When strangers become family

The Engedi group arrived as strangers and departed as family.

A family reunion…that was the phrase used to describe the essence of the Engedi group’s time together in South Africa on Experience Africa 2015.

If you had been eavesdropping, you would have heard laughter and tears around the meal tables, sharing of life experiences across generations, speaking of truth into each other’s lives and situations, the telling of some great romance stories, and the sharing of wisdom in business and ministry.

Twelve people, all of different ages and countries made up this reunion. They had never met before, but they share a rich bond of faith in Jesus and similar places of life in business and ministry.  Together they experienced physical and spiritual adventures for 11 days in an unbelievably beautiful country.

It was delightful and refreshing in every way.

They spent time on the breathtaking coastline of Cape Town and surrounding areas in the beautiful southern region of South Africa.  They hiked in a rain forest, walked on top of Table Mountain overlooking the tip of Africa, hiked sand dunes in the early morning, experienced a South African wine tasting, strolled the coastline, experienced a true South African braai, feasted like kings and queens, and received a ministry overview of Africa.

During their retreat time together, Josh Patty led them in studying and experiencing how to hear and discern God’s voice in the noise of life.  Through teachings and discussions they were challenged, encouraged, and equipped for their different places of business and ministry.

After Cape Town, they moved north for a safari in the African bush.  What an incredible worship experience seeing God’s creatures great and small!  Even our guides were amazed when the group spotted every animal that they had wished to see.  What a gift!  The hours spent together in the open vehicles with their guide, driver and each other was full of joy, laughter, and amazement.  During their safari time, the group was also given a fascinating economic overview of Africa, which sparked some good discussion.

The staff in both locations were a blessing in very significant ways.  Several times members of the staff approached group leader, Laurie Doden, asking, “Who are these people?  We have never had a group like this before.”  I think they saw Jesus through them.  The group had the privilege of praying for some of the staff toward the end of their stay – in ways that Laurie prays will impact them forever.

After the trip, one of our participants told Laurie, “I actually cried when we left each other at the airport.  I knew we would have a good time, but I didn’t expect to make life-long friends.”  Some of this South African “family” are having a reunion this summer, and it is inspiring to see these relationships continue.

It was a sweet and blessed family reunion in South Africa – one where everyone walked away richer…in relationships, in refreshment, in kingdom work, and in their walk with Jesus.


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