Last night I had the privilege of attending the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) Christian Medical fellowship end of year function. This was a trip of first times for me, so was a special one.
Some background to set the scene. In July this year I was asked to take on the role of Student Secretary for CMF South Africa. Since then, I have been figuring out what this entails. So far it has meant joining a lot of WhatsApp groups, sending messages, a few phone calls, praying for the student groups, a few Skype conference calls and some road trips. It’s been quite fun trying to keep in touch with guys from the different medical schools around the country, although I feel very far removed sitting where I am in Kokstad. I have been inspired again and again by the students I have been communicating with and those I have met in person and hope to learn quickly how to serve them well.
So here is where all the firsts come in.
1. It was my 1st time actually going to Mthatha – not just passing through- my actual destination was Mthatha. This is a relatively short drive from my home in Kokstad, but one full of beauty. The road runs out of Kokstad following the contours of some pretty impressive mountains. It is lined by settlements and the more than occasional domestic animal along the way adds character to the scenery and intrigue of the journey. I was awed by the depth of the colours as forestry scaled cliffs with waterfalls to meet the cloudy sky. The hills fall behind and a land of valleys passes below. These are almost more impressive than the mountains with their sheer depth being dizzying and the view they reveal breathtaking. Cows watched from an abandoned, rusty but picturesque bridge as I crossed over a river and entered Mthatha.
2. Needless to say, it was my first time at WSU. It has a single campus which looks like it was built in its entirety at one time. The architecture is all similar, although striking, and all of the same cement colour from the bricks of the road to the walls and pillars of the buildings. It was eerie wandering through looking for my destination. The campus was quiet on a Saturday evening, the few people I passed were on their way elsewhere. I climbed two spirals of cement-coloured stairs to reach the “Great Hall”. The massive room also had few occupants but all radiant in their formal attire. The lights were on brightly revealing a stage dressed in bright draping and from which loud worship music was radiating as the band practiced. I was struck by the vibrancy, colour, life and warmth in contrast with the cool, dull evening outside. This I took as a metaphor for what these Christian students are on their campus and what they will one day bring to their workplaces.
3. My first end of year function was a bit like eating pudding before the dinner. I enjoyed the celebration of a year well spent, although I had nothing to do with the process of spending it. None the less, it was an evening of great impact. As the proceedings commenced people continued to stream in forming a crowd much larger than I and seemingly the organisers anticipated. The group revealed their love for Jesus as they just couldn’t help worshipping at every opportunity lead by a worship team largely comprised of the WSU CMF executive. The exuberance was inspiring and the chorus of “I’m chasing after You! No matter what I have to do. I need You more and more!” set the tone for the evening.
CMF was explained by one of the students as “home”. I have never heard this word used to describe this organisation before but here at WSU it fit. Everyone interacted with each other with affection, a degree of mischievousness and an ease which shouted that they are family.
The guest speaker, Dr Mpongwana (also obviously a beloved member of the WSU family), spoke on “shining your light”. She emphasised that God called us to be impactful. It is our responsibility to ensure that Christ in us is seen and experienced where ever He has placed us. Well, His light was evident that evening and the fruit of this was that we could rejoice as three young men came to salvation.
His light continued to shine as the new executive for 2017 was announced. I look forward to seeing how these torch bearers will share their light. Three final year students took the opportunity to take an oath dedicating their careers to God. It was very special witnessing these young ladies affirming their commitment to Christ and a wonderful reminder to me, and I think the other doctors, of what we have committed to as Christian health care workers.
The evening ended with some fun and large quantities of food. I left feeling very satisfied and accepted into a new family. This was apparent when some big brotherly over-protectiveness was displayed. It was absolutely unacceptable for me to drive across the road to the B&B where I staying. Instead, I was escorted all the way, by a team for the on foot journey and a car which followed on the motorised portion.
Thank you, WSU CMF for a lovely evening!
(For more photos, see the full post on Tamryn’s blog)