Called to be free... faith across boundaries
My name is Eileen. I am 22 years-old and live in Switzerland. When I was asked if I could share a short testimony on the theme “Called to be free…faith across boundaries,” I immediately remembered this experience.
A little more than two years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa, and volunteer for eight months in an orphanage supported by the Swiss Mennonite Mission. During this time I lived in Mitchells Plain, one of the largest townships of Cape Town. I experienced many new, valuable, beautiful and funny things, but also sad and difficult things, and was challenged again and again to leave my comfort zone. One of these challenges was the question of security.
In Switzerland, I am used to being able to walk around by myself at all times. In Mitchells Plain however, I was told I should not walk by myself because of the high rate of crime, especially as a young woman. In the beginning, this was difficult for me. I wanted to move freely on the streets, and struggled with having to walk in groups, not being able to be outside once it got dark, not being able to talk to strangers, and having to hide my valuables.
The orphanage I worked in consisted of several houses, and we volunteers were designated each to one of the houses. Since the houses were apart from each other, we could not actually walk as a group at all times. Thus, I walked to the house I worked in by myself each morning. And each morning I walked past two women talking with each other and mustering me critically. I felt a little uncomfortable walking past them, but I always greeted them and then walked on.
One day, as I was walking past them, they called me towards them. First, I was not sure how to react, since I had been told not to talk to strangers. I gathered my courage and walked over to them. The two women gave me a concerned look and then asked me: “Mag ons vir u bid?” (Can we pray for you?)
I had expected a lot of different things, but not that they would want to pray for me! They told me they were good friends – one Christian and one Muslim – and that they met each morning to pray for their neighbourhood and for the whole township. They told me they had been watching me for a while now and did not approve of me walking all by myself, since it was dangerous. So, the two of them had prayed for God’s protection over me since they had first seen me walk to work.
After this, I met up with the women every day on my way to work. We prayed together and got to know each other better. I was deeply touched by this experience which showed me how faith and prayer can overcome the boundaries of language, culture and even religion.
–A Mennonite World Conference release by Eileen Hofer (Switzerland)
This testimony is part of the YABs Fellowship Week worship resource for 2018. Click here to see more: mwc-cmm.org/yabsfellowshipweek