A Postcard, a Cheesy Moon, and a Mission Man

Why am I in Cape Town?

A simple question. And perhaps one that I could have answered rather easily at the beginning of this journey, but it’s becoming much more complex as I realize that I’m not here just to do service. I’m not here just to learn. I’m not here just to experience a new culture. That much is clear. There’s a bigger plan – a plan that was set in motion before the beginning of time, a plan that I am now being swept into by the Lord’s glorious grace!

Sometimes it’s easy to doubt whether there is a greater purpose to this thing we call life. There have been days when I look around and ask myself, “Is this really it? Is this all there is to life?” But, we can rest assured. There is a bigger picture. And though we can’t see it right now, it exists. It’s a beautiful masterpiece that is slowly being unveiled. However, we often want to see it all at once. And when we don’t, we frantically try to slop on the paint. Then there comes the time when we step back and realize that what we’ve created is anything but a masterpiece.

For years, I’ve been trying to create a masterpiece. And have failed miserably. I’d like to say that I trust the true artist and believe that “God has a plan for my life,” but doubt and uncertainty have always lingered in the back of my mind. It’s especially difficult when people ask me the dreaded question, “What are you majoring in?” I reply, “Sociology and religion.” And the inevitable question ensues, “What are you going to do with that?” To which I half-heartedly reply, “I’ll let God figure that out…” But, now, I can say with ecstatic confidence that God truly does have a plan, no matter how obscure it first appeared! His guiding presence is undeniable. It began with a handmade postcard that one of my dear friends sent me.

Handmade postcard from a dear friend

On the top were the words, “You said, ‘Your glory will fill the earth, like water in the sea.’ You said, ‘Lift up your eyes, the harvest is here, your kingdom is near.” At the time, the words seemed really powerful and beautiful…and strangely familiar, but I didn’t think they had any significant meaning. Also on the front was a picture of a rocky ocean shore with mountains in the distance.

The following day I arrived at Rocklands Christian Retreat Center in Simons Town for a weekend long retreat with the “Student Y,” the Christian organization on campus. The theme of the weekend was “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” We went through the book of Philippians together throughout the weekend – Bible studies, messages, and worship focused on becoming radical disciples! After settling in and sharing in a wonderful time of food and fellowship, I wandered outside and was immediately mesmerized by the greatness and brilliance of the orange moon that shone in the night sky…I thought to myself, “Huh, looks like a harvest moon” (or as a friend of mine Wade likes to call it – a “cheesy moon”).

And I remembered the postcard. “Lift up your eyes, the harvest is here. The kingdom is near”!! As my eyes were lifted up to the sky, gazing at the harvest moon, I reflected upon the meaning of the correlating verse in Scripture: “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest?’ Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” (John 4:35) I realized that the Lord was reassuring me that He has prepared the way and set forth a harvest to be reaped for His Kingdom here in Cape Town!

View of the ocean from Rocklands (similar to postcard!)The following morning as I looked out upon the ocean, I realized that the picture that my friend had put on the front of the postcard was the same image that I was beholding before me!! And as I reflected upon the second line: “You said, ‘Your glory will fill the earth, like water in the sea,’” it was as if the Lord was saying that the mighty ocean in all its dazzling vastness reveals the glorious extent of the awe-some magnificence that is to come – one day every nation, tribe, and tongue will praise Him! His glory will be made known to all, and as I live this life, I am to partner with God in this very purpose!

On Sunday, I met a man named David Bliss, or “Papa Dave.” Though he is probably in his seventies, there is an unmistakable light in his eyes that screams of a compelling eternal hope. When I sat down with him, I was immediately captivated by his passion for the Lord and compassion for people. Though he’s originally from the United States, he has spent the past twenty-five years in South Africa working in prison ministry and missions. While speaking with him, particularly about mission work, I felt a burning in my heart. Although it’s always been in the back of my mind, I am realizing that perhaps the Lord is calling me to the mission field! (Your prayers for guidance in this area are greatly appreciated.)

As we spoke about South Africa, I learned that it was once the primary hub of global missions. Throughout the process of colonialism, however, missionary efforts were extremely destructive and culturally invasive. Despite its negative impact, the faith was widely embraced and over three-quarters of the South African population now identify themselves as Christians. At the end of our conversation, Papa Dave invited us to Wellington to show us the mission training school and the ministry he’s involved with at Pollsmoor Prison! (So we’ve made plans and are leaving later today!!)

One week later as I sat in worship at Jubilee, they began to play a song that brought me to my knees. The song is called, “You Said.” At that moment I realized that the words on the postcard that had seemed strangely familiar were from this song! (I had sung it a few times at the Bible camp I worked at last summer). But here’s the part that caught me off-guard! The verse directly following the two on the postcard is as follows: “You said, ‘Ask and I’ll give the nations to you, Oh Lord, that’s the cry of my heart. Distant shores and the islands will see your light as it rises on us.’”

If that doesn’t scream missions, I don’t know what does! I believe that this is the direction that the Lord may be calling me. But I feel so unequipped! How can I be included in this great vision when I have such limited understanding of the gospel myself? Luckily, the Lord doesn’t always choose the most equipped or skilled people to be His servants. His power is made perfect in weakness!

(Just to make sure I heard Him clearly about this whole mission thing, He also led me to the Jubilee bookstore after the service and I picked up John Piper’s “Let the Nations Be Glad,” a book about missions. When I looked through the first few pages, my eyes fell upon a list of what seemed to be random Bible verses. Among them was Habakkuk 2:14: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”) Enough said.

So…why am I in Cape Town?

Man, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to answer that question in its entirety, but I’m getting glimpses everyday. The Lord is beginning to reveal His purposes. However, I’ve become quite content in realizing that the slow unveiling of the masterpiece is an oh-so-sweet, ravishing process that I’m not meant to behold all at once. There is something about the uncertainty and mystery of it. Something that fuels the burning soul. Something that makes the heart flutter in the wake of unreserved grace. Something that propels me into a consuming love for Him as I recognize His consuming love for me.

Simons Town beach (Saturday afternoon swim!)

Sunrise at Rocklands

The "Dream Team" enjoying worship and a sunrise!

Sunday night worship at the ESC camp

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dad
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 11:55:45

    Hi Hon,

    Loved reading your post. It is amazing how the beauty of God’s creation gets so easily washed out in our minds and so easily taken for granted. We will continue to pray that God will reveal to you what He wants you to do. Thanks for reminding us that it often takes a while for God to reveal His plan for our life. We know that He has a great plan for each and everyone of His followers. Thanks also for reminding us to have patience and faith in waiting for the answer. Love Dad

    Reply

  2. Janet Mielke
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 20:01:09

    Hey Alyssa,

    It was great to read your blog again! Praise God for his perfect plan and His work in South Africa – He can’t be praised enough! I can’t wait to hear what else He has in store for you 🙂

    Reply

  3. Larissa
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 16:38:20

    Hey Alyssa – I absolutely loved this post! The song, “You Said” is one of my all-time favorite songs that Discovery plays at CoG! I’m sure you’ve heard us play it as well. That song has got such a strong meaning and I’ve never really been able to wrap my mind around it, but in reading this post, you’ve helped me do that! There is so much said in this song and it’s overwhelming, but when you break it down into the individual sentences it’s much easier to comprehend. I am so happy for you in that you’re beginning to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. You have such a huge, passionate heart for Christ and I can’t wait to see where He leads you! Our prayers are with you!! Larissa & Rob

    Reply

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