Grace and peace to you
In Methodist-speak, the Central Methodist Mission is not a Church, but rather a Society, a word that has an inclusive ring to it. A place where all are welcome to come and worship and where nobody is excluded.
Like all Societies, CMM relies on members of the congregation to assist with the running of the Society. These volunteers are known, uniquely at CMM, as Donkeys.
We hope the name becomes infectious.
People often ask why? Why use the name of an animal that is seen as a joke (jackass), is not considered beautiful (when compared to a horse or zebra) and stands last in the queue when it comes to needing attention?
A donkey is present at the birth of Christ; as it would have carried a heavily pregnant Mary to Bethlehem.
As we enter Lent we also know that on Palm Sunday it was on the back of a donkey that Jesus entered Jerusalem, ahead of his arrest, trial and murder.
I believe that the presence of the donkey in the story of both Christ’s birth and death is not coincidental, but rather a very calculated and understated lesson. It is always in the misunderstood, the abused, the neglected, the supposedly ugly, and the other that we find Jesus, his way and his teaching.
In the rural parts of South Africa, donkeys play an important role in assisting people to collect water and firewood as well as transporting families between the farms as they do seasonal agricultural work, such as sheep shearing and the harvesting of crops.
Like their owners, these donkeys are often treated badly and neglected.
I own two donkeys and they have taught me a great deal. That with basic care, donkeys are very willing and hardworking animals. They are highly intelligent, intuitive creatures and able to remain in good condition in a tough environment such as the Karoo.
A well cared for donkey will live up to the age of 50. They have a long gestation period and are excellent parents. Unlike horses, they cannot be made to perform, and prefer to quietly get on with their work.
So they are the perfect tool to help uplift poor communities.
Volunteers at CMM are proud to be called Donkeys.
So next time you see a donkey on your travels, I would encourage you to take some time out to stop, say hello and share an apple or a carrot. You may meet Jesus.
– A Member of the Donkey Team