You may have noticed that we've been highlighting individuals who have spent time in Africa on the blog recently, like Molly and Amanda. Our newest story is from Tim, who shares a bit of insight with us from his time in South Africa.
Who: Tim Bergsma Where: South Africa When: 2011
What was the biggest thing you learned during your travels? The biggest thing I learned is that no matter what barriers and walls our sin puts up, God can knock them down. This became so apparent to be during one of the days. South Africa has a rough history when it comes to social justice with the apartheid ending during most of our lifetimes. This causes an unbelievable divide between the white South Africans and the black South Africans. Due to the generations of injustice by the political system, a white guy is not easily trusted in most of the townships. This barrier, however, was broken down by a simple soccer ball. God was able to use the game of soccer through my trip – to allow us to quickly earn the trust of the people in these communities, which in turn allowed us to spread Christ in the townships.
A lot of people say they felt their life changed after traveling to Africa, was this true for you? If so, how? I don’t think it is possible to experience another culture so different from your own and not be changed in some way. I constantly am reminded of how lucky I am and also how much stuff I have, especially in comparison. It is easy to get caught up in that, but where the real good comes in is not valuing my possessions, but rather valuing people. In South Africa, we were able to get away from all the ‘stuff’ of our culture and focus on bonding with people and loving and being loved. This is what sticks with me even now. Stuff is so pointless, but people matter so we need to use every opportunity to invest in people and sometimes that means turning off the TV, but other times it may be using the technology and possessions we have been blessed with in order to connect with individuals in ways we otherwise couldn’t.
Was there a specific person/people you met that had an impact on you? There were many. We would run into kids who all taught me unique things, but the person who has had the longest impact in my life was a Afrikaner named Lourens. During my three weeks there, we became so incredibly close. I have never bonded with another individual as quickly as Lourens. He was the type of guy who had experienced it all and was so dialed in and on fire to serve those in his community and those less fortunate than him. He would stay back after meals and compile the scraps that were left behind to take to homeless people on the way home. He was always looking out for other people and always looking to make the most of every situation.
Interested in sharing about your time spent in Africa? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear your story.