The year 2019 will not go down as one of the most momentous years in the history of the world or even of our own community, but we have seen some dramatic events which have affected us in one way or another. Perhaps a short reflection on some of the salient moments as I remember them will suffice.
Our year really began with our Mountain Call 2 Prayer event which was held in the village hall. We had hoped to have this event in the open but rain drove us indoors. Well over 250 people from all over the mountain came to the event, which, I believe, not only had a powerful impact on the attendees, but was an obedient expression of our faith in God to do something to bring about a change for good in our land. Yes, there are still problems and such events do not instantly mean God is going to bring about a transition to a utopian existence. Notwithstanding we can praise God that this year some very decisive steps have been taken by our government to improve the situation regarding corruption in state-owned enterprises and in government itself. Perhaps we should see the hand of God in that new process for the good.
Sadly we have seen an ongoing and tragic series of accidents on the R71 which transects our mountain community. In April of this year six people lost their lives in one single accident. Many more have died as well during the year and the problem does not appear to get any better. I believe that this is a singular matter for our prayers given the potential tragedies that are still to come.
We have also experienced a couple of serious and ugly incidents of crime in our community during the past year, with little progress having been made in the identification and capture of the perpetrator. One of the results of this was a strong sense of fear and victimisation that was felt by many, especially our single women who live in the village. Again, this is a subject for our ongoing prayer, that God will keep our community safe from such evil attacks.
Dirk ran two Alpha seasons concurrently this year (which was a pretty heavy workload for him), one in the church for young adults and another at Stanford Lake College for the weekly boarders. The results have proved to be very positive with more people coming to a living relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Youth ministry has also grown in the development of relationships and faith of the young people as well.
We also held a mission in September, which was reasonably well attended. Again, we experienced a renewal of faith for several people through the ministry of Rt Rev Philip le Feurve, his wife Charmian and Rev Sue Taylor. However the real results of any mission will only manifest themselves in the future.
A very sad loss for us were the deaths of Margaret Beekman, Joshua White and Ed Hillary. Margaret, in her short time with us, was a testament to loving and positive relationships with other members of the family of St Paul’s. Ed was a pillar not only of this church but also the community at well.
And so, as we look back on the year we see several things. We see faith manifest through prayer, we see spiritual growth, joy and a sense of progress. We also see the sadness of loss of friends and family. We see that evil is active and alive in our community and that tragedy dogs our lives each day. What, then, is different? What defines 2019 and sets it apart? Probably for individuals there will be moments; moments of joy and sadness, but there will be similar times next year and the year after that. Life is a continual mixture of events and emotions that make up our human existence.
What should our response then be? We can bewail the situation and look to a bleak future. We can also look at the past as a lesson learned and take a wholly positive view of the future. We have a choice as to what response we will make to this world around us, this life we live in the short time allotted to us. But perhaps we can focus on the Lord and his purpose for us. We are here for a purpose! Have you discovered your purpose? The Scriptures tell us that we are a holy people; in other words, set apart for the purpose of worshipping him. That is why the church exists. We are God’s instrument of faith, hope and love to a broken world. Perhaps then, we can look to the future with ‘2020’ vision, knowing that our very existence is to praise and worship our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and to bring hope, joy and peace to his creation.