The value of being (rudi von staden)

Yesterday a good friend of ours, Rudi von Staden, came to visit. Here follows an extremely profound extract from an email he wrote following the visit:

What was amazing to me is that it felt so ordinary to just be there, and perhaps that is what made it spiritual. We were not trying to do give, or do, or uplift. We were only there to be, and we could relate as fellow humans. I think God exists in the space between people who are open to one another. Too often the door is closed from our side. Perhaps by always focusing on social upliftment, we are maintaining our aloofness. In seeing how people relate to one another in the township, and how warmly we were received when we had nothing to offer, I realized that true poverty is relational rather than economic. Before we come with anything, we have to first come with nothing.”


  1. Two quotes from Shane Claiborne come to mind as I read this…

    The first…
    “I asked participants who claimed to be “strong followers of Jesus” whether Jesus spent time with the poor. Nearly 80 percent said yes. Later in the survey, I sneaked in another question, I asked this same group of strong followers whether they spent time with the poor, and less than 2 percent said they did. I learned a powerful lesson: We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.”

    And the second takes it a bit deeper…
    “And that’s when things get messy. When people begin moving beyond charity and toward justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with the folks in struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to charity. One of my friends has a shirt marked with the words of late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: “When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.” Charity wins awards and applause but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get crucified for living out of love that disrupts the social order that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping poor people. People are crucified for joining them.”
    ― Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

    So many of my friends talk of their becoming friends with the poor as a second conversion experience. You can never be the same again. Your eyes are now wide open! God bless you guys as you continue in your journey!

  2. Erin J says:

    Maybe we are the ones who should be going with our hands out, begging, rather than with our condescending lordly handouts. Maybe we are the ones who are pitiful poor, blind and naked, and these neighbors of ours can teach us how to be whole in family, clothed in love, and to see in the Spirit.

    Erin, adoptive mom of Ethiopian Abi, American Cody, and bio mom of Natalie and Seth.

  3. Tumisho says:

    I am deeply touched *Teary Eyes*………

  4. Asanda says:

    I am so proud of you. you are doing what I call “earning” your right to talk about what is happening in the our country especially in relation to how the poor live. Sometimes we are too quick to judge or give our opinion without ever seeking to understand. What you have done, I don’t think I would ever do even though I am black and not rich…yet.

    One thing I know though is that you will never be the same again. I hope you have begun to see the warmth in our people and how regardless of their situation, they always just seem content.

    I also hope that through your eyes, many white people will get a glimpse of the black culture that most aren’t willing to understand.

    Otherwise, may the good Lord fill you with his love more and more.

  5. Marlik says:

    Now this is the time that people should realy think across the lines of race, and ask yourselve’s are all whites racist or are all blacks thugs, ,,,lots of love to your’ll make the spirit of non-racial be embedded on all of us living in Mzansi

  6. Tumi says:

    I am touched by your Words Erin. @ Times it is the poor who seems to be content with what they have and goes to bed peacefully than those guarding and eager to increase their possessions that seems never enough

    • Shirley says:

      Gosh Tumi, you really striked a cord. Although by no means am I rich, I just looked around me at all the mindless “stuff” my family have and feel bizarrely ashamed!

  7. Kolobe Efraim says:

    Dear Ena may God bless you and your fammily forever.I know this test will make you to write a good book that many who have no taste what blacks are experiencing can believe you.I WISH I can meet you one day to thank you for yor wisdom.I’m writing fro Riyadh Saudi Arabia I left my two kids with their granny as we could not afford they are 5 and 1 year old boys.I wish this unity month will be educational to many with what you did.Your children will be the most wise as they will miss this month.May the SA government see this as the test to all “that better life for all” as Mandela used to say can be priority rather than what is prevailing in the country.You touched our herats you and your family we love you.Efraim

  8. […] friend sent Julian an email after visiting them in the settlement. He wrote, “Perhaps by always focusing on social […]

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