Kelly, third to the right, at our Alpha Holy Spirit Day

“I thought I would never see you again!” were the words of the girl who came rushing across the parish hall to greet Wayne and me. She asked if we remembered her, and we did. She was one of the students who took our first Alpha course at Heathfield High that we led a couple of years ago. Her name was Kelly.

The three of us were visiting a local church for a youth service, and it was so great to run into Kelly again. Our young friend told us that she switched schools last year and was now attending a school that emphasised sports and athletics. She was a volleyball player. Kelly described to us how the Alpha course had touched her life and how she was inspired to lead a course at her new school. Her news pleased but astounded us. We had no idea.

Sometimes being a missionary is hard. I’m a product of my home culture, and we put a lot of emphasis on measurable outcomes. But in a ministry setting, it is often difficult to see measurable outcomes of one’s work. The bulk of our work in South Africa focuses on teaching and training, especially in the area of discipleship. We work on the provincial level and in local churches; sometimes we work in local schools. Some of the people we serve and train we never see again. How do we know that our work has been “successful,” for a lack of a better word? We don’t and that can be challenging.

So it is very encouraging when we meet a Kelly, who shares with us about how God has been working in her life and how she is now ministering to her peers. We can only pray and hope that there are many more Kelly’s out there that God has given us the privilege to serve who are now leading transformed lives and who are helping others to grow in their faith as well.


Expectations of Hope

Recently, I got to experience two celebrations with two groups of special young people—the opening of the school hall at Heathfield High and confirmation at my Cape Town parish church, All Saints Plumstead.

It was such a privilege and a joy to be at the school hall opening because I feel such a connection to that school, due to my IMG_0670relationship with the learners and teachers because of the Alpha course we ran last year and are currently running now. Plus, I have friends and family members who attended this school. At the ceremony, I got to sit with the teachers, which was a real treat; and I kept thinking of my dad, who taught school for 36 years. I truly believe for many children, after their parents and grandparents, teachers play the most important role in their lives. That was certainly the case in my life.

All Saints Confirmation 2015On Sunday, we had eight young people to get confirmed at my church. I know these young people quite well because my husband served as their youth leader for several years. It was truly special to witness them take this commitment, this important step in their faith formation. I know this commitment meant something to them, that they will strive to serve the Lord with all their heart; and that truly makes me happy.

When I think about the young people who were just confirmed and about the youth who are taking the Alpha course at Heathfield High, I get excited. In the States and in South Africa (and probably in every country in the world), many adults like to complain about young people. But when I look at the youth in both my countries, I see hope. Young people rise to the level of expectations, and we adults often have low expectations of them, which is a dis-service to them. We can do better than that. Let’s have great expectations for our youth; they deserve nothing less.

Back to School

Got questions? Search for answers--our marketing campaign at the school. We posted red question marks throughout the school.
“Got questions? Search for answers”–our marketing campaign at the school. We posted red question marks throughout the school.

Tomorrow, I will begin working at a local high school for the next six weeks. I have been coordinating a Youth Alpha course for the students, and the course kicks off tomorrow afternoon.

The high school isn’t far from where I live. It’s located in what we Americans would call a “working class” neighbourhood, but most of the students come from the townships. Many come from extremely disadvantaged communities, riddled by gang violence, substance abuse, and impoverished conditions. The school has 900 students, 25 teachers, one principal, and a handful of support staff. In an American city, I think such a school wouldn’t exist because of the lack of staffing.

Yet, despite the school’s being under-resourced, you don’t get the feeling of hopelessness20140326_085330 you often sense when you visit an American inner-city school. You don’t have to go through airport-like security to enter the school, graffiti isn’t on the walls, and the students are very respectful. You can tell that the teachers truly care about their students and are trying their best to provide them with quality education. I feel so uplifted every time I visit the school. Attending some classes—English, Afrikaans, and maths— at the high school, in order to get a better feel for the school, has been one of the highlights of my year.

Months ago, the principal of the high school approached Growing the Church with a request for help. In his words, he felt like the school was meeting the academic needs of the students but not their spiritual needs. (Wow—can you imagine this happening in an American school?) At the end of last year, I started to put together a team from local churches, and we decided the best place to start was with the Youth Alpha course.

20140326_084225Please pray for us. Please pray for the students, the facilitators, and the caterer for the course. We are stepping out on faith, as we only have a little funding for the course; but we know that the Lord will provide. Please pray that hearts will be opened to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

I’m excited about this opportunity to serve the students at the school. I know that many lives are going to be changed, including my own.