“You have such a lovely smile!” I exclaim as I walk past his store of sweets that he is opening. The icy morning wind breathes against my skin.
He laughs. “Thank you. What is your name?” his hand reaches out to greet mine. “I am John, Pastor John”.
“Wow, so you are a Pastor? Is that your dream in life?”
“Yes”. His smile is contagious, it has even taken over his eyes. “I am from Malawi, but I came here to South Africa in 2009. I have been here for some time now. I had a dream to have a church, to preach the word of God, and ya I have my church. This is my reason for being here, you know?” His eyes sparkle.
“So you obviously like South Africa if you have been here for so long?” I ask.
“Yes, me I like it. Some people come here for a month and they cry and want to go home because they see all the bad going on here, and yes there is bad, but it all depends on your attitude in life. You see, many people come to me and ask how can I be a Pastor if I am so poor, how can I live in a squatter camp and be a Pastor – but look at me” his smile now expands even bigger than before “I am the richest person that I know! Money doesn’t make you rich, it is what is in your heart that makes you rich!”
“Exactly!” I agree with him, happy to have met Pastor John. “I have started this Dream Catching Project because I am hoping to capture people’s dreams because thats where the true wealth lies, inside our hearts, in our dreams! You are a good man, John!” I give him a high 5.
“Yes, me I am good. But not all good, I am also a bit bad, even me. You know, life is not always fair and it is testing us all the time so we must watch how we act. Maybe I like someone but she don’t like me, this is not fair, but this is life. I see many people they are complaining and they are walking down the wrong roads and so I am happy to bring them back to the path of light to the word of God. I can’t judge anyone, I can only help, you know? But now, I am living here in the squatter camp and there is no money in the church so I am fixing people’s shoes and selling sweets to make some money and then maybe I can help someone who needs it. But people think too much about this money, they think it brings them richness, but no, only inside!” We both laugh because of an understanding that we share. “But here in South Africa, I see that the white man and the black man they are not together, they are living separately” he begins. “Why it is like this?”
“I know, it’s sad. It’s also why I wanted to start this, to meet wonderful people like you and come together. We have had enough time of being separated in history… but it seems money separates us” I begin.
“You know, I was working with a white man and he complained about the black man and said that the black man is like a monkey, but this made me very furious inside because me I am also black man! I told him that I don’t want to work with him anymore and he tried to apologise but this is not how you treat your brother, calling him a monkey!”
“I’m sorry about that…”
“It is ok. I can’t judge anyone, I can only spread the truth, the light. God is always there to guide us if we ask for help. Like yesterday I was in Fishoek at the church and by the time I was done to come home I go to the bus stop and the buses are all gone. I didn’t know how I was going to get back home! But I just go inside and ask God to help me and then someone came to fetch me and brought me home! This is the life, you know?” his smile burns a flame in my heart “And you are now here talking to me, this is not us talking, this is because God sent you here to me! So, we must thank Him!” he raises his hands up to the sky and I follow suit.
“Thank you!” we both shout out between giggles, our arms raised up to the sky, excitedly like little children.
“Every moment is like this. We must give thanks. This is my reason, to help others. Maybe it is in His plan for the church to make money I don’t know, but it is OK, either way I will do this because this is my dream. I am a man of wealth in my heart and this is why I am smiling! I can fix the people’s shoes to make money and sell sweets, you know?” he says.
I am reminded of the zen proverb: before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water. In John’s case: before enlightenment fix shoes, sell sweets. After enlightenment, fix shoes, sell sweets.
“Imagine if everyone on the planet felt the way that you did giving importance to what is in their hearts over what is in their bank accounts – it would be heaven on earth!” I smile back at him.
“Yes! This is why we are here, to make it happen!” he rejoices.
What do you think? What is your dream? When was the last time that you felt like the wealthiest person on the planet because of the overpowering love in your heart? Today is your day! We are alive 🙂 Let’s feel gratitude and give thanks for being wherever we are, as we are – because it is all perfect as it is. x x x