Our ecclesiastic and missiological ancestors and founders of Inanda mission and Seminary, Daniel and Lucy Lindley, were informed while itinerating in the United States during the advent of the Civil War that their home at Inanda burnt down. Sarah, their daughter, wrote:
In some respects it was just the thing for us – at least our heavenly Father has brought a great deal of good out of it; it awakened such sympathy that Papa and Mama are really better off than they were before the fire.
The Life and Times of Daniel Lindley (1949) reads:
The Board voted seven hundred dollars for rebuilding and authorized Mrs. Lindley to see to it that her husband hired the necessary labor. Friends sent cash to spend 'for the comfort of the family'; and Mary and a friend enjoyed the spending of it though, as Sarah said, 'Papa groaned over their waste of money'.
Times have changed, and circumstances are not always exactly replicated, yet often history repeats itself. While our home at Inanda did not burn down while we were away, Global Ministries and Inanda Seminary ensured that while itinerating in the USA our home at Inanda received some necessary maintenance and improvements. Most likely, too much time and treasure were sacrificed for the upkeep of our home; we scarcely recognized it as we walked through the door! In addition, close friends added many items so that our home appears scandalously fashionable. Something like décor can actually be found within its walls. What was ten years ago the meanest of abodes whose accouterments were strictly utilitarian, now is fit for an exposé in "Top Billing". I can see it now: "Chic Mission Estate: The Valiquette Home". Our home was 'primped' with new paint, pillows, vases, tasteful art and new pieces of furniture, towel racks, cupboards, and bedspreads.
What brought tears to one's eyes was not so much the beauty of the new home, but rather the care and toil that went into saying, "You are loved, you were missed and we want this place to continue to be your home." Global Ministries, Inanda Seminary, and our South African friends together invested in our family's ministry here.
After the Lindley family returned to Inanda in 1863 they reported, "From both White and Black we have received many kind words of welcome." After a large community meal including thirty chickens, sweet potatoes, and eggs, they talked and gave thanks earnestly that God had heard their cries and returned them. "All were warmed up".
Times may have changed, but many things are timeless. God. The love of God. The joy that comes from being amongst a fellowship of believers. The gift of hospitality. The cost of extravagant welcome. The peace of belonging. The fulfillment that comes from the African spirit of ubuntu – "I am because you are." The comfort of a home where love pervades. So it was then. So it is today. Thankfully, none of these things have changed.
Rev. Scott Couper and Rev. Susan Valiquette
Scott Couper serves with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA). He assists the Inanda Seminary in strategic planning and serves as a management consultant. Susan serves with Inanda Seminary, Durban, South Africa as the chaplain and an instructor.