Sometimes, life just happens.
This last month has been a exceptionally trying one for our family. Thank you all for your prayers and support as we’ve begun the long process of coming to terms with losing our dear Mom, Gerdien, so unexpectedly. If you missed it, Inez – in her most wonderful way – posted a beautiful goodbye to her mom through her photography. Follow this link to have a look at pictures of Gerdien’s last visit to us.
There is a Taizé song, the lyrics of which I have posted below, which speaks of a fire that burns even in our darkest night. We are so grateful for this foundation that God has built in us, specifically over the past two years –a foundation we have been able to rest on, rest in, while we’ve walked through this dark night. We have also been reminded of the opening of John’s Gospel that speaks of the ‘light [that] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it ‘. (John 1:5. NIV)
“Within our darkest night You give us a fire that never dies away, Never dies away.”
This dark night has been cold, lonely, at times suffocating – BUT, there is a fire that burns on, a fire that has been kindled afresh in us. Sometimes we experience it as a roaring blaze, other times a delicate candle. It is a complex experience, which doesn’t necessarily alleviate the pain, but rather gives us a context in which to live out our current pain.
This fire is multi-faceted. It is God’s presence, which He has awoken us to more and more; it is the graceful gift of community – our family and friends; it is the increase in the bonds of our marriage – our shared faith, hope and love; it is our own individual journey with this God of wisdom, grace and compassion. It is sustaining, nourishing, enveloping.
As anyone who has lost a parent will testify, these are not simple words shared lightly. It takes significant effort to hold onto the fire – or, more accurately, to hold onto the fire that refuses to let go of us. We only wish to share with you all some of the journey of the past few weeks, as experienced through the lens of the past few years.
So, our prayer for everyone, is may this advent season be one of encounter with this fire, encapsulated in the most unlikely of forms.
A defenseless baby,
Born to a teenager,
Rejected among His own,
Destined to be King!
The Listening Project
The intention for this project is to create safe spaces for people to be listened to, in the knowledge that this is vital to the healing process for individuals and communities. This will also serve as an entry point for more formalised counselling support for those in need. The listening project will formalise something already very much in effect. Naming the project merely allows for more clarity and ease of sharing it more widely.
The main thrust of the project will be to provide these spaces for those in ministry – pastors, priests, ministers etc. Church life is not always conducive to leaders bearing their wounds or failings and then receiving healing. A national study of Christian leaders over the past ten years revealed that, across South Africa, the number one factor impacting them was a desire for more intimacy with God – and this was displayed through an acknowledgement of a lack of this. Yes, Christian leaders, currently overseeing churches, are struggling to find intimacy with God. Part of this is due to the system of church and the pressure on our leaders to project the perfection of Christ to us as congregants. This project seeks to relieve some of this pressure by opening a way for leaders to bear wounds, frustrations and pain confidentially in a supportive environment. There will also be opportunity for coaching if requested.
Secondly, there is a great need for more and more spaces in Rustenburg to support the counselling/therapeutic needs of individuals, couples and families. So many people we come into contact with seem to carry this desperate need for someone to listen well, and with empathy, to their life experiences. Not to preach, teach or comment on the experiences, but merely to create the safe space for people to offload. Following this offload, there will opportunities offered for questions and reflection if appropriate.
Part of this discernment is an economic factor – we’ve discovered very few affordable counselling options for people in Rustenburg. We don’t believe this should be an obstacle to people’s emotional health and wellbeing.
Mission Shaped Ministry
Steve has been chasing a few elements to line up during this year to gain traction in better serving the churches of Rustenburg. He has done some of the on-the-ground work settling relationships with local churches, but has desired something additional, that is a very concrete option, to offer that might also serve the churches in the city.
He has now completed the ‘Train-the-Trainer’ of a Fresh Expressions South Africa missional course designed to assist church communities in the journey towards becoming missional congregations. The plan is to begin offering this Mission Shaped Ministry course during 2018 to the churches in Rustenburg in the hope that it will indeed support their journey to becoming, more and more, missional shaped congregations.
Fresh Expressions South Africa is our local equivalent of a UK based missional organisation that exists “to join God’s mission in the world to transform communities, through enabling the development of fresh expressions of church, alongside existing churches, in every place in Southern Africa.”
We are fortunate enough to be in partnership with them via one of our strategic partners, Rev Chrisopher Harrision of Fresh Bread Ministries. They are doing some amazing work, in particular with the more mainline denominations. However, their desire is to reach all denominations and all churches, that are not yet committed to this missional path, and encourage them to be more intentional with reaching the world/society around them.
The inaugural Camp Kaleidoscope event was a great success, with more than 120 disabled and able-bodied participants enjoying the day. More of these events will follow in 2018 – with the scope and numbering increasing. Check out the blog for full coverage and pictures.
Inez has begun supporting this Vision of Hope Foundation project at the Oom Paul School. This project delivers life skills and emotional support to the female learners of this Rustenburg High School. Inez is keen to make a difference in these girls’ lives.
Steve spends time weekly with Rustenburg pastors. The vision is to meet the appropriate need of each encounter: prayerful support & counselling; spiritual formation; spaces for corporate worship; mutual mentoring; strategic or visionary conversations; and relationship building between churches.
Steve has begun writing again this year, and it has filled him with such joy. Mostly his writing is short reflections on ideas or passages of Scripture. The aim is always to promote spiritual growth in the reader.
If you would like to see any of his current work please follow this link to the blog on our website.
Please continue to uphold our family daily in prayer as we continue in ministry. We have so appreciated our dedicated pray-ers through out this year. We have felt the support as we have walked this journey!
Please pray for guidance and strength as we being the process of closing off for the year. There will still be some projects and individual ministry opportunities that will carry on through out December until the New Year. For these, please pray for diligence and energy as we commit to finish the year strong.
Please pray for our discernment and planning process coming up to end off 2017. We will be listening for God’s voice into direction for 2018, specifically where we should be placing the majority of our time and energy.
(If you would like to support us regularly in prayer, please contact us here to sign up for our monthly prayer request email.)
Partnership takes many forms: prayer, financial support, hands on service, relationship. If you are interested in committing to partner with us as a family, or in any of the ministry projects, please contact us on the details below. For direct financial partnership please use the banking details, also supplied below.
Cell: +2782 854 3229
Cell: +2779 340 9880
For direct donations please use the below details:
First National Bank
Account holder: S M Carter
Account number: 6258 8100 322
Branch code: 250 655
Reference: (depositor’ name and surname)
For tax exemption on your donation (via Section 18A of the SA Income Tax Act, 1962) please use the following bank account details:
First National Bank
Account holder: OC Africa NPC
Account number: 5144 0093 759
Branch code: 250 655
Reference: (Carter/donor name)
A SARS compliant certificate will be emailed to you.
May the Lord Jesus be born again in the dusty Bethlehem streets of your hearts;
May the Christ-child’s laughter warm the core of your being;
May His hand clutch yours as you walk this path of Advent with Him;
May you, like Mary, know what it is to bear the God who makes Himself vulnerable, human.