Finding Family in Africa

We arrived in the Netherlands yesterday after a week in South Africa, my first visit to the community there. 

What an eye-opening and wonderful visit we had! South Africa is truly beautiful, but not in an ostentatious way. There’s something very earthy and familiar about it. I felt as if I had visited the coast of New Zealand, the Hill Country in Texas, the Dales of Scotland, the red-rock canyons of Utah and the Colorado mountains all in one drive.

The community’s little farm demonstrates their efforts to truly live the vision God has given us in Texas. Driving up and seeing the sign for “Heritage Bakery“ with Sister Lulu’s smiling face while holding sourdough bread truly warmed my heart! The grounds were orderly, and they served us a delicious lunch at their bakery/café. There’s something so incredible about seeing all the familiar aspects of our community life done with a South African flavor—handmade crafts, homemade food, small-scale agriculture, simple dress, even the word of God in the meetings, spoken with that lovely South African accent!

The first meeting we attended was on Thursday night, the day after we arrived. 

As we descended the hill toward the bakery (where the meeting was held), I could hear the robust worship spilling from the windows, and it sounded like home, like the presence of God. Following several powerful worship songs, Brother George Klingensmith (visiting from the Montana community) opened the meeting by sharing about a butterfly he saw in their gardens. That day was incredibly windy (reminiscent of Montana) and the butterfly was flying directly into the wind. Brother George said that the butterfly wasn’t making rapid progress; at times, it even seemed to be stationary against the wind. But little by little, it made its way resolutely across the garden and disappeared into the trees. He compared the purpose of God to that delicate butterfly flying into the face of the wind. 

It was such a powerful image, accurately depicting my feeling of visiting this community. As tiny, delicate and fragile as it appeared, you could nonetheless feel the maturity and indomitable strength of the church triumphant, built by the hand of the Lord. Their devotion and loyalty to the vision and purpose God has given us is truly a powerful force against the winds of this world. 

The whole meeting was incredible—no lulls, just the anointed word of God moving rapidly from member to member, speaking grace into all of our hearts in various forms.

Brother Dan ministered about being “framed by the word of God.” He talked about how when we say that someone has been framed, we are saying they’ve been set up to be entrapped by someone else’s agenda. But if we will come to God and allow Him to frame us, to place us inside His purpose and perspective, it can change everything. When we approach God by framing what He wants to do with our perspectives and agendas, we distort the purpose of God, and nothing fits together. 

Brother Asi shared about Roger Bannister and how he broke the four-minute mile. People had been trying to break that limit for centuries, and no one could do it, but as soon as Bannister broke the record, a new precedent was set.  People started doing it everywhere. He reminded everyone of the story of how Brother Jared’s faith in New Zealand initially sparked Brother Rowan’s faith. Then, the story of Brother Rowan’s faith and obedience inspired the brothers in Israel, creating a chain reaction of faith-filled steps. He shared how the South African community and every community of faith can set new precedents for miraculous moves of God all over the world. New communities can step into the kingdom of God because someone will “break the four-minute mile.” 

Many times during our visit, I thought how much I wished my dad could’ve seen such a vibrant community on the other end of the earth. It would have been a dream come true for him. But I think that, in some way, he does see it. The sense of incredible unity with us and the vision God has given us felt like a link to eternity. I witnessed the unity everywhere—between the members, in the quality and quantity of their crafts, gardening, child training, and worship. Of course, like all of us, they’re on a journey, and there are many steps ahead of them, but they truly have made themselves one with us and the purpose of God. And in that unity is power. 

We had the privilege of meeting many wonderful new members there for the first time. It reminded me of a time years ago when I met a cousin of mine for the first time as an adult. I went to the airport to pick her up, nervous that I would not recognize this woman whom I’d never met in such a crowd of people. However, when she was about 25 yards away, I saw a woman coming toward me, and I recognized myself in her features! Her gait, her smile—even something about her spirit was familiar. We both grinned simultaneously and knew we’d spotted each other—that DNA running through every blood cell recognized family. 

Meeting our South African community for the first time, I immediately felt that same resonance with our shared spiritual DNA. I not only felt as if it connected us across the globe, I felt connected to eternity, to the dreams my dad had for communities everywhere, the dreams of Abraham, the dreams of God. I felt connected to the past and the future. What a dream come true is the community in South Africa!

We left with a sense that this little “city on a hill” is a light destined to become so bright that it shines out to many places across the “dark continent,” bringing faith and hope to many hearts for the glory of God. 

—Sister Amanda Lancaster

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