Friday, 21 Feb a group of students from Tuks Missions went to serve at the coffeehouse, as we do every Friday night. But this Friday tested my serving spirit to the maximum. It’s one thing to serve the homeless people on the streets of Pretoria and the only personal cost is your time and prayers. It’s a whole different story if you serve the people on the street and the personal cost is R800, out of your struggling student account that just passed the basic criteria of actually being an account with legitimate money in it, to the local police station. Admittedly it is my own fault for parking in a space that wasn’t marked as a parking space, but it could have gone both ways in my mind, and it did go a way, it went south, way way south!
As I was in the worship service under the tent of the coffeehouse a friend came and told me my car is being towed. Looking like a charismatic listener I jumped up in the middle of the service running for the gate thinking “how am I going to tell my dad about this” my second thought isn’t something I can share on a respectable Christian blog like this. I came there just while the police truck was driving off. I ran to the drivers window and pleaded with the police officer to give me some slack as I am a student, serving the city of Pretoria and didn’t know I wasn’t suppose to park there. With much effort and a legitimately desperate approach from my side the police officer said that the only way he can help me is if I climb in the truck with him, he’ll take me to the police station where I can pay the fine and then he can only un-clamp my car at the clamping zone station. My proudly South African upbringing reaction was “no offense, but I’m (a small, blond, vulnerable, self-proclaimed ninja warrior girl) not going alone with you, in a truck further into the city of Pretoria in the dark. It’s not you, it’s me.” It wasn’t me, it was him. I read to many tweets of police officials attacking young woman. But I didn’t want to be stereotyping the situation but also I didn’t want to take the chance.
So I got one of the guys on our team to go with me in the police truck to go get my car unclamped. Throughout the whole ride I wasn’t even mad, I was just super bummed out I’m wasting R800 like this. Out of my typical blond naivety I asked the police officer if I can get a student discount. In my innocence I really thought it would be possible because you can get student discounts in Hatfield for about anything. But in some circles this statement would be considered a bribe. The police officer that was driving told us that he was a pastor and his job is to catch people who don’t abide by the law. In the midst of this all the two police officers in the truck started asking a lot of questions about the coffeehouse. “What were you doing there?” “we are serving the homeless people in Pretoria, praying together and worshipping the Lord together (well, we were doing this before you guys clamped my car! I didn’t say that but I thought it).” “What church is it?” “we are people from a lot of different churches just coming together and serving.” “How can normal people contribute?” “(well, for starters by giving me some slack on my car… again I thought this) Well, the coffeehouse has a lot of needs, the biggest need is food and then clothes, blankets and basic needs. Also they need a lot of dedicated people just to spend some time there amongst the people.” “Why don’t we know about this place, it should be on radio so people know where to contribute money.” “maybe my car got clamped so that I could tell you guys about the coffeehouse so now you know.” When they parked in front of the station for me to go and pay the magnificent R800 the pastor/ police officer asked me that I should pray for him to get this job he wanted in the force. It was in this specific moment of my life where I knew I should guard my heart and thoughts like never before. This was full on battle in my mind. “I should pray for you while you are taking R800 from me WITHOUT ANY STUDENT DISCOUNT!! Ok ok, then please pray for me that I can get R800 somewhere to pay this useless fine and then pray that I can get another R800 to give to the homeless people who doesn’t even have food or shelter tonight…” I thought this in the 3 seconds before I answered him in the strongest self controlling spirit I tried to obtain. I reminded myself that I am a witness for our Father even in this dire situation. There was an awkward pause. “Yes I will pray for you, what’s your name?” “Paul” “Paul the pastor, I will keep you in my prayers.” I paid the fine, got my car back and my friend reminded me that it was worth it if it was for the Kingdom’s cause. If Pastor Paul and his counterpart needed to hear about the coffeehouse it was a worthy sacrifice. Needless to say I am cutting back on my monthly coffee intake to work this monetary sacrifice into my student budget. And honestly I can’t wait to get back to the coffeehouse next Friday to see what other surprises this road of serving has in store for me. All for the glory of our Lord, all for His Kingdom!