I am seeing something amazing happening week end and week out. It blows my mind every time I take time to ponder it. It is the growth in the lives of some few good men that God has let me become friends with here in South Africa.
When I look at the growth I experienced in my Christian life at their age and even the growth that I can remember in the lives of my Christian friends I am blown away by what I see here.
In the midst of a morally bankrupt, poverty stricken, rare to get an opportunity society God has saved, gifted, and is progressively changing (at an amazing pace) some of the best Christians I have ever met. These young men are becoming some of the best preachers and men of God I know.
I can’t give a formula as to why they have grown at such an incredible pace but I do thank God for it. I can’t claim any credit for it. I am dumbfounded by it. I know I preach and teach and feel silly at the end of the day thinking what in the world have I accomplished but all the while God is working on the inside of each and everyone of His Xhosa sons.
From a human perspective though some of the things that strike me as aiding in their growth as compared to my own growth when I first got saved are as follows:
Humility/self-consciousness/willingness – I would have to say in my teens I was extremely self-conscious. I was worried about what people thought, what would they think and how I would look and sound. I was constantly focused on my own reputation. The difference was that my imperfections could be hidden away. I know that these guys are self-conscious but I don’t think it is anywhere near the degree to which an american teenager grows up with.
I think it has to do with their humble upbringings. They grow up in shacks, wearing the same clothes, and eating simple foods. Everybody knows this about you because privacy is hard to come by in the township. Houses are practically right on top of eachother. You life is pretty much an open book to your entire community. You can’t hide your poverty as a Xhosa young man because you live right next door to all your friends and your school is in walking distance. It has a way I think of humbling you.
We (me) were definately not rich growing up compared to other Americans but we were very capable and prideful about keeping our “lack” hidden from those around us. You can imagine a childhood full of this grows into an teenager full of pride.
Availability – Another advantage for these guys is their availability. Whereas in the states everything is fast paced and you’re constantly involved in some extra curricular activity as a teenager/young adult. In South Africa things move slower, money is scarce, and opportunities are far less. Therefore young men that get saved and desire to grow have great availability which gives God a huge opportunity to work in their lives.
Hunger – God has given these young men an incredible hunger to grow in the Lord. They read, study, preach, and meet together at every opportunity. They have a strong appetite for spiritual things. I know in my own life that I had alot of other hungers competing with my hunger for God.
It is convicting to get around Christians that are humble, available, and hungry for God. Don’t get me wrong Xhosa young men are not flocking to God – I am speaking of the few good men that God has privileged me to be around.
I would say first of all we need to be like this and secondly we need to search out and seek to be around others like this.
Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”