Friday, September 26, 2008

durban report part 5

Five Prayer Walks
5. Central to the coast

We started the final section of the Cross-Durban Prayer Walk at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Berea, the home church of Jean who has many years of experience of prayer walking the city and whom we were standing alongside by being there and walking with her. The service that morning was jam packed so after the worship, communion, a dance piece, a few words from Jean about the walk, a brief hello from Hugo and a short word from Siya, we set off down the road towards the coast.

We were a much bigger group than the previous walks, with people from FGT and from Jean's intercession group (and even a dog!) joining us for the day. The first section of the walk was the same as we had walked 10 days previously, down through the Warwick Junction markets. It was great to walk through again and continue to pray blessings for the traders and families there. The market is hardly ever quiet - a constant vibrancy of life, 7 days a week. The only time I've ever seen it empty was during a transport strike which meant that many of the workers and shoppers were unable to get there.

As we emerged out of the markets, we reached the cathedral just in time to join the last few minutes of their multilingual mass, as scheduled. The cathedral is huge, and was full of people at the third mass of the day, this time held half in Zulu and half in English. As I've already mentioned in an earlier post, the cathedral is one of the host churches for the SITCD teams, involving the delegates in the work that they do in and around Warwick Junction, serving homeless and refugees with showers, food, clothes and education. It's an amazing place where God is very tangibly present and very evidently at work. We were greeted by an usher with the words "Ah yes, we know about you" and led to a chancel at the front.

The cathedral was rammed full of people, mostly black with some white faces. We'd arrived just in time for communion, which we were allowed to take and all tried desperately to look like we knew what we were doing in a situation quite different to what most of us were used to and half explained in Zulu! After a quick lunch in the car park, we went back in for the start of the Zulu mass, slipping out during a song so that we could head for our next destination.

St Paul's is an Anglican church on Pine Street, right in the centre of the city. There's a weekly group who visit refugee and homeless shelters who start there before going out each time. Some of the delegate teams joined this group and we were able to go and pray with them on a couple of occasions too. Our first stop on arrival at St Paul's was with the refugees who were living in the lower hall - originally from the Congo and having been recently 'redisplaced' by the xenophobic attacks. We prayed and worshipped with them before moving up to another hall to pray for the church and its ministries and involvements. The picture here shows the roll of paper which we'd carried along our way, writing down things that God had been saying, pictures, visions, significant verses etc.

Our final church stop for the day was Gate of Life church at the end of Smith Street. In previous years, delegate teams have served at Gate of Life, decorating their creche room and helping out with the creche. The creche is run by the church to serve refugee families in the area by providing free childcare while they look for work, and then affordable childcare once they are employed. The church have recently moved into a new building but we were able to meet at the creche centre to pray for their work there with Pastor Assan and a couple of other congregation members.

We left Gate of Life late in the afternoon and walked to our final destination - the beach. We had chosen to finish at the beach for several reasons. Even in post-apartheid Durban, there are still divides and inequalities between the many different racial groups in the city, mostly the result of long-standing generational lifestyle and attitudes - it's not deliberate, it just takes generations for these things to change. The beach is one of the few places where all people go as equals. It also felt right to finish at the sea; as Jean said "The British came from the sea, they return to the sea". Also, following the shape of the cross, we had walked three sections into the centre and then from the centre to the coast, symbolically bringing the churches together in Durban and then sending them out into Durban and the rest of the world.

As we stood on the beach, there was a sense of relief and finality. It was done. Jean shouted "It is finished" as she wrote it in the sand. Seven times she shouted it and we all responded "Amen, it is finished!"

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