From February 13-March 7, seven travelers from North Point Church in Poulsbo accompanied Wendell and Kelly to South Africa.  The following was written to the North Point congregation by one of the team, Joel Skellie, North Point’s Director of Music.

Our planet is a paradox.

Earth is both big and small, strange and familiar, funny and tragic. It is simultaneously our home, and for a follower of Jesus, alien in its struggle with love, humility, forgiveness and peace. But God loves it, died to redeem it, and longs for the day it will be reconciled to himself.

Traveling from the Pacific Northwest to South Africa, just about the furtherest a human being can go without starting to head back home, is to experience this paradox firsthand, up close and personal.

Here are five things I will take away from this journey:

1st Takeaway: that I now know only a little bit more about what I don’t know about South Africa. I expect that if I were to go back 10 times, I’d know 10 times more about what I don’t know.

2nd Takeaway: that I don’t have to understand everything to do something about what I do know. If I know anything about God’s love, then I must learn to act with some measure of His passion.

I must offer a cup of water, and bind up a wound or two. I must participate with Him to clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and feed the hungry.

3rd Takeaway: that America has no corner on mountain grandeur, spacious skies and waves of grain. South Africa is blessed with breathtaking beauty, dramatic coastlines, seemingly endless mountain ranges, plains that stretch out beyond the horizon, tropical forests, arid deserts, and a savanna that is almost disorienting in its diversity of flora and fauna. Lions, and cheetahs and rhinos, O my, indeed!

Nor is America the only home of the brave, or land of the free. The people of South Africa paid dearly for their freedom. The brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers of many we met gave their lives to overcome one of the most brutal and cold blooded racial regimes in modern history.

We’ve come to know a people as courageous, dedicated, joyous and sacrificial as any we could ever hope to meet. Children whose eagerness to learn is so intense that their minds seem like virtual vacuum cleaners, sucking up every morsel of knowledge placed on their plates. Men and women who, with no hint of reservation, give their lives toward the betterment of young and old alike, seeking not only their own interests, but the interest of others.

4th Takeaway: that laughing and crying are fraternal twins. That I can snort snot out my nose, lose my breath, feel weak in the knees and pound the table just as easily at a humorous story told to great affect by a friend, as in response to the heart-wrenching experience of watching small children being turned away hungry because there is no more stew in the pot, and no more bread to give, no matter how many times the loaf is divided.

5th Takeaway: that Second Table Ministries and North Point Church are making a profound difference in the lives of pre-school children in South Africa.

We are helping the Hilton Church in Aliwal North, and Maranatha in Sebokeng to increase their redemptive presence in their communities.

We are assisting our Sister Churches to significantly impact the opportunities and positive life choices for a generation of children and young people.

That God takes our drop of love in the bucket of human suffering, and turns it into a river of life for those for whom He gave His life to save.