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Fidel Castro: A Disgrace to Humanity

Today the world realised that one of its communist dictators had died, and I expected Western leaders, to strongly disavow of his legacy, and stand in solidarity with all those oppressed in Cuba, and Cubans in America or elsewhere. Unfortunately, I was mostly wrong.

Fidel Castro created a fascist left-wing communist dictatorship, which committed many atrocities1: enslaving and having dissidents killed, and drown those attempting to flee the country. The oppression continues today under the rule of Raúl Castro, his younger brother2, and I was indeed shocked by the manner in which many leaders of the so-called “free” world responded, some even admiring his legacy.

President of the United States of America Barack Obama made the following statement:

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.

For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends – bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba.

Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.

US President Barack Obama’s statement did not once mention anything about these evil deeds committed, not only against the Cuban people, but also against Americans.

But nevertheless Obama’s statement, the EU President Junker even made a subtle praising statement:

Fidel Castro was one of the historic figures of the past century and the embodiment of the Cuban Revolution. With the death of Fidel Castro, the world has lost a man who was a hero for many. He changed the course of his country and his influence reached far beyond. Fidel Castro remains one of the revolutionary figures of the 20th century. His legacy will be judged by history. 

Although I should not be surprised to hear such a relentlessly ignorant statement from Junker, I wonder how he could ignore the monster he is to so many oppressed Cubans, whether in present or past. Junker made Castro appear like a hero. What is next, describing Stalin as someone “revolutionary”? Truly disgusting!

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement took it to a whole other level:

It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President

“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.

How can a liberal, a so-called “progressive”, be so ignorant of Castro’s tremendous violations of basic human rights, which a liberal claims so strongly to advocate. Describing Castro as just an “controversial figure”! Prime Minister Trudea, what are your thoughts about the imprisonment of gay people, and of those killed opposed to his regime. Shameful!

How fearful is it, when a leader of a country or continent makes such ludicrous statements, some even admiring Castro. This causes me to wonder, what they would ultimately like to impose on you, and me, the citizens? A forced ban on dissent, perhaps? Sadly many people, ignorant of history, beyond these leaders, think Castro’s legacy worthy of praise. It’s about time they educate themselves about the truth.

Therefore, this day, I stand in solidarity with all Cuban people, whether in Cuba, the United States of America, or elsewhere, who have suffered, or continue to suffer from the Castro-created regime. I sincerely regret so many people have lost their lives. Today, I have kept you in my thoughts and prayers, and I will continue to oppose all praise to this despicable dictator and his loathsome legacy.

Let it be no secret, that I stand with you, and many more with me!
I want to join you in believing in, and praying and fighting for a future free of oppression and loss of life of your people.

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”—Psalm 34:17

¡Cuba Libre!

I strongly endorse this statement by the United States Sen. Marco Rubio:
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Sources

Theses sources have been added later to confirm references to facts.

[1] “Reports”, Cuba Archive, accessed November 28, 2016, http://cubaarchive.org/wordpress/reports/.

[2] “World Report 2016: Cuba”, Human Rights Watch, accessed November 28, 2016, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/cuba

Studying in Leuven

This September I started studying theology at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven, Belgium. I’ve gained lots of new experiences and befriended many good people!

I’m studying the the Old and New Testament (of the Bible–surprise!), the languages of the text (Greek and Hebrew), systematic theology (the logic of it all), other religions (religious studies), how to do research, and a couple of other subjects. All very interesting though, in their own special way… The languages Greek and Hebrew are my favourite so far. It’s been a struggle to keep up but it’s been great to conquer more and more complex vocabulary and grammar. It’s a work-in-progress!

It’s been a challenge to adapt to the varying ways of teaching of the professors and tutors. Clarity is extremely important to me, and I struggled to find it in a couple of subjects during these past time. Time-management has been another issue which I have had to deal with. I just need to focus on my goals, so I’ll finish well! But, if you’re studying, or still are, you perhaps know that this can be easier said than done. Next January 2017, I’m writing a whole lot of exams, so I need to schedule my time well! Thank God, I’m finding better ways to balance studying and relaxing, and getting more disciplined.

Throughout this time, my mentor has been very supportive in conquering these challenges. I just need to chill, and get my act together! I hope for the remainder 2016, I’ll continue to push hard, not give up, and end the year well!

PS I’m planning to write more blogs on a regular basis in the future. I hope it’s interesting to you.

 

 

University!

University!

It’s been a couple of months since my last post. I hadn’t got around to it. Previously, in April, I wrote about my time at Creare in 2015. I had not written anything about 2016. Now, it’s already the September, and I’m back in the Netherlands, and it’s time to write.

The year has gone fast. The first half I helped my parents in their missionary work. Specifically technology, admin and worship. Besides, I also started an online course in christian apologetics (def.) and philosophy of religion through the RZIM Academy.

The course and work prepared me for my next step, moving back to Europe. In May I applied for a 3-year BA in Theology and Religious Studies at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven, Belgium. I was accepted, and after discussing it with my parents I planned to fly back to the Netherlands in August, to prepare for this new chapter in my life.

During my 4.5 years in South Africa, I have come to get used to living at different places. I’ve namely lived in Knysna, Jeffreys Bay and Bloemfontein. The latter two away from my family. This time I’ve moved away from my family from South Africa to Europe. I certainly miss my family, but I can’t say it feels so much further away. We keep keep good contact texting, calling and video calling. Solace I find in meeting friends and family again.

The differences between South Africa and the Netherlands are obviously there. The Netherlands is a rich country compared to South Africa. Expressed in numbers: the GDP per capita in the Netherlands is $50,793.14, while in South Africa $6,617.91. That’s nearly 8 times less! In South Africa you see townships beside the road (and even highways), long streets of randomly-arranged shacks, something you don’t see at all in the Netherlands.

The past month, I have spent in Westergeest, one of the villages in the North-East Fryslân, the Netherlands. I have had the opportunity to meet friends and family, and work a couple of times, and support my hosts in and around the house. I even had the opportunity to join a sailing trip! It has been a good time.

I look forward to moving to Leuven on September 20th, but hope to make the best of my last two weeks in Fryslân. September 24th, I will start studying in Leuven (Belgium) at the Evangelical Theological Faculty. The first year is broad in subjects, ranging from theology, Greek, Hebrew to psychology and philosophy.

I’m excited to start writing the next chapter of my life.
Studying at a university; it was about time!

PS Check my Instagram for photos of my journey.

2015 in Review: Creare

Creare Logo.pngApril is already approaching, and the last day March is most-probably too late to review my nine-month stay and study at Creare Training Centre1 in 2015, but such the cliché expression speaks of: ‘better late than never’. In February, I arrived in Bloemfontein after a 6-week stay in the Netherlands. My objective: to be trained at the year program of Creare called Sons as Eagles, with a specific study path in music. The core subjects challenged me in that I encountered philosophy and theology that was different to what I believed. This is one of the aspects I didn’t perhaps enjoy the most, but it definitely developed the foundation of my Christian and the basis for my philosophical beliefs, and this is what I’m most thankful for.

Besides the core subjects, I studied several musical instruments, music theory, band dynamics and sound engineering. This created an opportunity to furthermore develop my musical and technological skills, and apply them.Practically, I was involved in the sound engineering aspect mainly, regularly manning the sound console and assisting in the transition from analogue to digital audio at the local church.
During the Southern-Hemisphere winter-months I assisted my parents in the HoliIMG-20150727-WA0004.jpgday Kids Club2, but in a later blog I’ll elaborate more on this. but back to Creare in July, together with a team  consisting Jolene, Garith and myself, we travelled through South Africa (mostly the Northern Cape) as part of a national tour. The team taught several art and theology subjects, but mainly to reach out to communities, churches and schools to show them the love of Jesus. As the last week became vacant, we had the opportunity to organise events in Knysna and Karatera. The tour not only increased our experience teaching or reaching out, but more-so strengthened the friendship amongst ourselves.

My time at Creare was incredibly engaging, at times pushing me beyond my limits, yet honestly, I would not have wanted to spend it anywhere else. The year provided me with such opportunity to become a better team-member, get skilled and connect with some fantastic people, and to reconnect with friends from VGY. Thanks Creare!


 

1 Originally a Christian art school, Creare is a Christian-based development centre with the intent of training students in the specific areas  You acquire skill and character which you will need later in life. Each student is required to study the core subjects, ranging from evangelism to worldview, with amain focus on biblical studies and missions. Students also need to choose a specific study path out of 10 wide-ranging options

2 The Holiday Kids Club is a week-long event that is organised by, Good News ZA. The Holiday Kids Club is part of an ongoing effort to change the life course of the children and youth of the rural villages surrounding Knysna. Their environment presses them in the direction of a hopeless future with alcohol and drug abuse. Good News ZA has a long-term vision to show the children and youth the way to a hopeful future in Jesus’ name.

Progression, or Regression?

Nowadays what most people like to do is rebel, rebel against laws and rules, standards that were put there in the first place to protect humanity against its social, moral and even economic failure, and violating each other’s liberty.  Western civilization has began determining the rules of a game called life, trampling on a millennium of moral, social, and economical frameworks in just 50 years. Humanity has judicially and morally started determining what is good and evil, ultimately for our own benefit. But is what we deem to be beneficial, really so? Just because it is pleasurable, does it mean that there won’t be harmful effects in the future? Just because we think we can change the rules and laws of life, have they changed (if they have), for better or worse?

As we embark on this ship of progress, is it Noah’s Ark, or the Titanic? Is what we call progress really such, or is it rather the result of our foul imagination, ultimately leading us to regret and regression.

The laws people are attempting to overthrow are only in place for those who ignore life’s basic principles (which lead to a life of fulfilment), for exactly those people who’d like to overthrow them. If you apply life principles in your life you’ll be functioning within its framework and protection of life and liberty for all human beings, and thus you wouldn’t require a law to keep you accountable.

Graduation—The End of a Great Year

Half-way during the year I wrote a blog concerning VGY in general. Now it is about half a year later, and this is the sequel. The year has passed quicklier than I had imagined, it passed by too fast. Many good things
have come out of this year. When I wrote my preceding blog-item, I could not have imagined how the rest of the year would be.

I have been shaped in my character greatly. God has given me more confidence to stand up for justice, more security to stand firm, more courage to speak up in silence,  more truth to live in freedom, more victory to live life!

I have been surrounded by wisdom, from people who have lived life and want carry their experience over to the younger generation. These men and women have taught me and the other students what makes us who we are and how we can draw our security from being a son of God. From this security 10629324_954106431272655_5908376142181029315_oflow our actions. We are not what we do, rather, we do according to our identity. When you realise what identity you have, you will act upon that. Once you fully realise that you are a son of God, then there is no space for hate and death because you realise that God as a father has given us guidelines for our benefit. God has not given these to hurt us but for us to prosper. I believe this is an ongoing process of further realising this truth from one area in your life to another. This also makes us immovable in difficult circumstances, when life doesn’t go our way.

I have been very blessed this year. And I believe that VGY has been of a significant effect in my life.

Victory Gap Year

This year in January I have started the Victory Gap Year (VGY) in Jeffrey’s Bay. VGY is more than a year of procrastination, it is a year in which youth gets equipped, empowered and sent out to advance the Kingdom of God. Victory Gap Year has started as an initiative of Victory Christian Church and has since then grown to be a gap year that has influenced many lives forever. There are in total 5 schools: Leadership Academy, Media Academy, Ocean Masters, Surf Masters and Worship Academy. I study at the one named last.

VGY Core – LECTURES

VGY core contain all the lectures and activities that all schools take part in. The lectures are to lay a Biblical foundation in one’s life. Some of these lectures also include after-care in small groups to talk about what they have experienced and learned, and to deal with issues. The house-leaders play a significant role in this. I can talk freely to the house-leaders about issues that bother me, they are trust-worthy. I have so far attended lectures including: Spirit, Soul and Body; Hebrew 6 Foundations; Ancient Paths; and Purpose and Destiny. Hebrew 6 Foundations deals with the basics of our beliefs, this confronted me with, what do I believe and why? Ancient Paths has taught me many principles concerning blessing and curse, concerning family. Purpose and Destiny provided me with insight to what God has destined me for.

VGY Core Activities

One of the most extreme activities is orientation. Orientation is a mix between major physical and mental challenge, to push us beyond our-thought abilities, and experience that we can do more than we thought we could. It taught me to push through and to obey accurately.

The weekly Church services of VCC with teachings of mainly Ps. Louis Els and Ps. Andre van Mollendorf. The morning service is for general visit, where-as the evening service is especially for youth but open to anyone. Both equally challenge me to move forward, and change further to become more like Jesus and to become more intimate with God, my heavenly father. These teachings have been a significant part my year so far, and it is only April!

In the upcoming month, all students are going on a National outreach to different areas of South Africa. I am thrilled to see what it is like to be on the other side. For the previous two years I was the one listening to the testimonies which encouraged me to go. I am certain that God will do astonishing things in people’s lives, including our own.

Other activities include: Poverty Week, Solitude Week, Community Projects, Church Involvement, Family Days, and the Graduation Ceremony.

Victory Gap Year has been a great journey so far!
This is the first article in a series about Victory Gap Year.