What I’m learning in Cape Town



It started with a 16 hour plane ride from JFK to Johannesburg (Jozi) to Cape Town and a braai (BBQ) with locals here at Common Ground. It ends with a fuller grasp of  love speaking into the racial brokenness & radical poverty both here and at home.

You know that song, “they will know who we are by our love”? The NGO’s here in Cape Town live that out – partnering, collaborating, and sharing to help the 39% living below the poverty line. We’ve been inspired by the lack of one-man shows and ego driven competition between organizations – here we see unity of purpose.

You know what you hear about white sharks in Cape Town? Yeah, there’s a lot of them.  Big ones.  Needless to say surfing got crossed off the list. Fast.

You know Beyonce? During our week long after school club in Khayelitsha (a township) we found her protégé boogying down to the hokey pokey. Mom joined in the fun while she got her Capetown Cool (#CapetownCool) on with those famous Warby Parker blue glasses.


You know Nelson Mandela? He and Desmond Tutu are total rock stars. These two led the charge for peace and reconciliation in a divided South Africa. District 6 (remember District 9?) is where the government’s apartheid policy brought bulldozers and forced evacuations to create a “white area”:


You know what Tim Keller  says about “justice as the index of real faith”? People here live that out. We partnered with organizations like Network that help immigrants learn interviewing skills, Beth Uriel where wayward boys can find a safe place to live, The Ark where children come to a shack for after school programs…all strategic programs aimed at not perpetuating poverty but dealing with its root causes.


You know how Germans say “Ja!” They say that here too. They also play rugby, which is why most of the men look like Vin Diesel. They also have good brownies with white chocolate chunks, which is why I feel a gravitational pull  to Cape Town.


You know the Gini coefficient? South Africa has the highest disparity level between the rich and poor.  20 minutes from Khayelitsha where families live in dumpsters you’ll find a Haagen Dazs.

You know how the official end to apartheid occurred in 1994? Apartheid means the state of being apart, aptly depicting segregation by “blacks” “whites” and “coloreds”.  Racial integration remains a struggle both here and back home, it’s delusional to believe we live in a “post-racial” society.

All in, these days in Cape Town remind us of the words in Isaiah that “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” God sees the poverty, He sees the racial divides, He sees the labors of His children trying to repair what is broken. To bring shalom. To involve ourselves in tikkun olam.

Our arms are too short. His arms are not.

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