MENS CAMP:The Welcoming (First night of camp)

June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

We arrived at camp-site about 5pm the Friday evening. It was a beautiful setting and you could just feel the calmness in the atmosphere as we pulled into the driveway and entrance to the camp-site. Camp-site was literally a few minutes walk from the beach. You could smell the sea water and and the fresh sea air. It was cold though considering that it was the heart of winter in Cape Town ,South Africa.

There was however no time to go out to the ocean at that stage as there was lots to be done. We had to immediately set up as the participants of this camp was soon to arrive. We had to pack the hall,check if the rooms were clean and take care of all the necessary logistics before the MEN arrived. After everything was checked , we were ready for the arrival of the men.

We had an agreement at prior meeting that there will be no cellphones or electronic devices allowed on this camp as we did not want them seeing how late or early it was and also so that they would not be distracted by phone-calls or anything else from the outside world. We needed their full , undivided attention throughout this weekend. One of my duties to the start off this camp was to do the registration and to collect and “confiscate” (put in safe keeping) any electronic devices that they had on and with them. I also had to “confiscate” all there luxuries that they had with them. The reason for taking all the luxuries from them is that there were some men that were not fortunate enough to bring along luxuries and we were going to share the loot with the everyone at some stage of the camp. Some of the guys were not to happy but that was the rules and they had to stick to it.

After registration it was time to show the men to there rooms and there were M.O.S (Men Of Service) allocated to each group of men. The MOS carried each one of the mens luggage to their rooms for them

and basically saw to their every need. The men returned to the main hall for coffee and biscuits and bit of fellowship and then it was time to move into the the allocated space where all the processes were to take place. In this space nobody was to have their shoes on and that was just a symbol to show that this was a place of respect and that all were to respect each other while the process continued. There was also a bowl to wash your hands as you entered this allocated space. As we moved to this particular area in the building the process began….

In my next blog post I will share with you the powerful processes that took place during the camp.

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MY THOUGHTS AND EXPECTATIONS ABOUT THE MEN’S CAMP

June 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

As I sit down to write this I am anticipating the upcoming men’s camp for Bezaleel Church. The purpose of this camp is to encourage and inspire the male members to take their responsibility as men and fathers seriously as their role in the Kingdom of God. My role at this camp will be different from usual roles at the other camps in which I’ve participated. At other camps my role has been that of a facilitator. At this one, however, my role has been designated as a Man of Service (MOS). This means that my presence there will be purely to serve the pastors, leaders and other men facilitating the Bezaleel Church Camp. I, along with other Men of Service will be there to make the job of the facilitators as easy as possible and to make it pleasant and comfortable for them so they can focus solely on the processes that will take place there.

My expectations for this camp are basic….I want to serve and honor these church leaders  as they take time out, away from their families, to come and learn more about the real meaning and responsibilities of manhood. It does my heart good to visualize how these men will begin implementing what they learn, not only in their own homes but throughout their communities and beyond.

My goal in serving these men to the best of my ability is to have my service make a difference well beyond the event. Whether it be to carry there luggage, make their beds etc. I will consider it an honor to do so. Jesus said, ‘I came to serve and not be served.”

My life goal is to become more like Christ and this is one of the ways I will draw closer to my God and my goal. Serving my fellow brothers in Christ will strengthen my walk with God.

This camp will be blessed well beyond the actual event as the participants, myself included, take what we learn out into the world. What I will bring home is the heart of a servant of God and the ability to continue to serve wherever I go.

In Loving Memory of Ivan Ross

June 15, 2009 § 2 Comments

On Monday evening as I was finishing my final meeting of the day, I received a really distressing call from Craig, my brother in Christ. Craig’s father had just passed away. This was shocking for all of us as his dad had not been sick. His passing came suddenly and without warning.

Craig’s father, Ivan Ross, Uncle Ivan to me, was a loving father, hard worker and a good husband to his wife. I cannot recall ever hearing Uncle Ivan raise his voice. He had a soft and gentle spirit, a good sense of humor and showed compassion to others.

I left the Center immediately to go to Craig’s house to support him. On my way there I stopped by my moms place to tell her what had just happened. When I got there I saw that one of her friends was visiting and as we talked, our conversation began to center on the thought that life is so short and we have to be prepared to meet our Lord when our time on Earth is over. I used the opportunity to make a point of the fact that Jesus is the only way into Heaven (John 14:6) and that she needed Him in her life. She has since committed her life to Christ. I believe she realized that she could no longer risk not having Jesus Christ in her life. We all need to be prepared for when Jesus comes to take us home.

The realization came to me clearly that I need to spend more time with my loved ones while I have them still here with me. This has been an eye opener for me and I’m sure, for all of us.

Ivan Ross, will be greatly missed by all of us. Our prayers and love go out to the entire Ross family. We pray that God saw this good family man coming with his hand reaching to take God’s hand and that in that moment God reached out His hand of mercy to welcome Ivan home. We continue to pray for blessings on the Ross family and ask God to give them the strength that they require to get through this difficult time.

To all the saints out there, let us keep the Ross family in prayers.

God bless you,

Brent

Note: Craig is @CraigRoss316 on Twitter if you care to send him a message. Otherwise, please remember him and his family in your prayers.

WORKING WITH OUR AT-RISK YOUTH

June 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

Yesterday morning was filled with excitement as we were scheduled to minister to a group of young people that are faced with many of the same issues all of today’s youth are faced with. In addition to the pressures of just living in today’s world, drugs are being shoved at this young people as a solution to all their problems. Drugs, as they soon find out, are not a solution to anything but are instead a greater problem with which to deal.

As I was preparing myself to work with these young people I was feeling so blessed and privileged that the team and I had been given the opportunity to speak to and steer yet another group of youngsters to the right path.

Bradley, Clinton and Dylan (the guys I work with) and I were the team selected to take on this particular task. Our plan was to run a program consisting of a number of activities designed to both serve as ice breakers and to demonstrate the importance of teamwork. We would then base or talks around these particular activities. This is what the program looked like:

Introduction – Bradley Naidoo

Talk on Honoring – Brent Williams

Talk on Mentors – Dylan Liversage

Talk on Obedience – Clinton Liederman

Talk on Choices – Bradley Naidoo

Everything went well during the open gathering and we got a good response from the crowd. We then decided to break up into smaller groups according to age and hear from the youth regarding what they are facing on a daily basis.

One young boy in my group shared that he is offered drugs on a daily basis at school. Rather than go for the hard drugs he opted to smoke “soft drugs” like dagga (weed) so that he wouldn’t feel left out of what others were doing.

On the subject of relationships one of the guys said that his girlfriend gives him a lot of stress. He shared that it hard to handle and shared with us that he goes often to drink beer after a stressful encounter with her. He told us it relieves his stress.

One of the guys said he was once forced to smoke methamphetamine (speed) with the older guys he was hanging out with. They locked the door and threatened him and his friend with harm if they didn’t smoke the speed.

I could see clearly that these young people need to learn coping skills and that when faced with these life stresses they need to be encouraged to go to one of their teachers to get help in dealing with it and talk it through. We, here at the Center can be helpful to them if they are willing to come to us and accept our help.

These are but a few cases and a few examples of what our young people face out there today. It’s tough for young people today and we need to be there for them with love, not judgment. The idea is to give them the tools to keep them from messing up, but if they do mess up we must be there to offer a helping hand. The young people of today are the future of this world so we need to protect and teach them the proper way. I love working with youth and I thank God that He has placed me within an organization that does this type of work.

Sending a big thank you to the Impact Team and especially our group leader, Bradley Naidoo…you guys are an inspiration to me

WE NEED TO LOVE PEOPLE WHEN THEY LEAST DESERVE IT

June 1, 2009 § 2 Comments

As part of my job as a Drug Counselor I did an assessment this past Wednesday. There is nothing unusual about that…it’s what I do. What makes one particular assessment on this particular Wednesday is the young man I was counseling. The appointment seemed to go as most do. As we ended, I gave him another appointment and he left…or so I thought.

About two hours later one of my colleagues came to me and asked if I was aware that the young man I had seen two hours earlier was in my room. I thought that surely there was some mistake. I had sent him home hours earlier. I went to my room just to verify that my colleague was mistaken. When I opened the door, however, there sat this guy on my bed. I asked him what he was doing in the room and he told me that he was talking to one of the guys who shares the room with me. In checking with my roommate I was assured while he had been talking to this guy, the conversation took place outside the building much earlier. I spoke once again to the “intruder” and asked how and why he was in my room. He gave me all sorts of excuses. At that stage I knew that he was telling lies and suspected he was out to steal something, which is a common problem with drug addicts and I, of course, know this first hand.

I had told the young man as part of the assessment that other parts of the Centre were off limits to him and that he was NOT to go into the rooms. It made me angry with him that he had deliberately defied me but I refrained from putting my hands on him and recalled the days not so long ago that I could have been the guy in that room looking to steal something I could sell to get my next stash of drugs.

The reason I was perhaps more upset than I would have liked to have been is that that was not the first time that sort of thing had happened, not with this guy but with other addicts that came to the Center for help. Not too long ago my mobile was also stolen along with some of my cash. And it was people coming to the Center ostensibly for help who stole those things and several others.

While speaking loudly to this guy I managed to maintain control of my emotions. Having my things stolen, particularly by someone I’m giving my time to help was a bit hard to handle. I guess it was particularly difficult because I don’t get paid to counsel these guys but receive only a place to live and a small amount of money for necessities. It takes me a long time to save to buy a mobile and without it communication is at best difficult.

Setting aside the pain of my losses I had to wonder, what if I was in his shoes in this moment? What if someone hadn’t been understanding and reached out a hand of friendship when I was on drugs? My heart goes out to all drug addicts and sometimes I have to place myself in there shoes because, as you know if you’ve been following the journal of my journey, I once stood were they now stand. Instead of getting rough with him or calling the cops, I apologized to him for raising my voice and asked for his forgiveness. I told him that we want to help him get his life back on track and that it was possible for him to kick his habit. Instead calling the cops, I gave him hope and let him know that I am here for him and will help him.

We need to love people when they least deserve it and are least lovable. I also had to ask God to forgive me for letting my flesh take over and feel anger like that. This young addict will be in my prayers and I trust that God will deliver him from his horrible drug addiction just as He did for me.

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