Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prayer Letter, blog edition...

I’m going back to South Africa! Last year, my apprenticeship with NieuCommunities was an amazing journey of discovering how God has uniquely gifted me and exploring my calling and future ministry. Since returning home, I have taken time to discern what might be next, and God has reaffirmed that NieuCommunities South Africa is what he would have me pursue for the next season of my life. I’ve been invited to join NCSA staff, and there are still details to be settled, but I’m moving forward in faith!

NieuCommunities is part of Church Resource Ministries, which develops leaders to strengthen the church worldwide, in fulfillment of their mission: “To make God’s name renowned among the nations.” NieuCommunities develops young leaders through a ten-month program, inviting apprentices to come alongside staff to learn and do life & mission together.

Last year, in my learning with NC and the ministries I pursued, God began to call my attention to two threads that had been woven into my life for some time. The first thread—my gifting in shepherding—emerged as I saw how God has enabled me to disciple others in friendships, small groups, and ministry relationships. As I built friendships with the women in “Granny’s family,” I began to better identify this gift in myself and see my heart for helping others grow closer to God. The second thread—my interest in the arts—emerged from a writing project with fellow apprentice Sarah, telling the stories of women we befriended in Soshanguve and downtown Pretoria. It was this that helped me respond to God’s call to integrate my interests and passions with my ministry.

Understanding that God can—and desires to—use my gifts, abilities, and my interests resonated in my heart. Toward the end of the year, I wrote a vision statement that has come to encapsulate the dreams God has given me for my future life and ministry. I feel God calling me to grow in shepherding, and to pursue a new vision in ministry: of drawing people into a deeper relationship with Him through their experience of the arts. As I explored this calling—what it might look like, and where I could best live it out—God drew me back to NieuCommunities, and my heart to South Africa. In April, I will return to Pretoria for at least two years: growing in mentoring apprentices, and pursuing a new ministry vision of arts-based discussion groups designed to connect people with God through fiction & film.

I am planning to return to South Africa on April 15—just two months from now! I hope to reach 100% of my support goal by March 31 (my birthday!). This goal breaks down into two categories:
• $2000 for transitional expenses (visa expenses, airfare, getting settled in Pretoria)
• $2200 monthly to cover my living and ministry expenses

May I encourage you to begin praying about your level of involvement? I am praying God will provide 12 people to give $100 per month, 10 to give $50 per month, 14 to give $25 per month, and 15 to give $10 per month. If you would like to contribute, please visit this link and search for me by last name.

Thank you for being part of my journey to seek God’s calling on my life and follow His leading into cross-cultural ministry. It is a blessing to have your faithful support, both financially and in prayer. I would love to talk more with you soon about your part in supporting me on this new journey!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Exciting news

If you just want the exciting news up front, here it is: I'm going back to South Africa!! If you want the details, you can read on. =)

The past few months since I've been back from South Africa have been quite a journey. They have also been full of journeys--to places as near as Visalia, California and as far as Glasgow, Scotland. I've been reuniting with friends new and old, as well as seeking out ministry opportunities and taking time to discern what might be next for me.

At the end of December, I traveled to Wales for my Welsh little sister's wedding! Jude and I became good friends during several summer mission trips to Wales, when her family was my host family. It was a beautiful wedding and though it was a busy and rushed reunion with her, her family, and dear friends at Gilgal Baptist Church, it was so good to be there. Following the wedding, I traveled with a friend to Oxford, Glasgow, and London--visiting various friends along the way. I connected with several people in London, exploring ministry opportunities there and taking time to discern if it might be the place God was leading me to. My time in London very much affirmed my own ministry vision, but it was also a time of seeing closed doors. There are a lot of exciting things that are building and growing there, but I know it's not the place for me right now.

In the month since I've been back from the UK, I've taken time to pray about and imagine what God might be leading me towards. I've come full circle back to NieuCommunities and feel like this is the place God is calling me for the next season of my life. As I explored a couple of options within NC, it became clear that my heart wants to be back in South Africa. The NCSA team and I have talked back and forth over email and over the phone, and both sides feel God's leading in this. So, I'm excited to report that as of Wednesday, January 30th, I have been invited to join the NieuCommunities staff in South Africa!! My role with them will continue to be clarified over the next few weeks and months, but I'm excited for the opportunity to be part of mentoring others through the apprenticeship program, exploring my own ministry vision in the broader community in Pretoria North, and continuing with my writing project (especially as my fellow writer Sarah is also returning to staff in SA).

The week following my invitation to join NCSA, I was able to just barely make it into New Staff Orientation with CRM (NieuCommunities' parent organization). So the past two weeks have been quite a whirlwind. I am now working through the administrative details with CRM (getting me all official), putting together a financial and prayer support team, and taking care of the many details that have to be settled in order to move to another continent and hemisphere! Things will continue to happen quickly, as I have been asked to aim for returning to Pretoria in mid-April.

I would like to keep you updated on my process as well as invite you to continue supporting me, both in prayer and financially. I will be sending support letters soon, and would love to include you on that list. Toward that end, I would greatly appreciate you sending me your addresses! Feel free to email me using the link in the sidebar. More to come soon. =)