Some truths about South Africa


Pastor Todd Hurley takes a selfie with penguins behind him.

I recently traveled to South Africa as part of a seminary sponsored intercultural trip. The experience was exhausting but exhilarating. Amid the bustle of going from place to place, I took time to reflect on a few truths that I would like to share with you.

Rt. 413 is not that bad

How many times have you been on that one way in/one way out road from Crisfield to Rt. 13 and the drive was less than pleasant? Perhaps you got stuck behind someone going 44 miles an hour and you could not pass. Or maybe a vehicle passed you while there was oncoming traffic which made it so that YOU had to pull over on the side to avoid certain mayhem. Or maybe it just seems like it takes FOREVER to travel that road with its never ending fields, trees, and telephone poles.

Let me assure you that Rt. 413 is not that bad.

We traveled from Johannesburg to Kruger National Pak on a two-lane road for 6 hours. People were passing us on little strips of pot-holey asphalt overlooking a 3,000 foot drop off the side of a mountain.

Then, we got stuck behind a construction vehicle to which we couldn’t pass for over one hour. Count your blessings, Somerset Countians, 413 is a breeze.

You’re not as poor as you think you are

You ever look at your checkbook and realize that you’ve got too little money at the end of the month? Or the new gadget that you would love to have is just too pricey for your wallet? Maybe your car doesn’t have that new car smell anymore like the one your neighbor just got but you could never afford the payments for a new ride.

Believe this truth: you are not as poor as you think you are.

Yes, I know that Somerset County is the poorest county in the state. However, we visited Kliptown in Soweto and I have never seen such large scale poverty literally shadowed by, mocked even, by wealth of a four-star hotel. We walked the urine-filled muddy streets of Kliptown and went inside a young man’s home where 12 people sleep and live in a tin hut the size of most of our outdoor sheds.

For these people there is little hope to get out of the cycle that Apartheid stuck them in. With a 72 percent unemployment rate, there is great despair and hopelessness.

You may be in a difficult spot at times. I know that all things are relevant. However, you are far richer than you could ever imagine when you come face to face with real poverty on a scale like that of Kliptown.

Nature is pretty cool

I was fortunate enough to see with my own eyes the Big 5: Cape Buffalo in the dark, an elephant tearing down a tree, rhino grazing in the field, a lion eating a freshly caught wild boar, and a leopard lounging in a tree. I also witnessed a hippo marking his territory by spraying feces with his tail (yuck), penguins on the beach, ostriches on the beach, and baboons on a lighthouse trail. All of those animals were so wonderful to see!

But you know what? They didn’t have Chesapeake Bay blue crabs like we do. Nor did they have muskrats, blue heron, Delmarva Fox Squirrels, or no-see-ums. Okay, I could do without the last one, but the fact is nature is cool. Get outside and enjoy God’s creation. Exactly where you are is as unique as anywhere else in the world. You just got to get out there and enjoy it.

You are needed

The greatest truth that I discovered on my trip is that we are all uniquely gifted to serve the body of Christ which is the church. No one else can do what you can do. In fact, God has given you specific gifts to complete the body so that it may function properly.

Read 1 Corinthians 12

Seriously, do it. Then, get to church. Serve with God’s gifts that he is allowing you to use. If you are not doing so, you are crippling the church. You are that important. The church needs you. God needs you just as much as you need him. Don’t wait. It is urgent. That is the truth.

— Pastor Todd Hurley is pastor of the Asbury and Mariners United Methodist Charge in Crisfield

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