Be Bold, Be Strong for the Lord our God Is With Us

Faith, Youthwork and Family…


January 2012

It’s not what you know, but who you know!

I was going to talk about “Moses”, but just a few hours ago I was told that the daughter and mother-in-law of of one of my family’s close friends died in a car accident a few days ago. Her husband died 2 years ago, they all were like family to me,  So I am going to dedicate my blog to them this week.

The father was a Chief of a village in South Africa, I don’t want to appear that I am name dropping but he had a big impact on the lives of not only the people he oversaw in his village, but also on the government and the direction that the government was taking under Nelson Mandela!  Just google “Chief Ngubo Mgcotelywa” and you will see a few things that he was involved with.

His mum was a great woman too, when I stayed there for a month, I was on my own, no other English person, Nokhaya Gcinusapho Mgcotyelwa (I knew her as Mama Pauline!), looked after me and when the Chief was gaining qualifications in the UK, she stepped into the role of Chief and watched over his people!  She was also the deputy Principal of the local Junior school.

During my month’s stay in his village, I was treated as if I was a member of their family, I lived with them in their home, I played with their children in their yard (their daughter was six when I last remember her, according to the article she was a teenager at the time of her death), the first night after my parents returned to the UK, he took me to collect his wife from somewhere and he introduced me as Andile Mgcotyelwa (For the month I stayed with them that was who I was!)

There were some funny moments, when he suggested I “hustle” the money from the fathers who were too busy drinking their family’s money away in the pool halls, rather than supporting their wives and kids! Or when he asked “do you play soccer?” I said yes and the next thing I know, I have agreed to be a goalie for his local soccer team!

So why have I talked about them, well in my opinion they were people I learnt a lot from and think others could!

  • Their attitude was  inspirational- he refused to be a “Prince John” type Chief, by not constantly asking for “taxes” from the people in his vicinity because he didn’t believe in making them struggle financially! So he was a very respected Chief!
  • Their love was unending, Mama Pauline took children in from families who were struggling and looked after them until they were old enough to “go into the world”, the Chief was constantly helping people, (I cannot count the number of times he picked up people who I thought were “hitch-hikers” that got into the back of the pick-up/bakkie truck where I was sitting and then he dropped them off further down the road!)
  • His confidence to speak to important figures- He firmly expressed his opinion that his village needed a clinic to Nelson Mandela, who at the time was the President of South Africa, mandela came to the funeral service for a large bus accident and Chief Mgcotyelwa said “if we had a clinic we could have saved most of the casualties” (the nearest hospital was an hour or so away!) Because he only asked for a clinic, Mandela said he would ensure a school was built too!

They are an amazing family and I had the unforgettable privilege to know them personally, they will be greatly missed by a lot of people!  The story of the crash is here


Middle-child Syndrome, jealousy or pie-in-the-sky aspiration?

On Monday, I was reading about Joseph, the bible figure  who inspired the musical with his multi-coloured coat!   He was loved the most out of his brothers, any parent knows that you shouldn’t have favourites, and even if you do, you certainly shouldn’t make it obvious!  But, if you read the whole story you will realise that he was a middle-child.

I am also a middle child, I have 2 older siblings and 1 younger.  Whenever I am in a discussion about families etc. I usually joke about having middle-child syndrome.  I know that I have had a better childhood than others, there are people that I know who have had a “worse deal” than me when it comes to childhood, so I am not expecting the “tiny violins of sympathy” but it is interesting that most middle children have the same attributes, they are generally:-

  • Dreamers
  • Deep thinkers
  • More aware of others feelings
  • of low self-esteem

Case in point, look out the characters of Malcolm in the middle!, lisa simpson and Jan Brady

For me, the fact that the family dinner table was generally a noisy affair with us all trying to be heard and someone generally would be unsuccessful, normally me, meant that to a point, I retreated to my own thoughts and in actual fact has been quite useful as it has trained me to be able to write/think about talks/blogs in my head during my day. Although others may call this day-dreaming!

All Joseph‘s brothers were jealous of their father’s love towards Joseph, and of the fact that God was giving him dreams that he would rule over them!  Even Jacob was indignant at the idea of bowing before Joseph.  The funny thing about siblings is that you are envious of each other even if you are not fully aware of it!  I used to look at the wall with the certificates of degrees/diplomas that every other member of my family had got and wish I had one, I used to look at my brother and wish I was able to get a girlfriend as easily as he could.  I know envy is not an attribute that is positive but can it drive your ambitions in a positive manner?  Can it become aspiration, even if its “pie in the sky“?

Well for me… NO, for some reason it does my head in instead, my head whirled with ideas about “what can I do to change myself so that someone would like me enough to want to go out with me?” one piece of advice was “shave your eyebrows, me and my brother did it within days we each had a girlfriend!” (it was from a 10 year old!)  As for educational or employment prospects, I kept thinking of WIBNI’s (wouldn’t it be nice if…). but if I do not feel 100% committed to the idea then I don’t put my “heart and soul” into it, I wish I knew that earlier I tell you!

Having been a christian for at least 15 years, I unfortunately have been affected by the common feeling of being jaded by life, I have had plans of what I want to do or what I felt God wanted me to do and when it hasn’t occurred in the time period that I was thinking of (i.e. pretty quickly)  I find myself confused and once again thinking what am I doing with my life!  Joseph had a similar experience, he imagined that at some point that he would be ruling over his family, then he gets sold as a slave and made to serve, this must have taught him humility.  But then someone tells a lie about him and he is imprisoned, he must have wondered “what on earth is God doing with me?”!

After Joseph’s perfect explanation of the Pharaoh’s dreams, he ends up being given a massive responsibility, he becomes 2nd in command! His brothers come to him and bow down (not realising it is Joseph).  So what does this teach us/me?

  • God’s timing  is perfect-  just because what you thought was going to happen/had prophesied over you isn’t happening now, it doesn’t mean it won’t!  If you stop struggling and “cast your burdens onto Jesus”, at the right time, the right thing will happen!
  • God’s wisdom is perfect- He knows what you need, that relationship/job/course may seem perfect/desirable but if it will not help you in the long run, then it won’t happen!
  • God wants the best for you-He doesn’t want you to have the mediocre!  When I took my AS levels my results were shocking!  This was partly my fault, but when I retook them I aced a test!
  • Although you may look at your friend/brother/sister/colleague and think “their life is great I wish I had…”, more than likely they are thinking something similar about you!

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