Nervously, I made my way through the dark alleyway between two bustling streets in Cape Town. I passed a booth advertising “Pasport Piktures” on a crooked cardboard sign. Numerous beggars milled around, holding out their hands as I passed.
I found the line I wanted, clutching my diaper bag and the heavy carseat, where my tiny baby was sleeping.
The line for the government’s Home Affairs office wound out the door, down the dirty staircase, and into the alleyway. All I wanted was a birth certificate for my baby. I had not expected this - coming face to face with poverty. As I waited, I noticed a woman and her children huddled in a corner. Her toddler slept fitfully on the thin cotton blanket she had spread under him. She fed her small baby cereal with a cracked wooden spoon. I peeked at my own sleeping baby, her full tummy gently rising and falling, the cotton bow I had so carefully placed on her forehead slipping down over her eyes. As I turned away from the woman, tears filled my eyes and slipped down my cheeks. I couldn’t help but think of the agony she must face, trying to care for her children in this place. I felt the pain of it all in a way I wouldn’t have just weeks earlier, before I had my baby.
They say that becoming a parent changes everything - and truer words were never spoken.
As I waited, I grappled with the same questions that plague me daily here — How can we, living in South Africa, best care for others? How do we help without continuing a cycle of dependency?
How do we provide hope in dark alleys like this one?
The only answer that satisfies is this: the gospel. “…say to them, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9) If I’m honest, sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough. Sometimes I want the gospel, the kingdom, to be more than it is.
I think it’s only because I don’t understand the fullness of it. We toss around these phrases - “the gospel,” “the kingdom” - as if is such a light thing. As if it isn’t for the hopeless … and hope for those of us who face despair only on Mondays. As if it isn’t light coming into dark alleys, and warmth, and a full belly for all. Strength for today, hope for tomorrow.
What plagues me is that to bring the good news, to advance the Kingdom of God, requires courage.
Done correctly, and fully, it turns lives and hierarchies upside-down. Hope for life eternal AND food to fill bellies today.
And yet, I often forfeit opportunities in front of me - because proclaiming the gospel is scary. Bringing the Kingdom of God is scary - it requires doing uncomfortable things and it requires sacrifice.
In silent agony, I debated if I should give the woman the small bills tucked inside my jeans pocket. I debated it so intensely, before I knew it, it was my turn to go inside. Cheeks burning, I walked past her. As I did, I felt another opportunity slip by and felt deep shame at my indecision, my fear.
Jack and I have been wrestling with what it looks like for us, in this place, to bring live the gospel, to bring the Kingdom. And the Lord has been answering, in his own slow, unexpected way - giving us abundant opportunities to participate in training leaders in local churches. Putting the homeless right in front of us and letting us struggle through how to respond to them. Showing us the multiplying effects of teaching correct theology.
We find ourselves awed and humbled by our opportunities here, and how he has used each of you to make this possible. Thank you for being the hands that sent us.
As the Body of Christ, we are making a difference for the kingdom in South Africa. May we share with you how?
In Our Family
On March 24, our daughter, Micah Mae, was born. We praise God for a healthy, natural delivery here in Stellenbosch. Loren’s labor was intense but taught us to pray and worship in a new way. Thank you for your prayers!
To our surprise, just having Micah here has been a testimony to others. Almost everyone we meet can immediately tell we are Americans by our accents. They are intensely curious why we came here, away from our family and home, at such a crucial time in the life of our growing family. With questions like that, opportunities to share the gospel are plenty.
For ten weeks now, we have been in that alternate reality that inevitably accompanies bringing home a newborn. Micah has colic, which means that she is healthy but cries uncontrollably for hours and does not yet sleep well. Her pediatrician has assured us that with time, she will calm down. In the mean time, we are taking one day at a time and finding many reasons to pray for strength and patience.
In Our Ministry with East Mountain
We continue to become more involved with the ministry and community life of East Mountain. We love being part of their team!
- Jack is handling technology for EM’s ministry activities. The knowledge he gained during his former jobs in tech support now meets a vital need here. We work with pastors from many different towns throughout the country. After the pastors visit the EM retreat center to participate in training courses, we don’t want to send them back to their communities empty-handed. We are working to provide them with tablets loaded full of Bible study materials so that when they return home, they have what they need to produce quality sermons and continue their study of the Bible.
- Loren is mentoring a small group of young women (some American, some South African) who are participating in EM’s six week internship program. She is also developing curriculum for the children's ministry here, doing some writing for the website, and building relationships with new friends.
- Jack is currently writing curriculum for the New & Old Testament pastoral training classes.
In Jack’s Studies
Jack’s postgraduate studies are going well, though he is finding time to study harder to come by with a baby in the house! He is finishing up his current courses in Hebrew Narrative Translation and General Linguistics. Soon he will be moving on to study Hebrew poetry and Textual Criticism (the scholarly practice of comparing ancient manuscripts). He has recently selected his topic for extended research is very excited about it! He will be investigating Hebrew words often translated “Now” and “Therefore” - words important for understanding the logic of a passage.
- We are still in need of $500 of monthly support, and we are trusting God to provide for the remainder of our needs. To support our work, click here.
- It has become clear that in order to continue our work with East Mountain, we will need a car. Many of our ministry responsibilities take place outside Stellenbosch, in the local townships or at the team retreat center. Would you consider giving to help us continue our ministry by purchasing a car? Our budget for this is $12,000.
- Please pray with us that the Lord gives us energy as we continue to serve and study despite getting little no sleep.
- Please pray that the Lord provides for the remainder of our financial needs.
- Please pray that God gives us wisdom in how to soothe our fussy baby and best care for her. Pray that we are given patience & perspective, and that she soon is able to calm down.
- Please pray that Jack is able to find the time and energy to devote to his studies, and that we both learn to balance our many opportunities here.
We thank God for each of you! Your support & encouragement means so much to us.