“Grace, fly to South Africa in faith. I will be with you every step of the way and provide for you”. I remember writing these words in my journal on Monday, April 29, 2019. Prior to this day, I was still unsure if I was meant to be in Cape Town for a semester of my senior year in college. These were the words I received from God that confirmed my study abroad trip to Cape Town, South Africa. 7 months later, as I reflect on my time in Cape Town, I cannot find the right words to eloquently and adequately describe how wonderful and gracious God has been to me. No words can do my experience in Cape Town any justice.
I entered the city of Cape Town on the 4th of July, my birthday marking a new age, chapter and season of my life. My heart was filled with excitement and joy as the next season of my life awaits on the continent I call home. A season of deep intimacy with God, healing, wholeness, restoration, and preparation. “A time in the wilderness” (Luke 1:80, Luke 4:1) as God defines it. My time in Cape Town gave me the opportunity to grow intimately in my relationship with God. I began to learn and experience God as my Abba Father and embraced my identity in Him as the Daughter of the Most-High God. He took me back to moments in my childhood where I was emotionally wounded and traumatized to bring me healing and freedom in places that I did not even know existed. My experience enabled me to trust God wholeheartedly and surrender to His will for my life. He gave me many revelations about the person He created me to be, my purpose and the amazing journey ahead of me. There is so much freedom in knowing that I do not have to figure out everything on my own, but God is faithful to reveal every plan He has for me and the steps to pursue those plans. He also allowed me to share His love with the people He led me to encounter in Cape Town. He provided for all of my needs and exceeded all of the 18 expectations I wrote and prayed into for SA. He blessed with me three church families and friends that helped to foster my spiritual transformation. In addition, He filled me with so much love in places I used to fill with people and activities and gave me peace that surpassed my own understanding when things became hectic and scary. I can honestly say that I felt the most loved, free and at peace here in South Africa.
In the moments where I felt unsafe, afraid and discriminated against, I was able to invite Jesus into those emotions and experiences. I went to God and spoke to Him about those things with tears in my eyes. He responded by saying, “You are in Cape Town for such a time as this and I am here with you through it all. You are not alone, trust Me”. Let me tell you, those were very difficult and vulnerable conversations with God, but He used those moments to open my eyes to the realities of Black people; specifically; Black women in South Africa. He also affirmed my deep desire for decolonization and my purpose of being a minister of social justice, reconciliation, and healing in the lives of Black women in Africa and the Diaspora. I also had the chance to spend more time with myself, which gave me room to learn things about myself that I did not know before. Moreover, I learned how to embrace my discomfort, which is one of the most difficult things I have ever learned throughout my whole life.
One of the most interesting experiences I had was the way God used my Language, Power, and Freedom in Africa course at the University of Cape Town (UCT) to minister to me. He reminded me of how important it is for Christians to have a personal relationship with Him. He also revealed how dangerous it is to preach the Gospel without a personal encounter with Jesus and a relationship with the Holy Spirit. He confirmed something I had on my mind, “How do you speak about the God you do not even know and the Good News, you have not even experienced for yourself?” He emphasized on the essence of a relationship, not religion. A revelation I believe the European missionaries failed to realize and made Christianity a tool of oppression instead of liberation (Luke 4:18). This is relevant to the numerous conversations I engaged in and outside of the classroom regarding the African identity and the Christian faith. Parts of my identities that the Lord helped me to reconcile during my time in Cape Town.
Furthermore, one of my memorable experiences was witnessing a spiritual transformation in the life of someone who has become a dear friend and sister. She came to South Africa with the goal of growing closer to God. The Lord led me to disciple her and we both have grown tremendously in our love for God. Seeing the love, peace, and freedom she experienced in Christ brings me so much joy. Joy from the heart of the Father.
There are not enough words to even articulate my life in Cape Town. My time in Cape Town was all a part of the process and God’s plan for my life. This trip was deeply connected to uncovering my true identity in Christ and my future with Him. God met me in Cape Town out of all places in the world in ways that I could have never imagined. He met me in my brokenness, desires, friendships and even my classroom. He has transformed my life around. I am returning back home closer to the woman God created me to be. Hopefully, my family and friends will be excited to meet and learn more about this new Grace.
"And now I present to you, Ms. Grace Appiah!"