Kelly

 

Kelly
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.

Anglicans Ablaze 2016

A month ago, the International Anglicans Ablaze Conference was in full swing. It’s hard to believe that this big conference, for which we have been planning for so long, is now over.

The conference is the largest gathering of Anglicans in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. We had 1500 delegates who came from inside and outside the Province. They came from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, the U.S. and several other countries. Wayne and I, with invaluable help from a great team of youth leaders, oversaw the youth track of the conference. We had 350 young people in attendance, and there was standing room only in the youth venue. The young people’s response to the conference was amazing; we kept hearing young people say that this conference really dealt with relevant issues, things they face now. For example, we had topics on sex, gangsterism and drugs besides the traditional topics of prayer, discipleship and leadership. A lot of our youth live in drug-infested environments and gang-riddled areas. The couple who talked about sex gave the best talk on sex that I have ever heard and really created a safe environment for the young people to ask difficult questions. I think God really healed a lot of brokenness during that time, as many young people felt comfortable talking about some of their painful experiences and came up for special prayer.

The Anglican Communion News Service made a couple of videos about the conference that we would like to share with you. We hope you will enjoy them.

 

Balancing Act

Trying to balance ministry, family, me-time, God-time and friend-time is hard. I more or less always feel the tension. Recently, I have felt it a lot and have not responded well.

When I get overwhelmed, stressed, or way out of balance, I get cranky and irritable. My to-do list grows, as I try to control what I can. When I don’t tick off everything on my to-do list, which I rarely do, I feel like I failed. This leads to feelings of guilt that, in turn, leads to more moodiness. It becomes a vicious cycle, and those close to me almost have to be saints to put up with me.

I feel as though I am disappointing a lot of people these days. I am so busy that I have little time to spend with my family and friends on this side and to talk with my family and friends on that side. Last Thursday, I had a stress headache, which is a huge warning sign that I need to slow down and take a break. So instead of going to the gym after work, I came home and watched a musical. I enjoyed it—yet I felt guilty about indulging in a luxury, watching a movie during a weekday. I had supper to cook, lunches to make, clothes to wash—why on earth was I watching a movie?

Guilt

Guys & Dolls, one of my favourite musicals, happens to be about a missionary
Guys & Dolls, one of my favourite musicals, happens to be about a missionary

I think I am in need of a holiday, a real vacation in which Wayne and I can go away for a while and just relax. In the meantime, I am relieving my stress through musicals, which have become a sort of a mental escape for me. I can totally switch off and sing to my heart’s delight.

I admit: I am an over-achiever, a product of my American-driven culture. Being a missionary has not cured that part of my personality. On the contrary, I have carried that part of me into my ministry, which is not necessarily a good thing. When I don’t see the results that I want to see or expect to see, I feel like I am failing. But who puts that pressure on me? It’s me. I am my own worst enemy.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

In times like these, I try to keep in mind two of my favourite quotations:

God calls us to be faithful, not to be successful.”
–Mother Teresa

Man is born to live, not to prepare for life.”
–Boris Pasternak

I pray, asking God to help me live in the moment and for wisdom on how to put my life back in balance. And I dream about what sort of musical my life would be if I could portray it in song and dance.

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.