Did Live Under The Line challenge or change the way you live in anyway? Eulogi Rheeder shares how living on R10 a day opened her eyes to the individuals behind the statistics.
I’ve done Live Under The Line (LUTL) every year, but my hunger pangs always got the better of me and I usually gave up before the end of day one. This year, however, I was determined to complete the challenge or, at the very least, make it to the end of day two.
As I set out on the first day of the LUTL challenge, 9 September 2013, I asked God to freshly stir my heart for social justice in our City. Instead, He opened my eyes and gave me 13 million reasons to take Live Under The Line beyond the three days. Here’s my story…
Last year, my small group visited The Haven Night Shelter in Woodstock; our aim was to spend time and bless those who are vulnerable, in need and away from their loved ones. On the first night I met Diane*. She had come to South Africa from Malawi in the hope of creating a better life here. Instead, she found herself homeless, unemployed and at the mercy of others. I was touched by her story of bravery and her love for Christ, and how she didn’t allow her circumstances to dictate her zest for life.
My small group continued to visit the shelter every couple months and my friendship with Diane grew; she also started coming with us to Common Ground Innercity.
But soon enough ‘normal’ life – work, family, friends, church and other responsibilities – took over. And my friendship with Diane became secondary to the ‘more important’ stuff in my life. I would see her at church on Sundays and SMS her every other week, but my contact with her had become a social justice act without Jesus at the heart. In short, it was nothing more than just another task.
Fast forward to Wednesday, 11 September 2013, the final day of Live Under The Line. I had made it and was just a few hours away from finishing the challenge. Many of us were talking about what we would eat once we are allowed to break the R10 a day bank: Big Macs, a Vida cappuccino, a bacon croissant, Speckled Eggs… the list went on and on. As I was excitedly thinking about what I was most looking forward to eating again, Diane’s face popped up in my mind.
Although my heart had made the connection that Live Under the Line was recognising and identifying with how 13 million South African’s live every day, my eyes were starting to see the faces, stories, hopes and hurt behind the statistic – it was people like Diane.
Suddenly LUTL was no longer about the food, the money and the hard-hitting stat, but about the people; the 13 million individuals. This thought challenged me to think, how was I going to take LUTL with me into the rest of the year? How was I going to live social justice with the heart of Jesus for the other 362 days?
In John 13:34, Jesus instructs us to love one another just as He loved us. When I read this scripture on the afternoon of 11 September, I knew that this is how I (and you) can take Live Under The Line with me (us) every day: if I truly loved Diane, like Jesus loved me, she would be my friend; we’d have a real relationship; and Diane wouldn’t be just another tick on my social justice to-do list.
So, in the month since LUTL, I’ve freshly approached my friendship with Diane, based on John 13:34. We visit each other at our homes, we’ve gone for picnics and braais, and we encourage each other with scriptures. She’s told me about growing up in Malawi and I’ve shared stories from my teen years. I’m now purposefully spending time with her; not because I feel this is what I need to do, but because I’ve gotten to know Diane, and truly love her and call her my friend.
Diane and I come from very different backgrounds and very different circumstances, yet we meet each other in the middle because we love each other like Jesus loves us.
LUTL has not only allowed me to look at social justice with fresh eyes, but also challenged me that it’s not about what I do for social justice, but about how I do it.
So, how are you doing social justice?
*Name has been changed
– Eulogi is the communications manager at Common Good and a member of the Common Ground Church InnerCity congregation.