Changes (Just Keep Swimming)

A lot has (and hasn’t) happened in the last few weeks. I figured it’s time to give y’all an update, despite the fact that everything could change tomorrow…or today, for that matter. This is where Anna is at as of 6/16/14, 6:30 pm.

Way back in March, I applied to work with Cru in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. As you prob know, I was accepted on the condition that we came up with enough people for a team. Well, we did’t. I’m still the only one who has applied for this particular location. So that won’t be happening.

This hasn’t ever happened before, and Cru is currently talking with other teams in South Africa to see if I can be placed with one of them. If not, we’ll start talking about possibilities (just possibilities at this point) of re-interning in the US somewhere. But it looks like I’m not going to hear anything soon.

At the same time, I applied for an international relief and development internship with Samaritan’s Purse. This 5 month internship is my dream but only has 13 spots for 200+ applicants to fill. I’ve had an interview but because of the huge number of applicants, once again I’m not going to hear anything soon.

So what am I doing next year? Whatever God wants me to do. I’m currently in limbo, just waiting to hear back from Cru or Samaritans Purse. Because I was originally supposed to be going to Port Elizabeth next year, I didn’t get a summer assignment from Cru aside from raising funds for the trip. Which I can’t exactly do now that it’s not going.

So I’m kind of on indefinite vacation (yay?). It’s weird. It’s uncomfortable. I can’t move out of my apartment because I might be in Davis next year. I can’t raise funds because I might not be working for Cru next year. I can’t really go anywhere because at any point I could be told what I’m doing next and then I will need to start preparing. I can’t look for a different job because these are both two very good options and I haven’t been told “no” to either. I can’t even tell you what I’m doing or where I’ll be next week!

I’m not a naturally patient person, and I don’t rest well. I like to be productive, useful, moving and working. It freaks me out to have time to rest- my friends know how I tend to plan up all my “free” days so I have stuff to do. So I have more than a little growth to do in trusting the Lord and waiting on His timing and guidance.

But this I call to mind- and therefore I have hope! The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to those who seek Him. It is GOOD that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:21-26

This verse has really encouraged me to wait quietly. Trust in His steadfast love should result in a quiet rest of the soul, even when waiting. What else do we need aside from the Father’s constant love and provision?

So for now, I’m going to pull a Dory and just keep swimming ahead as God leads…

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The question everyone’s asking…

The question everyone’s asking…

“What are you doing next year?”

Sometimes all the options for next year make me feel like I'm getting attacked by a bunch of crazy geese...(pic from the book Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh)

Sometimes all the options for next year make me feel like I’m getting attacked by a bunch of crazy geese…(pic from the book Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh)

First, a little perspective.

God’s been teaching me a LOT over the last month, through a variety of people, circumstances, and Scriptures. He’s been humbling me and giving me a different way to look at life. Some of my findings:

Life is short and unpredictable. Things change. People change. Sin and brokenness are throughout the earth. We live in a messed up world. I’ve felt this deeply in the past few weeks as one of my closest friends lost her baby. Elijah was born two months premature and lived twenty minutes. I’ve been convicted to use every day, every moment to glorify God- every opportunity, because we don’t have much time here and it could be over any minute. But the short time we are here can make an eternal impact. Elijah’s life and death has brought so many people closer to God. He’s reminded us to cling to the one who never changes. There is something more than just this world of brokenness. That’s a hope that I want to share with as many people as possible.

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Then there’s the fact that nearly 3 billion people on our planet haven’t had a chance to hear about this hope. 41.8% of the world’s people groups are unreached. That meansthere is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group. And we are called to reach these people.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-19

You don’t necessarily have to go directly to these places to have a part in the Great Commission. Maybe you’re a sender, preparing people and getting them excited about sharing the Gospel. Maybe you are a prayer warrior, praying for the nations. Maybe you’re crossing cultures in your own city. But we are all called to be a part of this mission.

But along with that, I’m  learning that God’s plan doesn’t NEED me. The whole world will hear the gospel eventually  regardless of whether I obey or not.  Nothing can mess up His perfect plan.  He tells us that directly:

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Isaiah 46:10

Talk about humbling. He doesn’t need me, but He wants to use me anyway.  I want to be a part of His plan, whether He asks me to stay in the States or go to the nations.

These are things I know. There’s a lot I don’t know, but I think that’s okay.

So back to the original question.

At the moment, there seems to be an open door for me to work with Cru in South Africa for a year! Yep, I’m going on STINT (short term international missions with Cru)!

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You may already know that South Africa has been on my heart for a long time. I spent two summers with other Cru students helping launch movements on multiple campuses in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, and you can read about my experience in earlier blog posts from 2011 and 2012.   Our region has a partnership with Campus Crusade for Christ, South Africa (CCCSA). In 2010, Cru sent a small team of students and staff to Port Elizabeth, where they started a CCCSA student ministry movement on one campus of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

This photo  was taken the second summer I was in Port Elizabeth. Khaya (center) interned with CCCSA the following year, and Tyler (left) is currently working with CCCSA at NMMU!

This photo was taken the second summer I was in Port Elizabeth. Khaya (center) interned with CCCSA the following year, and Tyler (left) is currently working with CCCSA at NMMU!

 

Four years later, CCCSA is on two campuses in Port Elizabeth and just starting on three others.  We have committed to sending a small team of interns each year to support these movements and train up student leaders until national staff can take over leadership and training. We’ve seen a lot of progress towards this goal- last year a South African interned alongside the American staff team!

South Africa is a particularly strategic country to reach as it holds significant influence over sub-Saharan Africa. While it has modern infrastructure, there are many “third-world” realities in this nation. Racial tensions are nearly as high as they were in the days of apartheid, the political sphere is extremely corrupt and unstable, and the income gap between the rich and the poor is huge. AIDS has crippled the country’s development, and violent crime rates are rising rapidly. It is a broken nation with broken people, and only Christ can heal the deep wounds this nation has experienced.

The Missionvale campus of NMMU, surrounded by slums.

The Missionvale campus of NMMU, surrounded by slums.

But tomorrow’s leaders are today’s college students! I am so excited to move to South Africa in January and come alongside student leaders in their efforts to reach students with the gospel. This university hosts many international students from all over the world who have the potential to take the gospel back home to their communities, some of which are unreached.

The only barrier we are facing at the moment is that our team needs TWO more men to be able to go. Will you join me in praying for the Lord to provide? This is something that Jesus directly asks us to pray for:


“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38

May the Lord’s will be done, whether our team is able to go or not!

 

Read more about unreached people groups here: http://joshuaproject.net
Read more about STINT with Cru here: http://www.wearesent.com/vision.html

Read about the current ministry in South Africa here: http://www.wearesent.com/africa.html

Post-Project Musings :)

I am finally starting to feel better, and being home for a couple weeks has given me a great chance to reflect on the summer and to consider where God might be taking me in the next few years! 

So what did I learn this summer?

  • I learned a ton about what it looks like to start a student-run campus movement. As we met with students on some of the campuses that were harder to reach, we got the opportunity to cast vision for the students and show them how they could lead their friends and classmates in Bible studies. This was really exciting, and I liked that it focused less on us forming relationships with them and more on the students forming relationships with each other. This is much more sustainable in the long run because we have to come back to school here!

    Rhodes University in Grahamstown

  • At the beginning of project, I was hesitant to step into a pseudo-leadership role on the team but was pushed into it as I was one of only two students who had been to South Africa before. In hindsight, I think it was a great experience, as I learned a lot about what it looks like to lead in word and action while still letting students experience things on their own. As my teammates came to me with cultural and ministry questions, I was able to use my past experiences to help them understand ministry in PE. I was really surprised at the huge amount of respect I received and it was so neat to see God use mein this way.

    Dinner with Lisa, a UCD junior this year. We had the greatest conversations and found out we had a lot more in common than we thought!

  • Last year in CRU at Davis we talked about how every relationship is a two-way discipleship opportunity. Unlike last year, I was one of the older students on my team, and I had the privilege of bringing younger Davis students with me. I noticed God using my conversations with them to encourage them to take steps of faith, and I was often convicted as I listened to God speaking to them through me and realized my need to grow in the same areas. Taking steps of faith is a lot easier when you’re doing it alongside someone else!It was so encouraging to see God redeem struggles in my life and use them to help others. Even the students on campus showed me the Gospel in ways I’d never heard it explained before. “God is such a gentleman,” one girl repeated over and over. 
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    How can you resist this? One of the girls at Jerusalem Ministries

  •  I realized that God has placed a deep passion in my heart for community development ministry, whether it is in the US or in another country. We worked with an organization called Jerusalem Ministries in a local township that provides Christ-centered community services such as vocational training, drug rehabilitation, aftercare programs, and a library. I love to see how whole neighborhoods are affected by Christians who share the good news not only through words but also through pouring into their communities. Christ modeled this idea so well, and I am excited to follow His example with my life.
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    He was totally sacked out in my lap for a good half hour while we watched the little girls’ dance class. The girl in pink next to me never left my side while we were there- so sweet.

    As I am entering my senior year, almost everyone has asked me what my post-graduation plans are. To be completely honest, I don’t know yet. I’m looking at different programs, including STINT in South Africa and a Christian international agriculture development course with ECHO. I’ll be going to a conference in the fall with CRU to learn more about what it looks like to be a Christian in the workplace. I’m not too worried about not having a plan yet; pray that God will continue to lead me. 

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Potential STINT 2014 team? hahaha Khaya’s trying to talk us into it

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…but agricultural ministry sounds awesome too!

 

 

Last few days…

It’s Friday afternoon, and we are officially done with campus ministry here. It’s so weird to think we’re flying home on Sunday morning. I definitely have mixed feelings…I’m stoked to see my family, but I absolutely love living here. I’ve made so many friends and it is hard to say goodbye. I don’t have much time now, but this has been a very interesting week and I have some cool stories. For now, be praying for a girl named Adel who is seriously considering accepting Christ. Pray also for good closure as we finish up the project and our time in PE with the stinters and students.