I write this from Pretoria, South Africa. I sit here late at night reflecting on the last few weeks. I’ve been racing around trying to get things done every day I’ve been here. I’ve been with our staff, organizing, buying a truck, sorting out our container, renewing licenses, sorting out banking issues, waiting on work visas, strategically planning and meeting with partner ministries. The usual unseen stuff it takes to make ministry happen!
In between all of this I have had the chance to catch up with some of our old friends in the township and even some of my “kids” I used to youth pastor many years ago. And I have to say, these moments have been some of the highlights of my month here. My wife really values her history with her friends and she’s taught me to do the same. There is something special about catching up with people whom you were once so close to you; who’s phone number you had memorized and who you did anything for because you were doing life together daily. But with 10,000 miles between us over the last 15yrs distance has grown between us and at best we’ve sporadically stayed in touch. But sitting face to face over coffees, in their new homes, enjoying Dim Sum together or meeting their kids has been such a pleasure. Their lives have taken unforeseen twists and turns and their journeys have experienced highs and lows. I’m a little embarrassed as they speak of what they learned from me (shocking stuff) and how that led them down a certain path. They try to remind me of poignant conversations we had or a comment I made that caught their attention. They thank me, encourage me and I’m secretly overjoyed.
It makes me think, how in this day, we should not take our friendships so lightly. We shape each others lives and each other, in ways we cannot imagine. We advise, encourage, give opinions and joke around. And in all this we shape each other. Phone calls, texts, emails, words; they matter. They build up or break down. They create or they destroy. The Bible says, our tongue has the power of life and death. Speak life. For someone like me who says too many words most days and who is a little loose with his tongue (especially in traffic) I am reminded that words matter.