By Papama Mtembeka
Forming my own Vuku Family group has been a life-changing experience for me. I started my Vuku meetings in February this year with two of my friends at University I study Political Science and Information Systems at UCT and my friends are both pursuing business Science Degrees in Finance and Analytics. We were close friends starting off but being Vuku members created a new more important dynamic in our relationship. One of my members was already a believer, attending church three times a week and the other one had just started therefore we were all at different places in our lives with Jesus. I have always thought of myself as Christian, but I only recently made the decision to truly accept Jesus into my life and starting to see what he has done for me and how much he loves me. The beginning of my Vuku Meetings was the beginning of my journey in Christ’s love. God gave me a renewed heart that wants to love others not because it makes me feel good or I want to be loved back, but so that they may know Jesus Christ’s love that I was experiencing. Regardless of what we thought we knew about Jesus, each meeting felt like learning new information and shifted our perceptions of what being Christian means. We had to learn to let go of pre-existing notions of what being good Christians means and focus on our relationships with each other, what our relationships mean to us, and the love and care required to maintain them. We learned that for our relationships with each other to have real value, we would need to have a foundation in Christ’s love. That brought us closer to each other than we were before.
Over the past couple of months, we have grown individually and as a collective in our relationship with Christ. When we were still meeting on campus each meeting was centered around getting to know each other
and sharing Christ’s love between ourselves. When the pandemic started, and we had to go home that was a big change for us. As a leader, I was concerned about how we would be able to continue and whether the
meetings would have the same impact. As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry because God had already started working in their lives and they were excited to continue by whatever means necessary. This was a big encouragement for me because when I was in doubt God showed himself to me through them. Once we had started meeting online, barring a few technical issues, we were continuing to grow individually and as a group. Being at home with our families we had the opportunity to practice what we have been learning about love. My friends each had different, but positive responses. Sometimes it would be little things like not getting mad when a sibling does something to hurt them, facing past traumas from a parent, and learning to forgive them with love. One time one of my friends was excited to tell us about her mom’s response of genuine gratefulness to God for the first time after receiving good results for a test. They learned to find such joy in seeing his presence in small things in their lives.
Before having a Vuku Family group I didn’t really understand what it means to love others as Jesus loved me. That is mainly because I didn’t understand what Jesus’ love for me means. Like most people I understood that love as Jesus blessing me with good things, keeping me safe, and being there for me to pray to when I need things. It wasn’t until I started serving my members that I realize why Jesus died for me, why he loves me, and why I have to love them. The reason Jesus died for me and the reason why he loves me is for me to know God’s heart for me. Loving them became easier once I started understanding that my love for them is not for me, but to bring them salvation through getting closer to God. Seeing how my friends responded to this different kind of love and the meetings and seeing how God was working in their lives helped me see how God is working through me. I was able to see God’s love for me through what he was doing for them. Through caring for them I have learned what it means to have faith in God’s love and will for my life.
Recently, one of my friends was in trouble and because of the distance, I didn’t know what to do or how to help. I let myself worry about it so much that it was affecting my day. Due to taking on all of this trouble on myself, I didn’t leave much room for Jesus in my mind and heart. I couldn’t see what he was doing for me and for her in that situation because I’d momentarily forgotten how much he loves me. After I had a talk with my parents about the situation, I finally let go and placed my faith in God’s love for her and the change sharing Christ’s love with her has brought into her life. Going through that experience and the relationships I have been able to build in Christ’s love revealed to me what I had always been searching for. I completely let myself fully trust in and depend on God and I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I found the kind of peace that only God can give.
Since starting my own group, I became more attentive, affectionate, and kind towards my friends because I know that by loving them, they get to also experience Christ’s love for me and them. They have remarked that they can see the difference in how I care for them before and after we started our meetings. I am just starting out on my journey with Christ and getting to know God’s heart, but he has given me a taste of what life with him is like and I want more of that. Jesus has given me the desire to dive deeper into who Christ is and what a life walking with him looks like. Learning to depend on him in every aspect of my life and trust in his love for me and others around me.