Just before Christmas, during a Warehouse prayer time, we were asked to share any fears we had for the season around the work we were doing. I shared my concerns for one of the girls I work with and how I’d watched her deteriorate over the last couple of months and was worried that the Christmas break might send her over the edge, quite literally. She is a young woman Fusion have been interacting with for almost three years and I had spent a large portion of my year meeting with her – I care deeply for this beautiful friend.
During the prayer time, someone shared how they saw her in a cocoon, transforming from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Immediately this triggered a memory of another picture that someone had had for her during a prayer time a month previous, of this same girl hanging upside down from a tree branch. In that picture, she was scared of getting down but all she had to do was put her feet down and she would be fine. To me, the connection was obvious and God was gently reminding me that He was holding her and that she wasn’t “deteriorating” so much as being prepared for something new.
For the month after Christmas, I watched as nothing changed. God was not doing what He promised (as far as I could see), and there was no breakthrough or butterflies emerging. I asked God again, where is the butterfly? He showed me a pink butterfly half way out of the cocoon and beside the cocoon was a bush with the same pink flowers on it – the picture meant (I think) that when the butterfly finally emerged, it would know where to go because of the flowers…again this filled me with hope that God was journeying with this friend and hadn’t given up on her.
More of that in a moment…
The Warehouse commits to “stopping” work every 2 months to dedicate a week to corporate listening and discernment. This involves community times, prayer, solitude and looking back to see where God has been stirring things in our work and what He is inviting us to for the next season. We have had three in the last 6(ish) months which have been really significant for Fusion. During the first week, I remember being part of a prayer group that was asking God what his heart was for The Warehouse in the new season and one of the images he gave us was of a person being rescued – with many hands reaching in to pull the person to safety – it symbolised the idea of the community going after the one.
Back to this friend’s story…
Through February and March, I saw individuals start to reach their hands in to rescue this young woman – there was us, the Fusion team, relentlessly pursuing her, speaking truth over her and pulling her to safety where possible: 5 hands. Then another friend of mine, who lives in a beautiful farm-like, peaceful place, welcome this friend into her home to sit on the stoop and watch the horses, have bubbles baths, watch movies and have some space from Manenberg: 6 hands. Shortly after, we had a “family” picnic where Fusion and our families met and in that time, my boss Jonathan’s wife connected with this friend and was broken. She said to Jonathan that she wanted this girl to come live with them, that she couldn’t stay where she was any longer: 7 hands. And so Jonathan and his family welcomed her into their home and offered their lives to her, which means this friend now has a family where she is supported and cared for by Jonathan and his wife, but also their kids. It’s beautiful to watch her be restored as a woman in her role as big sister to their children: 8, 9,10,11,12 hands.
Suddenly this young woman has been given the space to find and fight for her freedom and restoration. On the morning she moved into Jonathan’s home, a visitor from the UK joined Fusion for our morning prayers. As he was praying, he laughed and apologetically offered me a “cheesy” word that God had asked him to share with me. He said he saw a picture of a butterfly flying free from a cocoon! I laughed. Obviously that picture meant a lot to me, God had faithfully walked alongside me and my friend as we pursued her freedom, filling me with hope and encouragement when I just couldn’t see it.
Today, this friend is volunteering three mornings a week at an old age home which another friend of mine works in (13 hands) and is slowly coming alive in ways that fill me with such joy! Another one of the girls we work with befriended her, especially in the beginning when she was missing home, and quietly ministered to her whilst doing her hair for her: 14 hands. It’s amazing to see the guys and girls we work we start to hold each other up, spur each other on and build good, healthy relationships. Continue to pray for her and our community of young people as they are restored but that as they grow, they pull other women and men with them, that as they have been pulled to safety, they become one of those hands for someone else.
As I mentioned above, the times of “stopping”, as facilitated by The Warehouse, have been so important for Fusion. Over the last three, as we have asked God questions about the Transformational Community House (residential) that we are trying and trying and trying to get off the ground, He seems to be inviting us to journey deeper in what it means to be Missional Community in Manenberg – namely – what does it look like if we are the answer to our own prayers, what if we are the house parents, what if we develop the culture of honour and respect that we dream of seeing?
What this means, we’re not entirely sure, and we are discerning with The Warehouse as to what this could mean for Fusion as a project and us as a team. What we do know is that God is inviting us to invest more of ourselves, to live transparent lives of integrity and we think it might mean us living “together” in Manenberg at some point. It’s pretty exciting, it’s pretty daunting and we’re only at the beginning of a long road, but pray with us as we listen to our Father and respond to what He is saying.
Finally…I am about to return to the Motherland for some relatively significant family engagements, a time of rest and holiday, connecting with special people and introducing a friend of mine from Cape Town to my first home. Pray for me as we travel, as I connect with folks and as I share stories of God’s Kingdom breaking forth here in Manenberg.
His love never fails.