Microsite Reflections – Opening a door to what God desires
The microsite story will live long in the memory, and this for a number of reasons but mainly because in all these things God has a great desire to be part of our collective and individual freedom journeys. I distinctly remember seeing these images on social media posted by this guy called Phinius on social media. I wasn’t sure what was grabbing me about them…the filters were extremely specific but it had to be more than that. He was documenting a journey of some special people who were living on the mountain in Muizenberg. At first they were centred around the living conditions but things changed and it appeared to me that there was a real desire on the faces of these guys to find a home. They would use placards almost like a toyi toyi, and their message was clear, ‘We are here, and we are looking for home…’
Whilst this was happening a small group of people from CHS were tasked by Brendan to look into the different options that the church could be used for in the COVID response time. Should we be a storage facility? A testing facility? I appreciate I have a home bias, but for me nothing excited me apart from the idea of the church opening its doors to become a shelter for the most vulnerable. Ron and I were encouraged to pursue the options by Brendan. To my shock however I found out that Pastorate quite hesitant and unsure about the idea of opening the church to provide shelter. I was deeply disappointed and I felt like it was a missed opportunity, I was convinced that God wasn’t getting excited about the church being a storage facility!
But these images that I kept seeing continued to poke me – a spiritual discomfort – even in the knowledge of this ‘no’ that we had heard. Who is this Phinius guy anyway? Caroline from The Warehouse already knew him and she encouraged me to make contact. I remember the moment I called Phinius, I was in the garden in my house and for some reason I was extremely nervous. I knew that I had to glean a wider picture of what was going on in Muizenberg, without giving away any idea that the church had something to offer. Phinius came across as someone with clarity and compassion, and immediately approachable. He described the story of the group of people who he and his wife Katlyn had been called to serve, and he continued to describe how a wider community of people had gathered around them…CAN groups, the Uturn NGO, some of his own friends, interactions with local councillors etc. The solitary void in the conversation was glaringly obvious, the only thing missing from this was a building.
Phinius made it very clear that their first priority was to find a home for the ladies in the group, which numbered about 10. When I heard that we might be talking about 10 ladies, and that they would be coming with a ready made social infrastructure around them, I felt like this thing could be possible, EVEN in the face of the ‘no’ we heard previously. I dropped the phone call and immediately called Brendan to put forward a tentative proposal. To my surprise he was receptive, dare I say excited; this door that I had assumed would shut immediately wasn’t shutting. It kept opening. When we fully understood the depth and breadth of the work Phinius and Katlyn had already done to ensure that these beautiful but vulnerable people would be cared for, the fear of what all of this means (or could mean) started to vanish. It all seemed possible.
The doors kept opening. The ‘no’ from pastorate became a ‘yes’. I see this as a miracle, what greater miracle is there than hearts and perspective changes? But then there was the Parish, what would they say? The doors kept opening. At the celebration dinner at the end of the time of the microsite I went up to some of the ladies at the end, and thanked them for being here: ‘We need you as much as you need us…’ Or words to that effect. The least of these (in a worldly sense) had felt welcomed in the church which is not something we can always say. And why do we need them? Because we have been given a mandate by God to open up a table. A feast table, a table whose presence reminds all humans that you are welcome and that you matter and that God has a plan for your life. So I believe there is a direct connection between the concept of the table (that emanated form the facilitation sessions in the church to build the life centre) and these beautiful ladies. Our job is to continue to find each other, and even be led by those we thought we have been called to care for.
I hope this all makes sense. Have a great day.