Words on a South African Bus

Today the seniors of Bethel Church (and me by virtue of being the pastor) were treated to a South African luncheon feast, put together by some members who came to Canada from that country. After the meal another of the seniors who just returned from a guided tour of South Africa showed slides of his trip. The food was amazing, and the things we learned about South Africa made me want to go there again.

I’m not sure how many of the seniors noticed the bus that was featured on one of the slides. It was part of the Robben Island tour (Robbens Island was where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for twenty seven years). These words were painted on the side of the bus:


Twenty Seven years! That was a long journey of captivity. But, after his release, Madiba accomplished amazing things for his country, and he showed remarkable grace toward those responsible for his bondage.

The words on the bus have been echoing around inside my head. Sometimes, for us Christians the journey does feel long. We move ahead a couple steps and then slide back a bit. Fulfillment of ministry objectives can take a frustratingly long time. Roadblocks keep getting thrown up in front of us, and detours are required, which make success further away.

Is our journey as long as Nelson Mandela’s? He didn’t give up. Is our journey as difficult as Jesus’ road to the cross, which we have been looking at during this season of lent? He kept his eyes on the goal: accomplishing his Father’s will that all his children should be saved.

It makes me think:

Maybe I need to keep my eyes fixed on the goal, rather than letting them be fixated on the trouble of the day. Like when driving a car, the operator shouldn’t look at the line directly in front of the tires, but at the horizon, the point where the car is headed. Not only is it dangerous to look down rather than ahead, you also miss the great scenery.

Maybe I need to celebrate the forward momentum we enjoy, and leave the worry about minor setbacks to God. After all, it’s his calling on us, it’s his glory we seek, and it’s his Kingdom that’s being built. Freedom – from fear, from loneliness, from guilt – is what awaits. Even now, as we travel along, we can begin to experience it.

Really, I am enjoying the journey. Bethel is a nice church, with a compelling vision, and a godly purpose. I hope you can say the same kinds of things about your journey. The words on the bus are true! Freedom awaits.

Semper Reformanda.