My trip to Cape Town was one of clarity and maturity. Historic in so many ways, this trip was the kind of experience that I will write about in a memoir…if ever I find the time later in life to write it. God brought me back to my roots, showed me the Father’s heart, rekindled old dreams, and re-confirmed his promise to give me the best…
It all began in 2011. I went to Cape Town on a whim. God provided the funds. The scenery amazed me, the people changed me, and God overwhelmed me with his love. In the poor township of Masiphumelele, God led me to a depressed teenage gangster outcast who was addicted to drugs. Okuhle gave his life to Jesus. God adopted him for good…and surrounded him with a church family after I left.
Then three years passed. I grew up. I experienced brokenness and triumph, mountain peaks and valley floors, pain and healing.
Okuhle grew up too. God set him free of every addiction, healed all his emotional wounds, and gave him a new future.
Everything began to come full circle when I found out I would be going to South Africa again. Originally, I was going to Cape Town with a team from Antioch Discipleship School, the capstone trip of our nine month school year. But with the timing of a live album recording I was playing electric guitar for, I had to postpone my trip until the discipleship school trip was finished.
Four days after finishing an album that was likely my most important musical project to date (Antioch Live – “It Is Finished”), I jumped on a plane to Cape Town, the city of hope and wonder.
From day one, my experience was nothing like my first trip to South Africa. On my first trip we worked alongside strangers in a ministry called All Nations; on this trip we worked alongside Antioch family and friends in our new church plant. On my first trip we stayed in a small town on a flat plain by the ocean; on this trip I stayed in a suburb in a house with a family on the side of a mountain. On my first trip we spent every day in a township; on this trip we spent every day on campus at “the harvard of Africa”.
It took me a little while to adjust to this new South Africa…but once I accepted the fact that this trip would be completely different than what I remembered from the last time, I began to enjoy this different flavor of Cape Town.
What I Did
At the onset of my trip, I met up with friends in London. Jeff Jones, my college mentor and leader (who was also with me my first time in Cape Town), was the college pastor of Antioch Knoxville, and he was leading a short term trip from their college ministry to Cape Town. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, and I immediately jumped in with their team.
Upon arrival in Cape Town, Mike helped me get all the essential groceries and things I’d need while staying on an air mattress in his room at the Kennedy’s house. The Kennedy’s are incredible hosts, and they did an amazing job of hosting not only every short term trip to their new church plant, but also me.
For the first couple of weeks, I did everything possible with Jeff and the Knoxville team. I was amazed by their unity and maturity, especially considering how young they all were. We spent a few days sharing the gospel with people in a nearby township, and spent most of our time meeting people at the University of Cape Town.
The vision of the Kennedy’s church plant is that college students from UCT (also known as the Harvard of Africa) would encounter Jesus during their college years, and then take what they learned about discipleship and church planting back to their home countries afterward. Considering the fact that UCT enrolls the upcoming leaders of every country in the African continent, this vision isn’t far-fetched.
One fun way we connected to students was by setting up a free coffee stand near bus stops and dorms. In Cape Town, no one gets anything for free- not even tshirts. So free coffee certainly turns heads and provides a perfect setup to meet students and make friends. As the Kennedy’s say, “We believe if Jesus were here on UCT campus, He would want to give you something for free, not take anything from you.” This really is the heart of Antioch Cape Town.
After Jeff and the Knoxville team left, I had to decide how I would spend the last two weeks of my trip. God showed me that the best thing I could do was serve the long-term team, so I decided to spend most of my time with Mike and the Kennedy’s. That meant ministry looked like doing the dishes at home, joining the family for an afternoon at the mall, entertaining their toddlers, or just hanging out with Mike at the mall all day while he worked. It didn’t always feel like I was changing the world, but I knew that I was doing what God had led me to do.
Throughout the last two weeks, I spent a good amount of time with a team from San Diego and a team from Norman. With both groups, I tried to make friends and make people feel at home in Cape Town. Occasionally I would join them for an outreach or lead worship for their team time. And I got to go on both of their sightseeing days. Being a “floater” had its perks!
The last week of the trip, I wondered whether or not I would be able to meet up with Okuhle. He was leading a YWAM mission trip and wouldn’t get back to Cape Town until right before I left. But one of the Antioch long term team members offered to drive me to the city Okuhle’s team would hold their debrief in (a 6hr drive away), so I was able to meet up with them. I wrote an entirely separate post to capture that story. That one day was worth my entire trip!
By the end of the trip, I had shared the gospel with more than 15 people who had never previously heard, prayed for several people and they were physically healed, written several songs, and encouraged lots of people on the short term and long term teams.
Leaving Cape Town, I was more sure than ever that God is for me. It was one of the biggest themes of the trip – God is on my side, not against me. He is a loving and faithful father who wants the best for His children. If we are willing to submit to His plan and let go of control, in time He will always raise us up to a place we never could have dreamed of.