“There was an old man named Michael Finnegan.
He grew whiskers on his chin again.
The wind came up and blew them in again!
Poor old Michael Finnegan
As my dear followers can’t have failed to observe, I’ve been absent from writing on a regular basis for some time.
Actually, I’ve not been absent from writing, just from being prepared to publish what I’ve written. I have 11 “Draft” entries on this site, and about a dozen more in actual notepads strewn around my home.
But, like the song says, time for me to “Begin again!”
The tide of my life changes regularly, a typical ebb-and-flow existence. I move through the time and try to ride the waves as best I can.
I returned to England in April 2017 after 14 years in South Africa.
I got a shock.
This country is not the country I left. Not by a long shot.
I finally truly get what CS Lewis meant when he wrote “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (I think that’s from “Mere Christianity”, but I’m not 100% certain – but I AM certain it was Lewis that said it!)
I loved living in Cape Town, my family is there now since my mum moved there ten years ago to be closer to me (ironically, since I’m now 8500 miles away again!), and my wife’s family is mostly in the city. It’s a wonderful place and some of my dearest friends I met there. But as much as I loved it, the country somehow never felt like “home” to me. I longed for the Westcountry of England, the only place I ever felt “happy” as a younger man.
I couldn’t really talk to Rene (my wife) about it because I didn’t have the words to explain it to her. Now we’re living in Somerset and she tells me most days how much she longs to be “home” in Cape Town again I’ve finally been able to talk to her a bit about it.
But there’s a problem.
This isn’t the country I left.
I said this to someone recently in town, and they immediately launched into an extremely offensive moaning session about immigrants coming over and taking British jobs etc, etc. He shut up and walked away when I interrupted him by saying “My wife isn’t British.”
It’s nothing to do with migrants, travellers, refugees or any other group that’s come into the country.
It’s the people who were here to start with.
Since the whole “Brexit” insanity and the open hostility since the vote towards anyone perceived to not be “British” is not the country I left. There was a certain racist element I experienced before leaving in 2003. My wife is South African, and we are of different “ethnicities”, whatever the hell that means. As a Brit, I can trace my ancestry back to both the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons that fought at Hastings in 1066. It made watching “Ivanhoe” very confusing for me as a young man since I had no clue who I should be rooting for! I also have Viking ancestry, as shown by the red in my beard (which is now going grey), and my skull shape (I’m told) has Celtic features. In short, I’m more of a “Heinz 57” than anyone from South Africa – as are most Brits.
The young racists I encountered before moving away saw me walking with my then fiancee and decided to give us some local sedimentary formations… by throwing them at us as we sat on a bench. They ran quickly when I challenged them – probably because I was at the time 240lbs, 6′ tall and a biker: hair I could sit on and a beard ZZ Top would be proud of.
Then the move to Cape Town (and a trimmed beard & return to a short-back-and-sides haircut).
Much of my time there is chronicled in earlier posts, so for brevity’s sake I won’t go into fine detail here, but in a nutshell…
The area we moved to was a previously “Whites Only” area, and Rene still got some hostile looks from the less enlightened white inhabitants. Particularly the ones who were left in a low-income employment bracket despite living on the “beneficial” side of Apartheid. There was a great deal of jealousy towards her for her achievements professionally and academically – which she managed in spite of the regime.
Then there was the area we worked in.
Rene had grown up there and wanted to give back to the community. I was cool about that. Until we got there.
The first few months were insane. Despite everyone knowing her, and knowing she was the doctor, people called me “doctor” – no matter how I tried to explain I wasn’t the doctor – and treated her like the receptionist!
After a few months it (mostly) settled down, and eventually I went to being simply “David” instead of “Baas” or “Doktor”.
The racism there is still far more overt than it ever has been in England – stone-throwing teenage jerks included. In the 14 years I lived there I watched the tide turn and saw what Madiba had left as his legacy become bastardised into a format that prevents experienced, qualified “white” or “coloured” people getting jobs or promotions over the inexperienced young “black” applicants. The biggest difference between the immoral and corrupt Apartheid government and the government of the ANC in recent years is nothing more than the amount of melanin in the skin of the people at the top oppressing the poorest members of society. I’m sure if I were to visit Nelson Mandela’s grave that the sound of his turning in it would be deafening.
But after 14 years away we decided to come to England after Rene got a job offer too good to turn down (on paper, anyway).
So we’re back, and now if I get a reply to a job application I’m being told regularly that either my experience is not “relevant” because it was in South Africa – apparently there are different criteria for “relationship management” specialists there than here. Presumably managers think I will be conversing in Zulu (because they don’t know there are 10 other “official” languages and cultures in South Africa) or that somehow the nature of a business relationship in Africa is different than it is in Europe (hint – it isn’t. We’re all human!). Alternatively, I’m told I am too experienced for a job. I have applied for several entry-level positions recently in fields which, while related to Relationship Management, are different enough that I know I would need to start at the bottom and be trained. Yet when I called some managers to ask if they could guide me I was told I should be applying for positions in senior management – just not with them!
So I’m back to my fail-safe position: Trusting God for guidance and provision.
But suddenly I find that’s not as easy as it used to be.
I’ve listened to Him though, and this week I have registered this ministry as a company in the UK: Eagle’s Wing Ministries Ltd.
Having to draw up a “business plan” for a ministry is difficult to say the least. I mean, how do you put “I do what God tells me to do” into language that a bank will take seriously when you go to open an account?
I have a number of people through the years who I have looked to as a form of mentor spiritually or in business, and sometimes both. One of the men I admire most, Dave Duell, went Home to his Friend, Jesus, a couple of years ago but I still have some of his teachings on cassette tape and one or two I even found on “YouTube”! Another is Andrew Wommack. The best thing about these Men of God is that I don’t agree with everything they say – and they don’t expect me to! I loved listening to the late Mike Yaconelli as well for the same reason. He said that he hated when people would come up and say “I agreed with everything you said”. I remember asking him after one talk at Greenbelt in 1991 in the UK why, and he said simply “I want to tell them ‘one of us isn’t necessary!'”
So I’m back. I hope regularly.
And I don’t expect you to agree with everything I write here, or that I post on the updates on Facebook or even when I finally start making videos and audio files on eagleswingministries.org
In fact, I’d love to interact with you! “Iron sharpens iron” says Proverbs 27:17. We are supposed to learn from one another.
So let’s sharpen each other.
And I’ll try to make sure I don’t have to begin again, again!