Today I attended the Jubilee Community Church just outside Cape Town. I was drawn to it because of what I knew of its history and community impact (and Oxford theologian Michael Ramsden was speaking). I really didn’t know what to expect.
What I found this morning was a church that is doing something right.
Jubilee Community Church is a name that speaks of the biblical imagery reflective of God’s favor in setting captives free and preaching good news to the poor. It was launched in 1983, in the middle of a stormy time for Cape Town when apartheid was intensifying. They wanted to be intentional about being part of the solution rather than part of the problem. This was not always an easy road to walk down in a society that was so divided. Then, after the New South Africa was established and the country was affectionately referred to as the Rainbow State, being “open to all races but 95% white” wasn’t good enough. So, they reached out to the community. They started mercy-driven ministries where Christ was exalted- from a pregnancy help center to a women’s prison ministry to a drug rehab center to kids club to job training. Jubilee Community Church is now a church community drawn from such a diverse spectrum of the city’s population – young and old, poor and affluent, of different races, cultures and nationalities. They have planted several churches, sent out leaders, and impacted nations. They do not remain secluded in themselves that exists only for members-while only poring over doctrine and endless theology and have no relevance to the culture in which they live. Rather, they are a testimony of doing it right by reaching out beyond their doors and making Christ relevant to their community in very intentional ways. They live it out.
Today I got a chance to worship with these dear people. And children! I’ve never seen so many children at church! What fun was it to join in their baby dedication today. Cutest kids on the planet.
At the exact time I was walking into the church building this morning a group of about 6 Chinese people walked in at the same time. Where did they come from? We started talking and it turns out that they were from Beijing where they lead a church! What a delight that was! Remembering my episode from the night before (see my previous post), I saw this as a gift from the Father. The only reason they are able to be here is because they were coming from seminary in the States. But, 7 mainland Chinese were able to come after all. Not quite the 250, but there were 7, and I got to sit closely with them. That was a real gift.
After church, I decided to work through my fears and actually ask someone for a ride back. I really just wanted a ride back to the convention center (the church is a good 15 minutes away and in kind of a ghetto area)…but, instead, they invited me to lunch at their house. The group was made up of all young people in their twenties. Turns out they invited other people there as well. We sat around and shared experiences for two hours there in their living room- Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Switzerland, Argentina, Germany, Japan, South Africa, and China were all eating together. Awesome.
I will write about the opening ceremony of Lausanne and the other people I met today in a later post. But, tonight I got a foretaste of what heaven is going to be like as 4200 people representing a huge variety of people groups, all read the Lord’s prayer at the same time together, each in his own language, and then joined voices and sang “Crown Him with Many Crowns.”