Friday, May 29, 2009



“Satan is in a time bind, therefore, like the heat of Nebuchadnezzar’s blazing furnace, he’s turning up the fire on every modern-day Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego”- Beth Moore

Lately, the Lord has reminded me of the sense of urgency we should be feeling about faith. We are running out of time; this is an emergency of the most dire persuasion: eternal life and death. Jesus could come back at any second, perhaps while you are reading this. Are we prepared? I’ve heard it said that those who plan to come to the Lord at 11 o’clock often die at 10:30- why risk the wait?

As you probably know, Josh and I have gotten involved in a local youth group, a ministry we’ve come to love. This month the talks have been centered around missions, and on Friday (5/29/09), I will be speaking about missionary persecution, specifically my experience serving in China.

What they will discover is that my message actually has less to do with missionary persecution than with the persecution of Chinese citizens and citizens of other countries that outlaw Christianity. Thousands of people die all over the world each year in the name of Christ. We have no excuse to not believe, and no excuse for not living out our faith.

Thinking about the people I worked with in China also brings to mind another dimension of urgency: sharing the Gospel. Even in this day of technology, internet, international travel, and Bibles being translated into thousands of languages, there are still people who have not heard the Good News of Christ. And why not?- because we don’t feel like going, supporting, reaching out, speaking, or praying? Are we really willing to allow our greed, comfort, laziness, and egocentrism get in the way of someone else’s salvation?

And what about those around us? Do they know the Truth? We cannot make decisions for others, but we can certainly provide them with the information needed to make an educated choice. How many times have I not shared my faith with someone for fear of them not receiving it well or looking down on me? It is completely ridiculous that I have placed my own insecurity above their right to know Jesus!

It often seems like we are all waiting for the next guy to step up and take responsibility. We are too busy, or too, important, or to unaffected, or too distracted; besides, it’s just easier to let someone else take care of it:

“ ‘A pastor friend of mine said, “Our problem is that we no longer have martyrs. We only have celebrities.’ Most of the time, when I see Christian superstars like Jerry Falwell or Al Sharpton, I feel like I’m watching professional wrestling. There’s a lot of shouting and sweating, but the people seem too superhuman, and I’m not convinced all the moves are real. And as with any sports event, there are tons of spectators, desperately in need of exercise, who sit back and watch a handful of people who could really use a little break, or maybe a massage.”-Shane Claiborne, Irresistible Revolution

Tonight, we watched a DVD at our team meeting that reinforced this message: it is all of our responsibility. We can not just leave the work to the next person; the job is too extraordinary. Please view this video of a sermon entitled "Fruitcake and Ice Cream"(by Louie Giglio). I will warn you that it’s about half an hour long, but it is well worth your time. It may just change your life.

Seriously, please watch it before you read on. Yes, this means you.

This compelling message convincingly reinforced the sense of urgency God has laid on my heart, urgency to share with people here and at home.

After watching, we listened to the song mentioned in the video, "Mighty to Save" For the last couple of months, this has been my favorite worship song, and the “coincidence” didn’t escape my awareness. In case you don’t know it, I’ve included the lyrics:

"Mighty to Save"

Everyone needs compassion,
Love that's never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.
Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The Hope of nations.

Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

So take me as You find me,
All my fears and failures,
Fill my life again.
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in,
Now I surrender.

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

Shine your light and let the whole world see,
We're singing for the glory of the risen King...Jesus (x2)

Here’s my challenge to you: listen to this song, and think of those around you who haven’t dedicated their lives to Christ, or who may have fallen from their walk with Him. Pray for them, and ask God to show you how you might encourage them to draw closer to Him. Then act on it- we are running out of time.

Week 10- So Long, Farewell

Week 10

Josh started my week off beautifully with these yellow roses!

This week began with a lot of changes. Monday morning at 7, we moved to a different host home. Although we have enjoyed our time with our first host family, and will miss them immensely, the new host home is in a much better location and is just a better fit for our situation. Our new host family consists of a pastor and his wife (a principal at a farm school), and their 3 children. After dropping off our pile of stuff (which seems to have grown a bit since we arrived) and quickly speaking with Myrtle, we were off to Windhoek!

Monday was Brittany’s last full day in Namibia (she flew out on Tuesday), so Steve, Josh, and I went to Windhoek to spend the day with her. We spent some time with the Rineer family while Britt completed her debriefing, and then met up at Mugg and Bean for lunch, her favorite. We all walked together to the combi rank, and hugs, good-byes, and prayers ensued. We miss her already.

Britt- Thank you for sharing your time, gifts, and heart with us. You have had an incredible impact here for the Kingdom, one only God can measure. I can’t wait to see you next spring!

Tuesday was our first full day with our new host family, and we spent a lot of time unpacking in between ministry duties. Tuesday and Wednesday I also began meeting with some of the children I will be counseling; until this point I have just met with the moms, so that was an exciting transition.

Wednesday we found out some crazy things had been going on in one of the farms we visited last week, Schlip. During our camp there, I chose to spend time with the older group of teenagers and young adults. A group of students from the youth group had performed the Sin on My Back skit that we had performed during the mini-camp. Afterwards, some students shared testimonies about how God had helped them overcome sin in their lives. Jerome (the youth group leader) asked the older group for other examples of spiritual strongholds, and one that came up was witchcraft. It kind of took some of us by surprise; of course it’s sinful, but we were just expecting more “everyday” sins (for lack of a better way to say it). It was simply unexpected.

This past week, an article came out in the local newspaper about weird things happening in Schlip. Since I don’t read Afrikaans, I cannot tell you what it said exactly, but Josh and I spoke to someone who was consulted by local authorities on this matter, and this is what we were told:

-there was unexplainable activity that took place in Schlip this past week, including rocks, household items, and possibly animals flying through the air when nobody [human] could possibly have thrown them.
-one local law enforcement official was hit by a cast iron pan that flew up from the floor
-people were injured by flying rocks
-apparently, this is not terribly unusual here (but it is said to happen more frequently in the north)
-the local citizens called law enforcement officials, who eventually called local religious authorities

Spiritual warfare is very, very real here, possibly in a different sense than in other places. Given the presence of “religions” other than Christianity, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising. There are times here when you can literally sense a spiritual darkness. Alcoholism, abuse, self-mutilation, and violence abound. Suicide is unusually common. This is very, very serious, and we would greatly appreciate your prayers. We know we are safe in the Lord, but we have no doubt the enemy will try to attack us. He cherishes his power in this place. Please do battle with us:

Prayer Requests:

1. That the eyes of unbelievers would be opened to the truth
2. Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical Safety
3. Energy and good health
4. Settling in and developing relationships with new host family
5. Protection from the enemy’s attacks
6. Guidance in how we divide our time in ministry
7. Family and friends back home
8. Britt’s transition home
9. Guidance in counseling at Hope’s Promise
10.Community involvement in youth center

Week 9- Farm Camp

Namibia has year-round school, with “holidays” (or school breaks) in May, August, and December-January. I was envisioning life slowing down a bit, but this has been our busiest month so far! Between visiting Swakopmund, having a “stay-awake” (or lock-in) with the youth group, mini-camp at the youth center, and farewell activities for Britt, we’ve stayed busy. This week continued the chaos.

On Sunday we had our weekly team meeting, and it was also a farewell party for Britt. She did praise songs by request, and it was a sweet time of fellowship. Catherine’s boyfriend, Matthew, is here from the UK for a week, so he joined us, and then her former host family also came over, so it was a party. Here’s the crazy part: as her former host mom and I were discussing people’s misconceptions of Namibia, I happened to mention the Man vs. Wild story, and it turns out that Bear Grilis, the star of the show, attends his (rather large) church at home. Small world, huh?

On Monday I started my new job at Hope’s Promise, and we found out we will be moving to live with a new host family. It was a dramatic way to start the week. Working with Hope’s Promise is a wonderful opportunity for me, because I am able to serve God using my specific gifting and training, which doesn’t always happen in missions. We are also excited for the opportunity of living with another host family. We love our current host family very much, but our new home will be a better fit for us in terms of location and privacy.

Monday and Tuesday were also filled with a frenzy of packing all our belongings, because on Wednesday we were off to farm camp! Since we were gone from Wed.-Sun., we had to both pack for the camp and be ready to move the morning after we got back. Josh took the lead on this project and did an amazing job of getting things prepared.

Farm camp was with the youth group at our church ESK, and it was a wonderful experience. During each of the three school holidays, the youth group does some sort of outreach project, and this time it was doing one-day kids camps at each of three farms. “Farm” here does not mean the same thing it does in the U.S.; here it is more like a small rural town with up to a couple hundred homes on a large piece of land. There are usually some stores, and at least one church and school.

Our transportation was a little different than what it may have been at home:

As you can see, the majority of the 30 or so youth sat or stood in the beds of trucks for the 100 km to our destination. We stayed at Omamas, the farm where the youth leader grew up. His mother was a such a hospitable person, graciously allowing 40 people to camp out at her home for 4 nights. They family raises goats and chickens, and they were certain to wake us up bright and early every morning.

The youth all slept outside on the front porch (on mattresses borrowed from the local hostel, which is on holiday), and for some of them this was a big deal, because they’ve never done it before. There is no electricity, and the water is sparing, so we mostly used the outhouse for a bathroom (another first for some). Josh was excited because he got to see an animal slaughter for the first time (a goat), and he even ate goat head and intestine-yum!

This is the sunrise on our first morning, taken from the front porch.

Laundry drying on the line; we haven’t seen a clothes dryer in Africa yet.

The ruins of a neighboring house

We had a sprinkling of rain during the sunrise, and this rainbow appeared over the neighboring site

We drove to a neighboring farm for our first day, and started out with no kids (which is problematic for a kids camp). We decided to walk the streets to scrounge up interest. As soon as we told parents “free lunch,” they were sold. Eventually, we had maybe 100 kids.

This is one of the homes on the farm

During the camp, we did songs, games, and sports, and fed the kids lunch. Each child received a butter and jelly sandwich and “cool drink,” which is basically colored sugar-water. All leaders ate the same. In the afternoon, we did an “Olympics” with relays, netball, and soccer.

Spectators sat on halfway-buried tires

The boys played soccer, and girls played netball. We haven’t witnessed any co-ed sports in Namibia.

The sky looked amazing.

The second day began much like the first, with a beautiful sunrise, praise music blaring from a truck (at 5:30 am!), and the little boys making a fire.

This time, we went to Schlip, another farm south of Omamas.

This free-roaming bull sat down in the middle of the only driveway to the school…thankfully, that was after we drove in!

I became very excited when I found out that their school only goes up to grade 10 and that all students go to Rehoboth High School for grades 11 and 12, because that meant there was a good chance that at least one of my Bible study girls was from Schlip. Indeed, one of them is, but unfortunately she was in Windhoek!

There were fewer kids at our camp in Schlip, but we still made the most of it. The highlight of the day was when some guys from the farm challenged the guys from our group too a game of soccer, and our boys won!

Here’s part of our cheering section.

During the game, some of the local kids tried to teach me Namatal, and tried to imitate my English. We had a lot of laughs!

The last day was pretty low-key: we had very few kids show up, so we had a shorter camp than usual and called it a day. Everyone was really tired, so it was probably for the best. There was a lot of time to just hang out, relax, and bond, which was a huge blessing. I set up shop tweezing eyebrows (per request) with the only tweezers I could find- a horrible round-tipped pair Steve lent me- but the “customers” still left happy. Josh built fires for the braai (barbeque) grills. It was so nice to have a quiet, peaceful evening- a perfect end to a great experience.

Prayer Requests:

1. A smooth transition home for Brittany
2. That we would be able to adapt well and quickly to our new living situation
3. Community involvement in the youth center
4. God’s guidance and provision in setting up a counseling program with
Hope’s Promise

Friday, May 22, 2009

Josh's First Blog Entry

Well, it's been almost a year since Nicky started this blog, so it's time for me to contribute. It's only taken me 8 months, so you'll probably hear from me again in January...

“This morning…it dawned that shallow waters were a place where you can neither sink nor swim. In deep waters it is either one or the other…Swimming is the intensest, most strenuous form of motion. All of you is involved in it, and yet every inch of you is in abandonment of rest upon the water that bears you up.”
-Lilias Trotter

From recent quiet time:

It is very dangerous to become spiritually relaxed, because you stop reaching for God, you stop desiring Him. You become more attracted to your ideas and principles learned in the past than to the living God that taught you them.

Following Jesus is like swimming upriver. If you stop swimming, you begin to float downstream. You can never be stationary. If you aren’t actively pursuing Jesus, you are drifting away from Him.

Taking your eyes off Christ is allowing time with anyone to have priority over your time with Him. It is allowing your thoughts to be on anything more than they are on Him. It is sacrificing more for any cause than you sacrifice for Him.
Lord, let my eyes always be on you.

Week 8 Report

That’s right, we are going on 2 months in Africa! Can you believe it? At times, it feels like we just arrived; there is still so much to learn and adapt to. Other times, it feels like we’ve been away from home forever. (Don’t forget to check out the “What We Love About Africa” and “What We Miss About Home” lists on the right side of this page.) We trust God’s timing is perfect.

Week 8 was dominated by preparation for and execution of our 2-day mini-camp at the youth center. We did skits, played games, made crafts, sang songs, and had a Bible-story time. We had almost 4 times as many kids come Thursday as Wednesday, so apparently news travels fast in Rehoboth!

Playing outside

Josh manning the registration desk

Thursday morning, we acted out a skit called “Sin On My Back,” in which I played the sin on Josh’s back that he couldn’t get rid of. My job was to hang on tight while he jumped up and down, ran in circles, and tried various techniques for getting rid of sin. After someone prayed with him, I slowly died while sliding to the ground (which is more difficult than it sounds).

As we are very limited in the craft supplies we have available, we had to think creatively to find a craft for each day that would interest both boys and girls, would cross any cultural or language barriers, would use only supplies we have on hand, and would be appropriate for kids as young as 5 up through kids in 7th grade. So, we did face painting, which we knew was a huge hit from when we did it with the pre-schoolers after our clown ministry. We painted their faces, and they did finger painting while they waited.

Josh hanging the masterpieces.

This little girl (one of the youngest) didn’t understand the we would paint the faces, and the kids would paint the paper. Isn’t she precious?

This is Britt’s guitar, which our team has affectionately named “Indigo Dirk.”

The group in the morning one Thursday. We had added about 10 kids by the end of the day (you know, Africa time).

This camp was a huge milestone for the youth center. Until this point, we have been remodeling the building and hanging out with the kids that walk by on their way home from school. We had no formal programming whatsoever. This camp showed that the dream of this youth center fulfilling a need in this community is one step closer to reality. Until recently, almost all money for repairs and supplies has come from AIM missionary work funds, which was obviously not a sustainable formula. Now, we are beginning to receive local financial support and volunteers. Our goal is to build a program, then work ourselves out of a job, while members of the community take over.

Prayer Requests:

1. Financial support for the youth center, especially for rent and utilities
2. For the community to see the value of this ministry, and to get involved!
3. Kids on school break- safety and wise decisions
4. Grace, guidance, and peace for Britt as she prepares to return to the United States.
5. Comfort and peace for out family and friends back home

Monday, May 18, 2009

Week 7: Swakopmund

Okay, this is actually week 9, but May has been REALLY busy, so I'm playing catch-up.

Week 7 started out quietly; we were occupied with planning our mini-camp for week 8. We were blessed by an encouraging, humbling blog post by our dear friend Mrs. Lovewell (click here to see it). I spent part of Wednesday trying to upload upload photos and videos to the blog, but the internet was obstinate. I got kicked off repeatedly. T.I.A. (This is Africa).

On Thursday (5/1/09), we made an early morning departure for Swakopmund, a tourist town on the coast (not tourist like London, more like Duluth). We went with Steve, Britt, and Heidi, which was a big blessing because Heidi had been there before.

Although Swakop (don’t I sound like a local?) is maybe only 100 km away from Rehoboth as the crow flies, it took us 5 hours to get there. Two of us traveled in the back of the Bakkie (pronounced like “bucky“); let’s just say it wasn’t made with a smooth ride in mind. Nonetheless, it sure beat walking. They say that Namibia has some of the best roads in Africa, but it’s important to remember that many things in life are relative. Our guidebook states, “The number of road graders per capita must be the highest in the world…” However, Namibia’s population density is one of the lowest in the world, around 2 people/ km. You do the math.

Although we are approaching “winter” (don’t cry for us, Minnesota), weather in Rehoboth is still hot, dry, and sunny. Swakop, in contrast, was cool, wet, and overcast. A nice change for the first day, but we were grateful when the sun came out on Saturday.

We stayed in a delightful place called the Finnish Schoolhouse, which was actually a school. They offer special rates for missionaries (YAY!), and are located just one block from the beach, so it was pretty much amazing. They even had hot showers!

On Friday we wandered downtown, and there happened to be some sort of national youth festival down by the market, which meant it was swarming with people. We saw Himba people in traditional dress, which was an interesting contrast to the Germanic tourist town around them.

On Saturday we went quad-biking, which is 4-wheeling on giant sand dunes. It was quite possibly the most fun I’ve had since coming to Africa, and I’m pretty sure Josh didn’t hate it, either. Quad-biking is really more akin to snowmobiling, because you are completely unencumbered by bumps, ditches, and the like.

I always wondered why people would visit places like Egypt to see giant piles of sand. Now I know.

Sunday was a day filled with baking, pancakes, and quiet time on the beach. Josh and I were blessed to spend some quality time one the beach watching an amazing sunset.

Tender-heart in Swakopmund.

Sunday night we watched one of our favorite movies, Fireproof, which was exciting because we don’t have DVDs here. If you haven’t seen it yet, run to your favorite video store NOW!

Monday consisted mainly of packing up and traveling home, but we witnessed another gorgeous sunset during our journey.

We are blessed.