My sister, Sarah, and her hubby, Nick, are doing some incredible disciple-making ministry down in Mexico (or I suppose up in Mexico from where I'm currently writing...weird.) Anyway, check out what they're up to here.
My brother, Dave, is really stinkin' smart. Don't believe me? Read his thoughts on philosophy, religion, church, and life here.
My sister, Emily, pretends to have a blog here. (Emily, if you're reading this, let this be motivation to get that thing started up!!!).
Hanging with the Durban North team and eating some AWESOME Indian curry. South Africa has the second largest Indian population in the world, outside of India itself, which adds to the already incredible diversity of the country.
One of many mosques in Durban, which boasts the largest mosque in the Southern hemisphere. Are you catching on to how insanely diverse this country is yet?!?!
Chris manning the grill as the teams got together for a braai (barbecue).
Hanging out with my good friend from Kenya, Wanjiru Gicheche. In Swahili her name literally means "dry cow dung." Ha! We call her "Shegz" for short.
Sportin' a nice new 'do.
The new soccer stadium going up in Durban for the 2010 World Cup, hosted by South Africa!!!
We sent two J-Life ministry teams and a youth worker down to Durban, a large coastal city on the Indian Ocean, where they are currently planting strategic disciple-making youth ministries alongside local churches. This past week I had the opportunity to make the 6-hour trip down to Durban to catch up with the teams and encourage them in their ministries. Part of that encouragement, of course, meant hanging out on Durban's beautiful beaches! And thanks to the subtropical climate off the Indian Ocean, the weather was incredible!
Building sand castles on the beach. Okay, so maybe we didn't actually build this one, but it's still pretty darn impressive!
Chris, Lance, and I keepin' it real out on the pier.
I also had the chance to go on my first African safari down in Pietermaritzburg with the Quarandillo family. I had never seen so many cool animals up close in the wild before. Not gonna lie...it was pretty awesome!
Over Easter break, I had the privilege of traveling down to Pietermaritzburg to visit my good friends, Josh and Jamie Quarandillo. Besides enjoying a week with the entire "Q" family, I was also able to witness firsthand one of the most remarkable ministries I have ever seen. Josh is the founder and executive director of Enable Now!, a ministry that I'm convinced has stumbled upon the future of missions. Let me explain.
Four years ago, Josh, Jamie, and crew (they have five kids!) moved into a township in Pietermaritzburg known as Ward 34. It was there that they began to acquaint themselves with the community, volunteering to teach Life Orientation classes in the local schools and getting to know the young people in the area. After cultivating many new relationships in Ward 34, Josh started an under-17 club soccer team. Over the course of the next two years, Josh coached these 22 kids in soccer, as well as in life. He taught them to be leaders in their community, and he and Jamie missionally lived their faith out in front of these young boys. With many of these kids living on the streets or growing up in broken or abusive homes, Josh and Jamie became like parents to these guys. In fact, they even took one of the boys into their own home, more or less adopting him as one of their own (you do the math--that's six kids!!!).
Over the course of those two years, around a dozen of these boys came to know Jesus in a personal and transformational way. You heard me right...these kids are coming to know Jesus left and right. How did it happen? Well, for starters, not through a church plant or a Bible study, and especially not through a fancy building being built. Now, I'm not against church plants, evangelism through Bible studies, or even bricks and mortar, but I do think that for too long missions has been defined by these things. There will always be a place for traditional church ministry (I think), but I'm also convinced that the future of the Church and of world missions is a bit more organic.
The boys in Ward 34 call themselves a "family." They meet together daily, eat together, serve the community together, pray for one another, and more recently even study God's Word together. Sounds a lot like a church to me. These boys, who two years ago may have never walked through the doors of a church building, now ARE the church. They are disciples of Jesus Christ. It doesn't stop there...
The ministry of Enable Now! is three-fold: transforming young people and communities in the areas of leadership, economic, and spiritual development. Simply put, it is a holistic approach to discipleship, identifying and meeting both the spiritual as well as the material needs of the people. The balance is, dare I say, Christ-like.
There's so much more I could say. I could tell you about the under-11 team that was recently formed this year, in which the under-17s are currently mentoring and discipling the younger boys. I could tell you about the business plan that these boys and Josh have come up with and are currently working towards, which could help bring many in this community out of hopeless poverty and sub-human living conditions. There's so much to say, but more than anything I ask that you consider ways to partner with this incredible ministry. Please pray for Josh and Jamie, as they tirelessly pour out their lives into the young people in Ward 34. And, if God leads you to help even more, consider partnering financially with the ministry of Enable Now!
Another week that I will never forget was spent partnering with a church in a local township called Duduza. The J-Life trainees were separated into three teams and sent off the farm to do practical ministry in three different townships--essentially slums where black people were forced to live during the Apartheid era in South Africa and still live today. Throughout the week, we teamed up with a youth worker named Jeff and his youth leaders, doing sports ministry, schools ministry, evangelism, and working at a children's center, among other things. We were also hosted by families in Duduza, which gave us an even greater understanding and appreciation for the people living in the township. More than anything, though, we became closely bonded with the church in Duduza, encouraging them in their never-ending ministry in an impoverished community, as they in turn challenged us and spurred us on to greater faith. We left feeling as though we were truly family with the church in Duduza.
When living on a farm out in the middle of Nowhere, Africa, entertainment can sometimes be hard to find. We're talking no TV, minimal internet...basically months without much contact with the outside world. That's enough to make anyone go a bit crazy. So what did we do to entertain ourselves? Cage matches...of the creepy crawly variety. That's right, we caught a tarantula, a praying mantis, a toad, some grasshoppers, and whatever other bugs and creepy crawlers we could find and put them all together in one see-through container. The result: hours of free entertainment!
Lance showing off his praying mantis.
Anthony holding onto one big mamba jamba grasshopper (I believe that's the technical term).
A tarantula that we found in our bathroom.
Eager faces look on as the lid is closed and the cage match begins! After hours of entertainment, the unanimous winner, in a shocking cinderella story, was the fearless toad!*
*No animals were harmed during these cage matches...except the bugs...they all got eaten.