inheritance [prayer]

"ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession."      
psalm 2:8

we are beginning a rhythm of prayer here in the all nations community...and it is very exciting...and necessary.

God has laid it upon several of our hearts to begin a rhythm of prayer that not only brings a community together in prayer and worship to the God of the universe...but also does not hide...in fact it exposes our weaknesses...our questions...our vulnerabilities and tosses them at the feet of Jesus...

because frankly, after the week that it has been, i can't seem to see any other way of processing what i have seen, what i have experienced here, what is happening all around me than to cry out to God...and say...here...you deal with it.

and so we will begin a rhythm of prayer...first by praying together in community every Monday from 7-8pm...praying and listening to God and following Him as he grows this vision of prayer and builds this rhythm.

and we will pray for the people of masi and oceanview...and red hill...and bo kaap...and for other nations

we must pray for the nations...

i have been met with confusion, broken-heartedness and sometimes anger this week on behalf of and at other times because of the people in masi. there is such injustice, such carelessness, such...desperation here that i have never seen before and it is catching up with me a bit.  i have seen people living in a virtual swamp in their own homes...and i have seen men so drunk they are unable to keep themselves upright...and i have seen the desperation for something solid...something stable and reliable in some men where they are tricked into thinking that robbery and violence is the only way to get it...

...and it is all very difficult to see and experience every day...

but what are my choices...i can close my eyes and ignore the painful reality of what i know the situation to be...or...i can open my eyes and be overcome by despair or anger or a loss of faith...

but i don't really like either of these options...

instead...i want to learn how to pray for the world...for the people of masi...for the men who are so wounded and broken and desperate to be [  ] that they can't figure out what it means to be a man. i want to learn how to pray prayers that mirror that same desperation in the presence of jesus...

i want to see people healed in masi...

the book of revelation promises that there is a tree growing in heaven along the banks of the river of God that sprouts leaves that are "for the healing of the nations."

this is a beautiful image

and so i will take this prayer for the healing of these nations [masi itself represents south africa, somalia, ethiopia, zimbabwe, malawi, sudan] and will add to it the prayer for these nations as my inheritance.  after all, what could possibly be better than see these people reconciled to their maker...becoming men and women of peace who can in fact experience these leaves of healing.

And being completely transparent...right now...i don't know how the leaves of heaven will heal the people of masipumaleleh, but i do know that their simple presence means God is fully aware of the borken state of masi...and the world. He is after all...

El Roi...the God who sees.

and so i will call upon El Roi, and we who begin this rhythm of prayer together will call upon El Roi and i invite you to call upon El Roi in order to remind him of his name...

i will ask him to be true to his nature...to his promises...to his heart for his creation.  

and i will admit...and accept...that God's wisdom and his vision very rarely look like what i think they should look like and so i relinquish my need to understand how or why he acts and what he does and does not allow to happen on this earth...and simply believe...

and i will work to tune my heart and my vision to his...understanding that ultimately that is the source of everything right and just and true.

so i will ask the God who sees all things to give me masi as my inheritance...

...and i choose to trust that he will.

**photo by chelsea gentry**



what does it look like to live on the fringes… to be the ones who are cast aside and who must fight to survive every day?

in masipumaleleh…a packed township of roughly 35,000 people just outside of kommetjie, south africa, people know what it means to live on the fringes.  over the past week i have been getting to know this place that will be my ministry setting for the next four and a half months…and to be completely honest, this seems like the most daunting of settings i have ever been placed in.  mixed with hurt, pain, abandonment and sickness are poverty, irresponsibility and violence.  it is a community that struggles with being on the fringes on a daily basis.

when i think of the word “fringe” i think of an unraveling…a loosening.  i picture a rug with the ends that are frayed and worn and often easily pulled out…removed and discarded.  this is how i am beginning to see masi.  and the result has been an emotional tension like nothing i have felt before.  i have not seen this level of poverty…ever.  and besides my grappling with the nature of human kind in all of this…or where i could possibly fit in the lives of the men for whom my heart aches…i wonder at just how this loving and merciful God we so humbly serve will make his name great and his Son famous in such a dark and wild place as the streets of masipumaleleh.  and yet…even in a week…my God who is faithful to answer prayers has shown himself faithful to me.  in fact…he has show me that he has begun this good work even before my stepping foot onto the beautifully rusty dirt of this continent. 

yes…he is showing me that his name is already great…and i must simply speak it out.  and so on wednesday, danmike and I went with Stephen to sit in with a bunch of ganja smoking rastafarians (think bob marley)…seven of us in all…and sat in a small shack with the top part of the door still open as it rained on the tin roof…while men would periodically come by to pick up their daily dose  of marijuana. don’t you think this would be a perfect place to plant a church…i think so. and so we talk about this man jesus who walked the earth faultless and died for us because he and his Father love us so much.

and then there is ali, a muslim from ethiopia who has come from one struggling country to another to open what he has (as our non-christian friends would call it) ironically called the “good hope” shop…a small grocery where people come in and out to buy their daily nourishment or a couple cigarette here or there…and where older men sit and chat with one another. don’t you think this would be a perfect place to talk about jesus and plant a church…i think so.  and so jeremiah and i go and visit ali and mohommad and mothusi and say hello and ask them how business is and talk about ali’s dreams to visit the great tourism trap of minneapolis…and we talk about this man jesus who is the only one who can give “good hope” in all things and circumstances. 

and if that wasn’t enough for the first week…God says, I’m really going to show you how great I AM and how famous i want my Son to be in this place…on sunday…after he jokingly asked where my tie was, jeremiah and i drove through masi…past all of those dressed in their Sunday best as they walked to their beautiful brick and barred church buildings on mainstreet…to the wetlands…the dirtiest…smelliest...seemingly most God-forsaken area of the whole township…

the fringes…

and we gathered our friends from zimbabwe…henri…who just finished a joint and a beer as we arrived and who is mourning the loss of his three year old son who died four weeks ago in zim and can’t go and be the husband and father his family needs right now because he is trying to provide for them the best he can…washington…a young, educated man who had prospects for work in zim until he had to flee and now can’t find any job nor the motivation to look any longer…mohammodi…another young man who worries about where his next meal will come from and if he will survive to see another day…and several others.

nine of us in all…

we gathered in the fringes of masipumaleleh…in a dark shack with no windows…one light bulb…and a plastic-lined floor…and we decided that it was a perfect place to plant a church…and so that is what we did on sunday…we gathered together…encouraged each other…loved each other…worshipped…sang…and talked about this man named jesus who lived on the fringes and loved those living on the fringes and welcomed those living on the fringes into his kingdom.

and we agreed to continue meeting together in love as it states in hebrews…and we will continue to learn together more about this man named jesus who is making his name famous in the fringes of south africa and around the world.

his heart is for the fringes…i want mine to be like his…


going : reuniting

so i'm finally here...in south africa...after a very long journey that included one very long pit-stop in London where i was able to see the kensington palace, the buckingham palace, the parliment building (better known as BIG BEN), westminster cathedral (beautiful might i add) and many other great sites. overall, i found myself getting lost on this day...living a live an annonymity...and as odd as it sounds, it sort of felt good. but one day was enough for me. in fact, that day and a half alone really allowed me to think of the people i was leaving behind in grand rapids and the people that i am returning to in south africa. in a way, in London, my alone-ness was being sandwiched by two communities that have become very dear to me.

first of all, there is my grand rapids community which includes family, friends and ministry partners. what an incredible two year season this has been...learning and growing and being challenged together. and in leaving my family in the airport and (transparent moment here) bursting into tears on the flight to chicago as i read letters from loving loving and supportive parents and siblings and encouraging words from others that will remain in grand rapids...i realized that they were tears of joy that i was crying. yes there is a certain sadness that comes from leaving what is familiar, what is loved and what is growing. but even more, when i can stand back at see how the community that has been surrounding me the last two years is one that truly understands the call of the wild goose and so they send with joy and not reservation, knowing full well that what is about to take place has been ordained way before our time. certainly i will miss this community of family and friends...and that is okay...and confirming that what has taken place in this last season has been rich and full and fruitfull...and it is exactly what what required to prepare me for this introduction to this new community.

of course, thursday was not the first time i stepped into this community...having grown friendships a year ago here in south africa. however, it is indeed the time that i will be stepping into this community and engaging with them in the ways that i engaged with those that i have left for a time. as i sat in london, there was anticipation for reunions with best of friends who were sent out themselves earlier this year and have since shared with me exciting moments that i look forward to experience. and there is the excitement of seeing those that are dear to me though i have known them but for a short time. none the less, when people work together in community to see the kingdom of god built up and lived out...there is pure excitement and joy in reuniting together. 

and so now i am here and the reunions have been sweet and the work has been placed before me and there is an exciting sense of equipping that has taken place over the past year that was missing last time i visisted this beautiful yet tormented land. and God himself is here. just as he is in grand rapids. and i praise him for that because it means that it is right that i am here. and so i think fondly of those missed in grand rapids knowing that you are in my heart and that i am in yours and that what has been know is not a vanishing vapor but a strong bond that will continue over these next couple of months. 

and when i think of you i will pray for you, for his richest blessings in your life and for his overwhelming presence to be upon you and in you and through you. and i will pray that you will be a vessel of the kingdom of our great and powerful God. 

and i as that as you think of me, that you will also do the same. 

i look forward to sharing with you the stories, both remarkable and mundane that are taking place here in this beautiful land. it is truly a privilege to serve in this place and to meet those who i will meet. 

please share with me what God is up to in your life. in the spirit of connecting these communities that make up but one body of jesus freaks and followers of the king, i invite you to see what God is doing...here...and where you are. 

we are blessed ones.