One of the highlights of the trip was being able to stay with the McCauley's. Alan, Xana and the kids were great hosts. The live in a community called "Hands of Compassion." They had many stories, and were very encouraging to us. They are currently compiling their stories, so hopefully we will all be able to read them in the near future :)!
About 25 years ago, Alan and Xana went on a tour in the United States, on a quest to see what it means to live in community. They visited many different intentional communities and spent a great deal of time with "Jesus People" in Chicago. Having lived in the thick of Apartheid, they were fed up with the unjust situation they found themselves in, and decide to do something different. When they returned to South Africa, they approached the folks at their church, Rhema (www.rhema.co.za) about starting an intentional community that would include both white and black folk. Though it was illegal, and highly dangerous, the church was supportive and community was birthed. They moved into a house in the countryside with a "mixed" group of people. I wish I could remember all of their stories and had the time to write them here. Today the community is made up of over 100 people! It is truly amazing what they have become. They have folks living with them that are in recovery. We found a pleasant similarity between their approach and our friends approach at New Jerusalem here in Philly (http://www.newjerusalemnow.org/). They also have several homes that have new mothers and their babies, as well as a place for children, many of them orphaned. They also run a health clinic that also services the neighborhood as well. For 10 months of the year they run a program very similar to Mission Year (www.missionyear.org) called SWAP (Serve With A Purpose). I had a great time talking with them and comparing their experience with the ones folks have doing MY. Oh, I almost forgot that they have a HUGE chess set outside as well.
Hands of Compassion was a beautiful expression of community. What was even more exciting was that they have been going at it for over 20 years! Hands of Compassion did not become what it is today, overnight. They had to take risks, they had to suffer. At the same time they laughed and were filled with joy. What they have become today is a direct result of their doing small things with great love! They did not have a grand vision, then, of what things would look like today. They simply loved God and their neighbor. It is in doing small things with great love that we are compelled to take a step back once in a while and realize some pretty amazing things are going on!