Wednesday, April 2, 2008


This girl Sam took me to a friend’s house. Sam recently became a Christian and was searching for a church. Along the way, she stopped at one of the two churches I attend (not the one I’m serving in). It was a friend from this church (Church-on-Main) that we went to see. Sam took me there on the way home (she was giving me a lift fro and to the conference each day).

Well, I WISH I had been part of this project, but her friend Dinay is part of a group of 8 people doing something called “intentional community.” They bought a house in which no one has a single room. Everyone shares a room with another roommate, so there are 4 bedrooms. It’s three floors with three living spaces and a kitchen on the first floor. It’s in a Muslim area of Cape Town called Bo Kaap (on the bottom slopes of Signal Hill). They agree to move in together, live in an undesirable neighborhood, live together, share everything, and change their community for the better.

I was actually was part of a community just like this though they might not claim me. I had jazz band rehearsals on Mondays when we had dinners. And then my church band had rehearsal on the same every-other-Thursday that we had our community meetings. We were going to move into a place all together in say 3rd ward or 5th ward or something like that. And we were going to do communal gardening. There was some allowance for people who had different preferences like newlyweds who were not yet ready to live with other people. So we allowed for people to live next door just as long as we were close and could come together for meals. And we would love—love everyone, love the kids in the neighborhood, love each other, love in sharing, love in relating, love in communicating, just love. And we would change our neighborhoods.

This was all inspired by wanting to study how the 1st century church in Acts (Antioch) lived and acted. They shared everything they had and there was no one needy among them. It was great. And the book that most of us read was called Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. If you can read this book, I recommend it. I actually gifted it to a friend (the beautiful Audrey McKim) and you can ask her how it is.

The funny thing is that Shane would be SOO surprised that it is having an impact in South Africa. He knows it’s marketed here, but who knew it was taking root. Actually two people in the house are married. I know the guy better than the woman. His name is Morgan and he works for Ambassadors in Sports. They send Christian Sports guys all around the world to do sports work. But he’s part of the actual guys who specifically play on teams around the world. So he was sent down to South Africa and he arrived 1 year before me. It took him 5 months, but he got onto a South Africa soccer team. And now he’s doing great work with them while playing. It was Morgan who was reading the book. And at the time a guy from church needed a place to stay. Morgan told the guy that the guy could stay with Morgan and his wife (they had extra room). And he let the guy read his (Morgan’s) book by Shane. And they both started talking. They talked to a few more people at church and oila! They moved into this place 3 weeks ago. It’s really amazing that they just did it. It’s great. They all have different reasons. Some want to be a positive force in the community. Some just want to leave and retreat from the materialistic society (they car pool and share food and resources) we live (white South Africans speak of their society as Western—Western society, the Western church, Western governments). So it’s really a great experience, and an honest struggle for Dinay who is not used to all this sharing. So funny compared to my current place which is kind of communal. We all live together and have veggies and spices growing in the back with three chickens. But we don’t share food (my section of the fridge was the largest but the delimiters were moved so that they are all even now and people often put things in my section of the fridge). We don’t even just split the phone bill; we must go through it line-by-line which is crazy, of course, because no one knows who made that random call 3 and a half weeks ago. So it’s funny. I am often invited to events. On Easter we had a braii with Bianca and her sister Lamise and a friend (they all three have cerebral palsy). It was the first time that I experienced Bianca understanding what I was saying. I’ve always heard that she can understand all you say but I’ve never seen it. But it’s true, she just can’t speak many words herself. So we have a sense of community here; we rarely eat together though. This is because I’ve been instructed by authorities not to be a vegetarian because I wasn’t getting enough protein but Anna is a vegetarian.

The funnier thing about Shane’s thoughts and the book is that if you told any African/South American/Asian/Eastern European his intentional community thoughts, they would tell you “big deal!” This is done all around the world on a daily basis and has been done for thousands of years. It’s only new or radical in the “Western” world. But we’ve been doing it for years. And I agree it’s the best way to live. Very cool to meet this wonderful, warm, and caring/sharing group of people who opened their home to me for an evening. One is an editor who may help me with a project. And she’s actually perfectly suited to help.

No comments: