is another matter entirely. I have great respect and admiration for my dear friends within InnerChange, an incarnational order made up of communities of people who vow to live among the poor and marginalized of our world, in as similar a manner and way of life as possible to those around them. I count Luc and Petunia Kabongo as some of my dearest friends here in South Africa, and really value spending time facilitating spiritual direction, reflection, and internal prayer with their team one Tuesday morning each month.
Generally, I arrive just as breakfast has started and join the team for a common meal, followed by one of the my favorite things that InnerChange does as an order, which is spend part of each Tuesday morning praying for an individual + team as an entire order. A team member from one of their 20+ communities sends around a widely distributed email, and ICSA uses symbols from each region of the world to both remember, and intercede for, this particular team. I love sharing in the wider work of what my CRM family is up to around the globe! We then spend time interceding for each other, and the work of mission that God has placed within our hands. Usually, Luc or one of the other teammates then leads a short discussion around some missional content for the morning.
Luc then ‘turns the mic over to Chris,’ which I find awkward since there is no sound system present! It has been a long journey in discerning how best to introduce concepts of listening, discernment, reflective prayer, and spiritual formation to a mixed team of men and women, Africans and Westerners. I find myself constantly having to shift worlds. A simple example of this is the fact that for many Africans, silence of any form is a foreign and relatively unwelcome occurence, as opposed to a central discipline of spirituality for many Western Christ-followers. I try to blend a mixture of reflective journaling, spiritual formation exercises, and open sharing (again, a relatively foreign concept for Africans who are typically used to listening respectfully to any pastor or ‘leader’ who speaks with authority). It’s been a stretch at times, but I am beginning to see some fruit in simply ’tilling the soil’ of a different form of spiritual experience.
InnerChange South Africa is under construction in all ways at the moment, so walking alongside their team as ‘spiritual director’ is really interesting right now. As a team, they are growing (from 3 to 6 full-time community members), doubling in the past year. As a physical presence within Block HH in Soshanguve, they are more and more well known, embarking on a massive renovation/expansion of Luc and Petunia’s home in Soshanguve for the purpose of hosting guests as well as a central ministry location for their growing missional reach.
I love what God is up to in the lives of my friends!