Featured

Welcome to Our Blog

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

— Mark 8:36

We aren’t very good about updating our blog, but have resolved to try to do better! To subscribe to our newsletter or receive our prayer updates, you can click the button above. Below are blogs reaching all the way back through our years in Mozambique. Enjoy!

Shine

For the last few months we have been concerned and praying for you all as you weather the effects and trauma of Covid-19, but now our hearts weep for the situation in America. To watch the anger, pain and injustice is simply horrible. Please know as we deal with our own crisis, yours are not far from our minds and hearts. For both we cry out to our Father for peace, wisdom and justice and mercy to rule.

Here in Namibia we are well. Strange times and still no one knows what will happen in the coming months or even years. There is a general feeling that ‘Africa has been spared’ which we are not sure of, but we can report herein Namibia the government has been proactive and wise. Unfortunately the case numbers of our neighbor, South Africa, are rising rapidly. Namibia’s airport was scheduled to open in July, with flights resuming, but if cases come across the border then things may stay shut.

We as a family are well. We were able to drive 4 hours south to a place called Sesriem where we camped in the quiet desert, watched the stars and climbed some massive dunes. It was 2 nights of beautiful quiet. Things are mostly open in this country, with use of masks and distancing.

We have sailed on this sea of uncertainty and fear over the last few months and as we have been able to return to some of our traditional roles and responsibilities I have been pleading with God to give me new wisdom and direction for our ministry here in Namibia (and Angola…AfriGO…possibly Botswana…). And over the last few days He has been very clear to me that I (we) must shine. Whatever light we can muster from our weak and possibly damaged faith, we need to let it out, speak to others, write, give, act and be all that Jesus is. This was such a relief to me as I have found myself emotionally drained, at times worried and so consumed by the troubles and challenges both near and far, I have been empty. And God knows….so He has relieved me and told me to shine—and relax. Trust. Obey. Rest in the overwhelming fact He is still God. – Kevin

Crisis Mode – Again

The first two weeks of March, we were all distracted and distressed.  But then I found myself relaxed, busy with daily tasks and checking in on our people, able to focus on things that needed doing and sleeping well at night.  What happened?

It struck me a week or so ago, and I had to laugh out loud.  I’d slipped into “Mozambique Missionary Mode”.  You see, we frequently had “crises” during our years there.  A child would have malaria (or logistically worse, a parent).   Rebels would be operating somewhere near our town, or gangs would roam the streets at night with machetes.  Sometimes we’d hear gunshots.  Once, electricity went out in the whole north (more than 10 million people) for 6 weeks.  An underground cable would break and banks would be offline for a week.    Or, I’d have a personal health crisis, which happened more than I’d like to remember – a torn ACL, two sicknesses at once, crushing back pain, just to name a few.

Anyway, during each event we’d go into our crisis mode, checking in with each other and colleagues frequently.  We’d make sure the pantry was equipped.  We’d check the cars had gas.  We’d talk about what we’d do “If” something or other happened.  We got really good at it.  In fact, when we were in counseling in the USA in 2018, two different of our counselors told us that we were excellent at problem solving, but pretty terrible at dealing with the emotions left over from trauma.  We couldn’t argue – it was how we survived a lot of tough situations.

I found myself back there again recently.  Kevin and I began to problem solve, and we felt confident that we were ready to address this latest crisis.  Watching people in first world countries deal with this crisis has been hard – many of them have no experience with “public upheaval” like this, and yet many nations around the world have dealt with that in the past or deal with that in their present.  Many from my generation have never had their control taken from them in such a big way. 

But feeling sanctimonious about it is not the right way.  While I can be grateful for the ability to compartmentalize and keep working in the midst of it, God calls us to humbly enter into the lives of those around us. The fear, the criticisms, the false information and accusations swirling around, those losing their livelihoods and those who are actually dying from this.  Watching all of it and getting ready.  Doing what we can, and praying for wisdom.  God help us all.

Uncertainty

For some of us (I won’t say who), not knowing what is coming is the worst thing EVER. It leaves us paralyzed, tentative, and fear threatens to creep in. Kevin and I have already experienced a fair amount of uncertainty in our lives, sometimes while waiting for decisions which will change the course of our lives.
This one – Covid 19 – seems different, because things are already changing but we don’t know HOW BAD it will get. When it started, we had international visitors here and we were uncertain how it would go for them to get home. Meanwhile, Toby was in limbo and we were uncertain if he would make it home. I only realized how upsetting that was after he arrived, when my brain just shut off as a way to cope with what it had been suppressing. The kids have been video gaming like crazy and I know it is not good, but have been unable to gird myself up to make them stop and do something else.
I finally realized that I am having trouble because of uncertainty. There is a knowledge deep inside me that it could get very, very bad on this beautiful continent – and yet a hope that somehow it will pass us by. I am not worried for our family – in all likelihood we would not get very sick. But if this hits the poor areas, where people are crowded and there is no running water . . . the fallout could be terrible. I watch the news and count the numbers and worry.
It has also been difficult to deal with the Christians and their assurances – this has been an issue I’ve dealt with here before. Some here believe so strongly in the power of their words to prevent and cure illness, and whenever a sickness is mentioned, the response is “You are healed in Jesus name” and that’s the end of it. Most times, the person does get eventually better, but those with chronic conditions usually don’t talk about them because they are not yet healed. Once, healing was proclaimed on a sick cousin, and 30 minutes later the announcement came that the cousin was dead. I wondered what would happen next, but the response was just that it was God’s will.
For me, these proclamations are so deeply offensive to the Scriptures and to my theological understanding, but I’m learning that in some cultures here, nobody has any problem with the lack of logical progression. You can be all in for believing for the healing, and all in for not being bothered when it doesn’t happen. Through the first days of Covid-19, the proclamations were coming thick and fast (and are still trickling along) and it caused me a great deal of inner turmoil. But I have concluded that it is better to be silent and let God speak instead. If he wants me to say something, he’ll have to tell me.
So, how does one cope with the uncertainty? That’s a lesson I am trying to learn. Without a doubt, talking to our Father about it is number one. It’s easy to avoid that, but it is essential. Talking to “your people” who are in it with you is another good idea. Maybe not watching so much news also. But I think for me, repeatedly taking a deep breath and choosing to trust God as we walk forward. He knows what is coming. He knows what will happen, and how and when. What am I choosing to be faithful with each day as the time unfolds? What do I need to grab hold of and steward well? How can I be present in each of these moments with my husband, children, and friends? How can I reach out to those around me? All good questions. I picture God’s love wrapped around me like a blanket given to people in danger of going into shock. He shelters me under his wings and if I look up into his face I will relax and trust. – C

At a loss..

Often when I know it is way past time to update our blog, I just feel totally bewildered as to what to write about. When we lived in Mozambique, there was always something interesting going on, like the dog killing a spitting cobra, or someone down with malaria, or rebels on the main road shooting at our car (which we were not driving). Here in Namibia, life trundles along in a more or less predictable manner, albeit with its own challenges. Here, too, everyone we know is very tech-savvy, and we have to be more careful about what we write online. Taking photos is awkward, and much of our work involves the not-so-inspiring hours spent in front of a computer. In particular since I started working for the magazine, I have few stories to share!

Our life here is certainly different than it would be in the USA, but to us it seems totally normal these days. Last month, my sister and her kids visited, and it was fun to see our world through their eyes for a little while. We forget that granite rocks sprinkled all over the earth isn’t normal, or rocks that shine like gold aren’t typical. Our intense, baking sun is a real challenge for pale skin (whew did we get bad sunburns!) and our house windows and doors are covered with iron bars and the alarm must be set each time we go out. These are the surface differences.

At a deeper level are the political and cultural beliefs of the people all around us here. Those are much more tricky to navigate than the practical day-to-day, and sometimes it is exhausting. We continue to struggle to bring in volunteers, under a government that still believes we must be profiting financially somehow, or that we should simply hire locals (with what funds?). We continue to feel like outsiders at our church, where we are rarely greeted and never invited over. I could go on – well, I really can’t. We must be careful not to offend, as we are visitors here, and grateful to be allowed to serve. There are many here who are dear to us, and do welcome us into their hearts, and for that we are also grateful.

I suppose each blog post should have a point, but these types of musing usually just end with a “Yup, we’re here. We’re glad. Sometimes it’s hard.” – C

Where’ve ya been?

As many of you know…we have served in Africa for a while now…and honestly it has left marks on us, many dear and precious but not all good, there are scars and wounds. So, for two months we took the time to look at these things. We delved deep into our issues, hangups and fears…and eventually got to our dreams and wishes.

The picture below is from a place we were able to visit.  

This scene struck me. In this valley carved by glaciers long ago there were these boulders. Huge, seemingly unmovable granite stone, some 15 feet or more tall. They are called ‘erratics’ by geologists… and it struck me that they were exactly what we had been looking at and dealing with. Large, seemingly unmovable obstacles in the field of our lives. Much of life we try to avoid these ‘things’, we say we are too busy, doing too many good things…or not. Or maybe they are just too scary and intimidating to approach.

But let me tell you of another view…from the hill to the right they didn’t look so large, as i lay by myself on top of that hill, soaked up the sun and prayed, they seemed, well, significant but not impassable. They didn’t look that big.

I don’t know what you face this year. I don’t know what your life looks like, i don’t know what ‘erratics’ you may have been avoiding or trying to deny were even there, but i know one thing, from His perspective they aren’t unmovable. Let’s be clear, it may be painful, it may take some time to pray, talk to a brother or sister, to forgive, to accept forgiveness…to let go of shame…to accept love.

And that is where i want to leave you. Loved. Even with all our ‘erratics’, our hangups and failures, even with our sin and shame WE ARE LOVED. God, the almighty, amazing

So much so God freely gave His own Son, literally part of Himself to set us free.

Welcome to the family of the saved….the free….Halelujah!

May this be a wonderful, free, joyful year for you.

K

The Paralytic

Recently a colleague spoke from the story of the Paralytic in Luke 5. Most sermons I have ever heard focus on the healing but this time I heard something different. In the story we see a huge crowd, religious leaders and people from all the surrounding towns and villages have come to hear Christ. They crowded into a house until there was no room. We can imagine people gawking through windows, children in trees trying to peer in and see this Jesus. A scene of anticipation and excitement, “Jesus is here!”.

Into this scene, in the periphery we see a group of friends come down the road, carrying something between them. They are moving with purpose, single-mindedness. They come to the house and see there is no way for them to enter. Their hopes momentarily dashed. And then one says, “Wait! I have an idea!” and we see them push and mutter, “excuse me, pardon me…” until they are on the stairs to the roof. Those around them just scoff and snicker, “crazy guys, the view is no good up there”. Reaching the top, they knelt down, gently setting their friend down on the hot plaster roof, they began to scratch with their finger nails, with sticks and rocks until they all saw what the idea was and with an upsurge in excitement and expectation they all dug, carving and ripping at the roof. Dirt flying, plaster and sticks that once separated them now lay by the side and they pier down the hole–a hole just big enough to lower their hurting friend to Jesus. Anxiously waiting for the disciples to run up the stairs and chase them away they hurriedly tied ropes and lowered their dear friend down at the feet of Jesus.

We have always pictured and imaged the one on the stretcher, as he looks in to the eyes of Jesus and instead of Jesus saying ‘get up and be healed’ he says, “Man, your sins are forgiven”. We can picture the tears rolling down his face. Can we also picture the friends, exhausted, laying on their backs on the roof, hearing those words, crying in joy to know their friend is forgiven. Knowing what was most important was done. Jesus had forgiven the man they loved.

But we know the scene doesn’t end there. When the Pharisees and Sadducees heard this they cried out in dismay, “Who is this who speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” And Jesus, hearing their HEARTS confronts them…openly. And i can imagine the friends on the roof heard this and smiles and joy broke over their faces. But then Jesus turns back to the man on the mat and says, “…rise, pick up your mat and rise”. And he DID! He got up and went home praising God.

I can imagine the friends on the roof racing down, embracing the man, singing, crying, leaping, knowing Jesus had done so much more than just heal the man.

But what strikes me is the faith of the friends and some of the things the friends displayed.

  1. They didn’t judge their friend. Many in that time would have blamed the man’s problem on sin or being cursed. These friends didn’t. They just knew he needed to see Jesus.
  2. The friends were tenacious, creative and dedicated to bringing the man to Jesus, no matter what obstacle or challenge, they HAD TO get their friend to Jesus.
  3. Their faith. IN verse 20 it says, ‘when he saw their faith…’ not the faith of the sick man. Can we see Jesus bending and looking up through the broken roof and seeing the faces of the friends and knowing the faith that brought the man before him? (I can)

And all this leaves me with a few questions… am I really bringing people to Jesus without judgement? Am I using creativity and being tenacious in leading them to His feet? Do i judge those I claim to serve?

Father, forgive me for when i have given up. Forgive me for when i judged others, even as i tried to bring them to Christ. Forgive me for not being creative or open to new or different ways of ministry to the hurting lost…and paralyzed.

May I be like the friends in the story.

And may we all be found at His feet getting exactly what we need…

Amen

-Kevin

Multicultural Namibia

I was at the mall the other day and within the course of 15 minutes heard at least 6 different languages spoken.  After being in Mozambique where there was one dominant language and culture in our part of the country, it continually astonishes how diverse Namibia is.  There is a large white population here in the capital city, and at my weekly exercise class the white instructor switches easily from English to German to Afrikaans to accommodate her clients.  There are the Nama people of the south as well as the Basters, further north the Damara, the Ovambo, the Herero, the San Bushmen, a whole group called Colored with their own unique culture, and then across the Caprivi strip there are numerous people groups.  There are also many Angolans, both residents and visitors, and it is not uncommon for me to hear people speaking Portuguese around town.

All of that can lead to tensions between the groups, especially with the tumultuous history of a country that has only been independent for 26 years.  There are stereotypes and misconceptions among the groups, but our president frequently encourages the citizens to all make peace together in this “Namibian House”.

As newcomers and as Americans, we are thankful that people are friendly and welcoming.  It is easy to chat with people on the street, and most everyone is able to converse with us in English.  We try to remember our Afrikaans lessons from years ago but are far from fluent!   I don’t think we will ever understand a lot about each one of the cultures represented in this beautiful country, but we are trying to be open to learn – C

Life in Namibia

Here we are – we are finally beginning to realize what it all means, now that we have been here several months  and are settling into a routine.  It is wonderful in so many ways, but also comes with responsibilities that are new to us.

We appreciate your prayers as we evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.  Kevin has  had many, many meetings with folks here as we look at the work being done in this country (by locals and expats) and the work that ought to be done.

Organizing the office and going through old files is an ongoing job, updating technology and procedures, contacting our members and supporting them, and interfacing with the government are also all on the agenda.  The wall has a big map on it where Kevin has been marking the various ministry locations of folks we’ve talked to.  We hear rumors (and true stories) about the difficulties in obtaining work permits.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow of our daily lives.  Much of this is familiar, from our time living here, our time in South Africa, and some carry-over from Mozambique.  Much is surprisingly new!   We don’t know what the next months hold for us, though we can guess some of it.  But meanwhile it is a joy to unpack, settle in, pray for wisdom from our own kitchen table, and make new friends.  -C

 

Christmas Kitten

When we first told Ben we were moving to Namibia, he was so upset that I promised him a kitten.  Yes, one of those guilt-ridden promises that you wish you could undo.  However, Ben talked of it often so there was no way we could re-neg.  Once we arrived in Namibia, I warned him that we would have to wait awhile since we were traveling so much.  The new puppy we got in October was enough cuteness for awhile, although since she is a Great Dane she wasn’t cute for long.  We had decided we wanted a Siamese cat, since they are social and easy to train; however, I couldn’t find a breeder anywhere in Namibia (surprising since there are quite a few wealthy people in the capitol).  I looked into import from South Africa, but the cost was too high.

So, we kept rolling the idea around and finally, on Christmas Eve, a Saturday, decided we would just get him “any old kitten” and looked on the SPCA facebook page.  The SPCA is a wonderfully run organization here, in complete contrast to Mozambique where such a thing doesn’t exist at all.   We’d been looking at the site regularly, but they never had any kittens listed.  Anyway, that morning, there was a siamese male kitten on the site.  We looked at each other, wide-eyed.  Kevin and Toby leapt into the truck and raced over there and he was still there!  They brought him home and we hid him in our bedroom overnight.  We wrapped up the cardboard cat carrier and brought the kitten out as Ben’s last gift, holding our breath in anticipation of his joy.  And we were not disappointed.

We have told Ben frequently that Percy (as he is now called) is tangible evidence of God’s love for him.  He is a miracle Christmas kittie.  Perhaps a silly little story for this blog, but much happiness for one little boy who has said a lot of goodbyes this year.  – C