Wednesday, April 22, 2009

T$ in Da House!

I'm not sure how I've neglected this post for so long, but I've been very blessed to have some friends join me out on the farm for the past month or so. My friend, mentor, and youth ministry prof. at Bethel, Terry "T$" Linhart, and his entire family have been living with us on the farm while Terry is on sabbatical. Terry has taught three lectures in his time here and has done an incredible job each time. A quick straw poll from the other trainees has revealed that he is definitely one of the favorite lecturers we've had this year. For the past few weeks, Terry has also led our devotions every Tuesday night, giving us wisdom and practical tips for our future ministries--a time that is now affectionately referred to as "Tuesdays with Terry." It's been great to have Terry here, and it has also been cool to see his wife, Kelly, really connect with some of the girls here. His three kids, Lauren, Jayson, and Sean have also really fit in well with everyone here and I'm sure have made several long-lasting friendships. You can read all about their adventures here in South Africa on their blog.

Terry is pretty pumped up to teach us about Eschatology!

Presidential Election Today!

Please be praying for South Africa, as today is the national election. As you might know, South Africa has had a history of corrupt politics. Just 15 years ago, South Africa had its first fair election, in which the Apartheid regime (white supremacy, more or less) was broken down and Nelson Mandela, the leader of the ANC Party was elected President. The ANC is still the dominant party, with some dozen or so other political parties vying for various positions in power and seats in the Parliament. While the ANC has done many great things in bringing freedom and equality to many people in South Africa, it seems that their rise to power has bred corruption within their party. Just a year ago, the leader of the ANC and President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, was removed from the presidency. The current leader of the ANC, Jacob Zuma, is presently on trial for major charges of corruption, although the trial continues to be postponed, and the ANC seems to be paying all the right people in an attempt to get the charges dropped. Zuma is expected to win the national election today in a landslide. Where else in the world would you find a President elected while concurrently facing major federal charges? Crazy...

You might be wondering, "Why in the world would people vote for this guy?" That's a great question...I'm glad you asked. 

First of all, Zuma represents the ANC Party, the same party that brought them their freedom only 15 years ago. Despite the corruption that has crept into the party, they are still riding the coattails of their victory in overthrowing the Apartheid regime. The masses are simply not ready to hand the power to anyone else, mostly out of fear, I would presume.

Second, Zuma is a charismatic leader. His seventh-grade education (this is no joke) would seem to suggest that he's not qualified to lead the country, but somehow he has captured the hearts of the people.

Third, Zuma is a Zulu. The Zulu people represent the largest ethnic group in this incredibly diverse country. In the township a few weeks ago, I asked a man who he was voting for. He responded in broken English, "I am Zulu. I vote ANC." Overwhelmingly, people here seem to vote more along ethnic lines than considering policies or even the moral conduct of a party or its leader.

After being here in SA for only a few months now, I don't presume to know everything there is to know about South African politics. Quite the contrary. However, it has become apparent that this election will be HUGE in terms of the future of South Africa, and as believers I think we need to be praying. Please take a few minutes today to pray for South Africa!

Monday, April 20, 2009

One of the funniest guys I know... my buddy, Bronson. We've gotten to know each other quite well over the past few months, as we've been in a small group together, competed in sports against each other daily, and done a lot of ministry together. The following is a brief conversation we had a couple days ago, which made me laugh harder than I've laughed in a long time...

Me: I think I might shave my beard pretty soon.
Bronson: Yeah, it's hard to tell how fat your face is behind all that beard!

Ha! And that is why I love this kid so much...

Bronson and I performing a drama together at a youth 
camp this past weekend.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I've seen more people driving BMWs in South Africa than I've ever seen before in my life...

I've seen more poverty in the past three months in South Africa than I've seen in the rest of my 24+ years of living combined...

Anyone see a problem here???...


It's been great to hear from so many of you recently! Just wanted to give you all a heads up that my church email with St. Mark ( accidentally got deleted recently. Therefore, if anyone has sent an email to that account anytime within the last couple weeks--basically since I sent out my last email update--I never got it! I know I had a handful of unread emails on that account before it got deleted. So anyway, if you think that might apply to you, please forward those emails onto And if you haven't emailed me recently to catch me up on your life, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?!?!?!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Few Random Facts...

  • I ran over 40 miles last week...marathon here I come!
  • My first 21 days in Africa were without a hot shower.
  • I recently read the Bible, the entire OT and NT, in 27's a good book! (More on this later).
  • I have not washed my hair in over a month...don't ask.
  • Poverty sucks.
  • I have not cut my hair or shaved since arriving in Africa.
  • It gets cold in Africa.
  • It also gets REALLY hot in Africa.
  • I got thrown off a horse three days ago.
  • I am convinced that there is no greater bond than that of the body of Christ.
I can't think of any more random facts, so I guess I'm done for now...

Latest Update

The following is my most recent email update that I sent out to my prayer partners. It sums up a lot of what I have been up to in recent weeks. If you'd like to be added to my email list, just let me know!


Hello Family and Friends!

Greetings from South Africa! By now, you might have begun to wonder if I was still alive, but have no fear, I AM ALIVE!!! Probably my biggest frustration since arriving in SA has been my inability to communicate well with everyone back home. Let’s just say that “high speed” and “internet” are not words that are commonly used in the same sentence around here! Still, I apologize for such a long gap since my last update. Hopefully this letter will bring you all up to speed on what I’ve been up to...


For those of you who may not have known, my first four months here have been devoted to ministry training. I am living on a farm with a group of about 40 other trainees, most of whom have very little ministry experience, who are being trained to plant disciple-making youth ministries alongside local churches in Africa. We have now entered our last month of training. I am going through the training along with the rest of the trainees, while at the same time I am striving to learn how I might train others in disciple-making ministry in the future. I have been very impressed with both the content of the training, as well as the methods used for learning. The training is very experiential. For example, we did a course on evangelism, and then we immediately went out into a local community to practice sharing our faith with others. The constant commitment to combine the practical with the theoretical has really proven to be invaluable as we go through the training.


Although for the most part we are stranded out in the middle of nowhere at the training center on Driefontein Farm, like I mentioned before we are often given opportunities to practice ministry. Just last week we left the farm in three different teams for a whole week of practical ministry. My team went to Duduza, a township about an hour away from the farm, where black people were relocated during the apartheid regime. We might more commonly refer to it as the “ghetto” or the “slums.” What we found there was an active, growing church with lots of potential. We stayed in host homes there, which was quite a rustic experience (ie. bucket baths!). We partnered with a youth pastor in the township, Jeff, who helped us plan ministry each day. Our team performed dramas and testimonies in several of the schools in the township. I was able to preach the gospel to an entire school assembly, some 1500+ students at a secular school. God definitely had his hand of blessing on our team the entire week. We also spent quite a bit of time with kids at a local community center/food kitchen, mostly doing sports ministry. We partnered with 10 other local youth ministries for an all-night youth event (7PM-7AM!!!). We had tons of fun that night, combined with some great discussions surrounding many topics in regard to our faith.

Much in the same way that we had been taught during our training, we spent an afternoon training Jeff’s youth leaders in evangelism, and then we went out with them to help them practice sharing their faith. I was paired with two young girls named Thuli and Bali, and it was exciting to see them come alive as they began to share their faith with others. That afternoon I was able to help lead two boys, Sifiso and Mko, to a personal relationship with Jesus and get them connected with Jeff and the local youth ministry there in Duduza. Praise God! It was incredible to join together in ministry with other believers from such a different cultural context. The bond that we had in Christ was clearly evident all week, and we left feeling as though we had a new family in Duduza. It was easily the most impactful week for me since arriving in South Africa nearly three months ago.

Even on the farm, I am consistently involved in ministry. I am weekly helping to lead a Zulu service, mostly for young children, where I often preach (with a translator) or lead the singing (my Zulu is improving daily!). I stick out like a sore thumb, being the only white person there most weeks, but I love it! I have also had the opportunity to preach to the farm workers, and I lead worship for the Sunday service with the trainees. Such a variety of different ministry opportunities and experiences is part of what has made this such a unique and impacting experience for me.


As I candidly shared with you before leaving for South Africa, my biggest fear in coming here was that I was coming alone. I asked you all to pray that I would build solid relationships here, and I have felt those prayers! This community that I live with is now my family. We have gone beyond the superficial and have shared life on a deep level. I meet daily with a small group of guys, Bronson from SA, Vusi from Zimbabwe, and Praise from Malawi, and we are constantly challenging each other. We are currently going through a harmony of the gospels together, and each day typically turns into a debate of some kind in which we sharpen each other. That group has been a blessing to me. I have also tried to take some of the younger guys under my wing. I have begun to mentor a young guy named Duane, a former drug dealer and self-proclaimed “gangster” whose life was radically transformed when he found Christ just a couple years ago. I am always encouraged by his desire to learn and grow, and somehow I find that when we get together and talk he mentors me right back with his young and pure faith. I could share so much more about all of the incredible relationships that God has blessed me with, but for now I’d just like to thank those of you who prayed specifically that I would have meaningful relationship here...God has answered that prayer!!!


Again, thanks to all of you who prayed against any homesickness that I might be attacked with. I have yet to find that to be a challenge! Probably the biggest challenge I face daily is being constantly confronted with so many needs around me and not knowing what to do. God is developing in me a heart for Africa, but at times the need here seems overwhelming. Two areas that God has especially placed on my heart are the poverty here and the lack of education and opportunities for young people to succeed. I have no idea what the next step in life after this year will be for me, and that is a challenge as well. However, my hunch is that my burden for Africa will draw me back here at some point in the not-so-distant future.

Prayer Requests
  • Please pray for the church in Duduza. More specifically, pray for Jeff as he works a full-time secular job, while also pouring his life into and discipling the youth of Duduza.
  • Please pray for Sifiso and Mko, the young boys who gave their lives to Christ last week. Pray that they would get plugged into the church there and that the gospel they heard and received would fall on “good soil.” Pray that they would grow in their newfound relationship with Jesus.
  • Please pray that I would continue to be challenged and growing in my own relationship with Jesus.
  • Please pray that our community on the farm would continue to grow together in unity.
  • Please pray for me as I consider where God is leading me for my future.
  • Please praise God for your prayers which have already been answered!!!
Thanks again for all your prayers, love, and support. I would not be here if it wasn’t for all of you! God Bless!

Serving in Africa,


P.S. I’d love to hear back from all of you to know what’s going on in your lives and how I might better pray for each of you! Feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email at Thanks!