17 February 2013


My dear friend Hannah, a Journeyman who works at BIMS, ministers a great deal to kids in a nearby township called Alex. Alex is a dark place. Unemployment, HIV and tuberculosis, poverty, and rape run rampant. Hannah has news every week of some fresh nightmare that took place in the township. A six year old was raped by her uncle. Two children were locked and abandoned in their house for days. A child was covered in boiling water as a form of punishment. A pair of young sisters witnessed their pregnant mother trying to commit suicide. Could a place be more hellish?

Hearing these stories and encountering the very victims week after week induces such a strange emotional storm. Rage, incredibly deep sadness, desperation, hopelessness, confusion, pity. Where and how do you embark on conquering an Everest-sized problem like Alex? In my weak and fallen human condition, my initial reaction is to retreat into blissful ignorance. Pretend these people and problems don't exist so that I am not responsible for them.

My teammates and I have been working in Alex at an non-profit that feeds and nurtures orphans  and vulnerable children. The founder of the non-profit is an amazing woman who, after nearly dying of HIV-related complications, vowed to God to use her second chance at life to make a difference in her hometown of Alex. I've been helping her apply for grants, and while we were working last week she expressed a stunning thought. She told me the story of Jesus turning water into wine in John 2. This was the Christ's first miracle -- a monumental occasion. But the Scripture says only the servants were there to witness the event. Not the bridegroom or the master or the guests. Only the servants, who at Jesus' request filled the waterpots, knew how the miracle happened and by whom it was performed. My friend told me that in this life the ones who see the Lord's miracles are the ones who obey His request to serve. Many will benefit from His miracles, but don't you want to witness them as well?

The township of Alex is in need of a miracle. Of a million miracles. I've decided that I want to see them happen. So instead of slinking into ignorance and mental comfort, I'm committing to serve where I can. Our service may not be epic, but we will fill the waterpots nonetheless. What a privilege to be enlisted in God Almighty's restorative work in a place that could appear beyond redemption.  I cannot wait to see Alex's oceans of toxic water one day transfigure into fragrant rivers of blood-red wine. 

He has done it before. 

16 February 2013


This week's episode of my life featured a very special guest star: JAY WOLF! My sweet dad was in Kenya and Madagascar for IMB-related adventures, and we all decided it would be a crime if he came to Africa without swinging by Jo'burg. We only had about twenty-four hours together, but (in true Jay Wolf fashion) we wrung them dry. Best Valentine's Day of all time, hands down. There is nothing better for the heart than a dose of dad. He is a world class encourager, motivator, and listener. I am thanking the Lord for this blessing in a major way!

13 February 2013


Happy Valentine's Day (or Galentine's Day, if you happen to be Leslie Knope)! Could there be anything more brilliant than a day dedicated to the celebration of love, in all it's many forms? I deeply believe that all love is a metaphor. Whether romantic, brotherly, familial, or otherwise, earthly love is our finite, God-given glimpse of Christ's immeasurable and eternal love for us. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16).  Now that is something to celebrate everyday of the year. Sending you lots of love from the Southern Hemisphere! xoxo

05 February 2013


South Africa has treated me well this week! We had the pleasure of hanging out with some superstar kids at Lambano, a hospice center for orphans and vulnerable children in Jo'burg. Despite being significantly ill, these children were as sweet and happy as could be. We worked at a soup kitchen (more accurately, a sandwich kitchen) where stories from the Bible are told before the meal. Although there are other feeding programs available in the area, the needy men choose to come to this particular kitchen to hear the stories. On Saturday we attended a Turkish cooking class and lunch where we met new friends and ate good food, which was lovely. We then visited the Nizamiye Turkish Mosque, the Southern Hemisphere's largest mosque. We had the pleasure of meeting four young Muslim women and speaking with them for a very long while. They were incredibly kind, and I pray we are able to build a relationship with them over the coming months. On Sunday we had a wonderful time of worship at a predominantly Indian South African church called Northmead Baptist. Needless to say, the adventures and blessings continue to pile up!

Excuse the random collection of photos, but something's better than nothing! Here are a few shots from Lambano and the mosque, courtesy of Hayley


03 February 2013


Asking yourself "Why?" before taking any big step is usually a good idea. Motivation often weighs as much as action, so uncovering and purifying the impetus of an endeavor is paramount. Why am I going to this college? Dating that person? Praying these prayers? Living in South Africa?

By God's grace, I deeply hope we can identify Christ as the driving force of every decision, major or minor. So when asking ourselves why we do missions, do we find the Lord at the center of our intentions? I answered yes… and no.

Raised in a beautifully missions-focused home and church, I am deeply convinced that Christ-followers have been charged with communicating the Gospel to a dying, hell-bound world. God doesn't need us, but has chosen to use us as Good News messengers. He doesn't ask us to make disciples of all nations, He tells us to. But is our mission solely to rescue guilty people from a deserved eternal damnation? Are humans our  motivating force for mission work?

The truth is that they shouldn't be.

The eternal fate of other people is incredibly, monumentally important; I can't express how fully I believe that. However, when it comes to missions, salvation of people is outranked only  by the glory of God. Glorifying God is our absolute answer to the Why of missions… and the Why of everything else, for that matter. (Eating or drinking or whatever you do, do it ALL for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31)

God designed humankind to enjoy His perfection, to worship and glorify the One who is worthy of all praise. Sin created a massive chasm between a holy God and fallen man. As Romans 3:23 declares, ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Paul cries out that the sin and separation of even one person rob God of the glory He is due.  The deepest problem is not really that man's eternity is at stake. The deepest problem is that God's glory is at stake. Our salvation, at its core, is not for us. It is for the eternal, deserved glory of Almighty God.

Scripture repeatedly proclaims that people of all tribes, tongues, and nations will one day stand before the throne of God, an idea that culminates in Revelation 7. The Lord will not be robbed of an ounce of His due glory. It is therefore incumbent upon us to deliver the Message that has the power to reconcile man with God and to return man to his rightful purpose of glorifying God, Creator and Lover of our wretched souls.

G.K. Chesterson wrote: "We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty." I agree wholeheartedly with Chesterson because I have received a salvation of which I am completely unworthy, and I feel an enormous responsibility to relay the Gospel to my fellow drowning shipmates. But I must continue to place the glorification of the Savior, rather than the fate of the saved, as the answer to my WHY.  Because when God is glorified, the salvation of man is a beautiful and guaranteed consequence. And that is Good News.