[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
I met my husband Rest while we were students at the University of Cape Town in 1996. We were friends throughout our remaining years at university. He is from the Bushbuckridge area in Mpumalanga while I am from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. My mother knew of our friendship and knew when we got engaged. My family knew of our relationship. They knew that we were going to have visitors from Mpumalanga the last Saturday of September 2000.
During their visit I was called in to answer the question “Do you know these people?” If one was/is not raised in the Xhosa culture perhaps this question would sound foolish as obviously my family knew that I “knew these people”.
As many might know the initial stage in the marriage of the bride and groom in the African culture is lobola negotiations or negotiating the bridewealth (Brideprice). The groom sends his delegates to the bride’s place to ask for her hand in marriage. He asks for her family’s blessing in making her his wife. For the two families to come together the elders of the families then sit down to discuss lobola. It is during this process when the groom’s delegates are at the bride’s home that she is then called in to be asked “Uyabazi ababantu?” (Do you know these people?). Because the delegates are there to represent the groom what the bride’s family is effectively asking the bride is “Do you know him?”; “Do you know this man that these people are representing?”
Before the delegates come the lady will tell her mom or aunt about the people who will be coming. One of the first questions she will be asked is “Tell me about his family! What kind of people are they? Do you know him?”
Getting to know each other
In the olden days it was the parents who found a bride for their son and it was between the parents to agree for their children to be married one day. How families determined their future in-laws is by watching how they are as a family. Is their name respected in the community? Do they conduct their family issues in a dignified manner? The grooms and bride’s parents took this role very seriously as they did not want their family’s name associated with a family which was looked down upon because they had questionable behaviour and reputation. In this day and age it is often the children who fall in love and agree to be married only to involve their parents later when they start the process towards marriage. There is a period of getting to know each other.
During this coming week the focus all over the world will be on commemorating the death and resurrection of our Lord. For many they will observe a ritual they do every year during this time…going to church. They go only twice a year during Easter and during Christmas. There are also those who Sunday in and Sunday out they go to church and are active in their church activities. If you were to ask them about their spiritual walk they will name all the activities they do at church and all the outreach programs they are part of. They are no different to Martha in Luke 10:38-42 who during Jesus’s visit to her home she shared with her sister Mary was busy with everything else except attending to her guest. When she complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping but was sitting at His feet, Jesus said, 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. What is needed is to be attentive to the Lord Jesus. What is needed is to spend time getting to know Him. He is not a building but is omnipresent wanting all of us to know Him and to be close to Him not only twice a year but throughout every passing moment.
As the groom pays the lobola in African culture for the bride to be part of his family so Jesus paid the ultimate price for us to be part of His family. Our salvation is not cheap. It cost Jesus His life. He laid it down for me and for you so we might live. The sentence because of the sin in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve and all of humankind was death and life in hell but Jesus in His mercy came from Heaven and paid it all for us. John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the World that He sent His only begotten Son so whoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life”. We now belong to him …to be called His own.
I now have a family in Bushbuckridge because I said ‘yes’ to Rest Kanju. I can go through my inlaws house as a member of the family because my family and I accepted their son’s lobola and the two families were joined. I now call his father my father because on that Saturday of September I said I knew their son and in front of those who attended our wedding I stood in front of that congregation and said I will be his wife. If those events did not take place and I did not vocalise my commitment to my husband I would not be called his today. Do you know Him?
Ask yourself do I know him. As the church let us take time to know the One who we profess to love. During this Easter/Passover time let us be found falling more and more in love with Him. Our Lord laid down His life for us and endured unimaginable pain for you and for me. Our salvation was not won in laughter but in pain. It took enduring the cross and overcoming the grave for us to have our freedom. Let us not do as the Roman soldier did and spit on the Lord’s act of love but truly appreciate what He did.
This Thursday marks 21 years that I have been a Christian…that I have been part of His family. Every year I do a lot of soul searching and stocktaking in my life, especially in my spiritual walk. I have to ask myself this very question as well: What are things He likes and what does He hate? What would He have me do? As Christians we are sometimes quick to judge each other. We are quick to say our denomination is the best. In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the Way! The Truth! The Life! Nobody comes to the Father except through me.” It will not be through our denominations or through the pastor that we are allowed into Heaven. We will be allowed into Heaven when we know and have accepted the “brideprice” that He paid for us.
If you want to be part of His family this Easter/Passover and be called His very own; If you want to accept all that He did for you at the cross; the price He paid for you and for me please repeat these words:
“Dear Lord Jesus, I come to you today! I believe in your cross and in your resurrection. I believe that you died for me and you rose again on the third day. Please come into my heart and become my Lord and Saviour. I give my life to you and I want to live for you from this day forward. I pray this in your name Jesus AMEN!”
The way to Heaven remains…His Name is Jesus. Do you know Him?
I would like to connect with you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org