Microsite Reflections – A Godly Journey

Microsite Reflections

The following was a 2020 reflection (approx. 3rd quarter), in the midst of COVID lockdown and Gods work.

I have been trying over the weekend to articulate what God has done in the last 4 months when we were at CHS and it’s hard. You see, when we started working with these precious women on the street of Muizenberg, we were told that we’re ”wasting our time”, ”they will never change”, ”they’re gangsters, “they’re dangerous, be careful”, ”just ignore them”, ”don’t tell them where you live or give them your number” ”don’t feed them.” ”You’re too young, you don’t know what you’re doing”. We were told a lot of hurtful things (especially about coloured people) and lost ’friends’ and ’mentors’ for obeying God. We faced a lot of persecution and rejection. It was hard and lonely. We had to choose between being the Priest and the Levite who ignored a man who was beat up on the side of the road or be the good samaritan and love our ’homeless’ neighbour; our brothers and sisters as God commanded (not suggested). Like Peter we started to doubt because of listening to the wrong voices, but God was faithful when we were not and He brought strangers (good Samaritans) on our path who believed in us and poured into us. He turned what was meant for evil into good and made what looked impossible, possible. He taught us that His love is greater than fear and His grace is greater than disappointments. He loved us to love others.
We’re so proud of these women. It wasn’t easy but when they got the revelation of whose they are, they took their power and dignity back from the hands of the enemy. All we did was put the mirror (the Word) of God in front of them every day and remind them of who they are and God did the rest. We believe God can change anyone. There is no one He created that is too messed or broken for Him to fix. You see, homelessness can be ended, not just by housing but by a caring community. By genuine relationships. By treating people like human beings, not projects. By listening to those we serve and doing what is best for them, not a program. By providing a HOME, not just temporary shelters that only meet people’s physical needs and neglects their emotional and spiritual needs. By serving, loving and living with the people as equals, not as superiors. By sharing resources and working together as a community. By inviting God in the issue because this is more than a house (physical) issue, it’s an identity (spiritual) issue. The truth is, we can’t change people, that’s God’s job but we can love them. People heal and grow where they feel loved, not judged. We have seen God turn these beautiful ladies who thought they were caterpillars into butterflies. They’re not the same women we met a few months ago. All they wanted was love; love that doesn’t give up on them when they mess up. A place to belong and call HOME – something they tried to find on the street, but all they got was pain. We’re so grateful that we have a Father in heaven who doesn’t waste pain and hears the cries of the marginalised in society.
Someone once told me, ”If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, take some people with you.” You see, this is bigger than us. We couldn’t do this without God, friends and strangers who we now call family. 3 months ago we had nothing, just a seed (vision) in the womb looking for a place to be planted and grow. We are so thankful to CHS, for praying and championing us to fulfil what God has called us to do. These wouldn’t be possible without your YES. Thank you for believing in us and our friends on the street. Where I come from we say, ”It takes a village to raise a child” and I can certainly say, it takes a caring community to end homelessness.
So what’s next? Well, some of the ladies are home with their families. We managed to reconcile them with their families and put them in a rehab program that finishes in January. 5 of the ladies are working with EPWP and earning some money to look after themselves. 2 of the ladies are in the process of getting their ID documents so that they can start working. In the meantime, they’re volunteering and working in different organizations to empower themselves and we will check on them weekly to make sure they reach their goal. We’re super excited for the next season for them. We know it’s not going to be easy for them but we are glad that they have a Father and a family to run to when they’re struggling. PRAY FOR THEM. Pray for them to remember like the prodigal son of how much they’re loved by the Father when they’re in the wilderness.
We believe God has started something amazing @ CHS and we want to normalise it. This is not the end, it’s only the beginning. We want to help more women on the street, but we need a building; a house of restoration for homeless women. That’s our next mission. If the church can partner with us on this mission, let us know. We are busy looking at a 5 bedroom house in Lakeside that will cost R10 000 per month to rent and if we want to buy it, it will be R3.5 million. So please pray with us.
One powerful thing I have learned in this time is the power of COMM-UNITY. Courage is birthed and sustained in community, not in isolation. Nothing is impossible when we put our agendas and differences aside and work together towards a common goal as people.
Again, thank you CHS for believing in us. We appreciate everything you have done for us.

Keep on praying for us.          

God bless you       

Phinius Sebatsane           

Here I Am.Send Me                  



Worship, Friendship & Learning Together

Worship, Friendship & Learning Together

Following on from Charlie Alexander’s report on the Parish Worship nights at the end of last year, Gil Marsden gives her perspective.

I got involved in the parish monthly worship sessions last year, when the group started meeting to record IRL. For those who aren’t with the lingo, that means In Real Life. It was such a blessed relief to worship together, playing actual instruments, with actual humans, after weeks of pre-recorded worship in our separate homes for our separate church online services during lockdown. I have to admit to being a bit nervous when I arrived at the first rehearsal, as I barely knew a soul on the joint parish team. But they welcomed me with open arms (metaphorically speaking and under strict Covid protocols, of course) and only teased me a little bit.

As it happens, over the past year I’ve been on a very slow and belated journey exploring racism, my own privilege and bias as a white person and the chasm that often seems to exist between Biblical justice and the historical evangelical primary emphasis on salvation. As a 4th generation descendant of Irish missionaries to Central Africa, and having grown up and studied in Zambia, Zimbabwe and the UK, before finally settling in Cape Town as a married adult in 1999, it’s not surprising that I find my heritage and identity confusing and sometimes shameful.

So where does parish worship come into it? Well, firstly, it’s been a joy and a challenge to learn a whole new worship repertoire in different languages and styles. We’ve been fortunate, at CHS, to have written and sung many homegrown worship songs as part of our DNA from the early days of our church plant. However, it’s all too easy to default to the well-known and easy formulas of some of the overseas mega-churches’ worship songs. No offence to them, many anointed songs have come out of them. But the focus of the parish worship sessions has been to use songs written on our continent, in our country, in South African languages and by some of the parish team themselves – and that’s been powerful.

The challenge aspect has been that due to time constraints we often don’t have a lot of preparation or rehearsal time and it has pushed me out of my comfort zone to be playing and singing songs that I don’t feel adequately prepared for, especially in a language I don’t speak. “Welcome to our world!” say all the people for whom English is a second, third or fourth language and who have to tackle the majority of hymns and worship songs in English most of the time. So that’s a worthwhile learning curve for me!

Secondly, apart from broadening my song repertoire, the monthly gathering has allowed me to begin to make friends with people from (I’m not gonna lie) a different generation to me but also with a different skin colour and cultural heritage to me.  When we’re practicing and recording, it’s hard to actually get to know one another – especially behind a mask or a microphone. But in the breaks or when sharing a meal together, we’re beginning to share stories and life circumstances and always, the banter!

So it’s a slow process, but this is the work to be done of examining one’s long-held beliefs, biases and blind spots and allowing friends of colour, in Christ, to call me out, challenge me, contradict me and correct me where necessary – and for it to be happening in the context of joint worship across our parish churches, is definitely a God thing. I am grateful to God and to all the people in the parish worship team for being part of this journey with me.

 Written by Gil Marsden
Member of CHS Worship Team