February was an unusual month, the warmest February in history here in Charlotte, yet I missed virtually all of that while enjoying (most of) a month of real summer on the other side of the equator, in Southern Africa.
My stops included South Africa, Zambia, and Malawi, and my traveling companion was Nathan Krupke, our CFO at SIM USA. Nathan and I began by performing financial audits of SIM offices at each of those three stops, following which we attended SIM’s Global Assembly in Johannesburg, South Africa.
There were a couple of themes running throughout this trip, and I’ll use some photos to help tell a few stories. (Click on the photos to enlarge them, and see the entire caption!)
Fumane is Treasurer for our SIM office in Johannesburg, where she serves our teams in nine Southern African countries by caring for their finances. Her husband is a professional soccer player from Nigeria.
On many of our SIM teams worldwide, the “team” in reality extends beyond just SIM, where friendships and partnerships grow to include other organizations as well. In this case, two of the couples that we spent our Sunday with are workers with Flying Mission Zambia, who fly our staff into places that are sometimes unreachable by road.
The Johannesburg office includes Swiss and Canadians working alongside of South Africans, providing vital services in leadership, media and IT along with finance.
Fostance (left-center) is a Malawian who directs Sports Friends Malawi, a very impactful ministry that equips local churches to minister through sports. Nico (right-center) is a Dutchman who directs a ministry that reaches out to those of another major religion in the region.
Nico and his family led us up a mountain, where we enjoyed a spectacular view.
Worship times at Global Assembly were rich and meaningful, as all 450 participants came together to worship the Lord in many languages but with one voice.
Our auditing job is simplified a bit when the treasurer is married to the director, as is currently the case with SIM Zambia. Jeff and Rose have served this team sacrificially through several years of ministry in this office.
Wadi is our SIM Malawi Treasurer. He and his wife treated us to a wonderful Malawian supper, along with their young son.
This brief reunion with most of our Liberia delegation was especially sweet.
First is that SIM is old! We’re old, but still changing and growing. This year SIM is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and the celebration was kicked off in grand fashion with over 450 SIMers from more than 50 different countries attending our second tri-annual Global Assembly in Johannesburg. Continue reading
Part of my work in child safety involves following current events, and providing resources for parents. Below is some helpful material I received today.
From Darkness to Light
In today’s world, media is everywhere – on our TVs, on our phones, and on the radio on the way to school. Currently, we all have been flooded with the horrific Larry Nassar case. As an adult, this can be a pretty scary topic to talk about with children. It’s important to realize that it is not just a “gymnastic problem” and child sexual abuse can happen in any youth sports organizations or other youth serving organizations.
So how do you start this conversation? Continue reading
The world is still talking about it this morning, so apparently it really did happen. We were sitting on the couch quietly planning a funeral, beginning to silently process another devastating loss. They were so dead, and then…
I have a new-found appreciation of what it felt like to those who discovered the empty tomb of Jesus. Wait, did somebody steal his body? Is there a yellow flag out there on the field? How did that boulder get rolled away? Did he step out of bounds? OMG (read Case’s lips!), what on earth just happened??
It feels wrong to compare a football game to a resurrection. My point, though, is just to say that in a hundred years we won’t be talking about this game, but we’ll talk of the empty tomb, and all that it accomplished, forever and ever.
This morning, I’m sure enjoying that football game all over again. Forever and ever, I’ll enjoy the resurrection and all that it accomplished for friends and enemies, young and old, rich and poor, and black and white, not to mention all other races and ethnicities.
And here’s a nice story about Case Keenum.
Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E) shares wisdom that each of us needs to consider.
As the dark horrors of sexual abuse finally begin to surface across all spectrums of our society, we are once again reminded that our churches are not immune from this wickedness. The #metoo and #churchtoo movements are a sobering and painful reminder that a dark winter exists inside the Church … a community that claims to follow the One who is the Light of the world. (Read the article here.Winter Insde the Church, and the Hope of Christmas)
Follow them on Facebook to regularly see what they are sharing.
Dear friends and family,
Greetings from Charlotte! We still aren’t quite used to the way fall begins here, with no MN State Fair to mark the end of summer. We are starting to see some fall colors now, and enjoying slightly cooler weather. But, as Minnesota natives, we are looking forward to experiencing some “real” fall weather at the end of this month! Continue reading
Who is SIM USA? What do they do? Why do they do it?
We are thankful to be part of this ministry. We’ve introduced SIM International, and today we’d love for you get to know SIM USA more personally. And, if you’d like to get more involved with SIM USA, here’s a way to get the conversation started!
A week ago, SIM USA hosted the Lausanne Movement’s Global Leadership Forum for International Student Ministries (ISM). Nearly one hundred leaders gathered at our Global Mission Center here in Charlotte for the purpose of connecting influencers and ideas for global mission.
Then at the end of that week, last Saturday, the world lost a special young man by the name of Nabeel Qureshi. Cancer led him into the arms of Jesus at the age of 34, but it’s the years preceding cancer that make this story so compelling.
These two stories tie together in a significant way.
We love this video of our International Director, Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko, expressing the vision of SIM. Many of you have prayed for us and encouraged us over the many years we have been privileged to serve with SIM, and we hope this video will refresh your vision and encourage you too!
These past few weeks, hurricanes have made a dramatic and terrifying presence into the lives of many. The destruction of Harvey and the potential of Irma have been all over the news. If we’re in the risk areas, we need to prepare and plan wisely and PRAY for God’s protection, and His provision in the aftermath.
For families experiencing a situation of harm to their children, it may be similar to life in a hurricane. Emotions surge like the wind and the waves in a storm. Despite all the preparations made, the storm can strike and cause much damage. Sometimes, all we can do is keep our eyes on Jesus as the storm rages around us. (Matthew 13:22-33)
This prayer from Scotty Smith, with the title Hurricane Watching Anxiety
was a huge blessing to me today. “We own our fears, state our worries, and run to you, Father, on this angst-producing Friday. Thank you for promising to catch every care we cast in your direction. Thank you for speaking the “good word” we need when anxieties weigh our hearts down. Thank you for giving us consolation when anxiety is great within us, like it is right now.”
Praying in the path of these hurricanes.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:4)
The vision of SIM is “to see a witness to Christ’s love where He is least known, disciples of Jesus expressing God’s love in their communities, and Christ-centered churches among all peoples.” This vision includes the recognition that God cares for and calls others to care for those who often cannot care for themselves, the vulnerable (Psalm 68:5). Continue reading
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8, NIV)
We are thankful for the opportunities God has given us to use the gifts He’s given us in His service over the past few months, and are excited to share more about it with you! Continue reading
Peabody Hotel adventure!
Jess and Hilary
Julian and Jessica!
baby hippo at Memphis Zoo
We love it when we get to visit with our own kids, and with special MK friends we’ve known and loved over the years. Memorial Day weekend was a special combination of people: as one of our MK friends from Dakar Academy was married in Memphis, Jacob and Katie were there for the wedding, and we got to spend time adventuring with the Martin family! (You may remember Sam Martin was one of our boarding home kids in our first term in Liberia– it’s been a joy and a privilege to spend time with his family over the years!) I loved seeing the giraffes and the baby hippo at the zoo, and the kids told use we HAD to see the Lego sculptures– they were amazing too! The weekend was HOT, and a storm knocked out the power for over 20 hours, but it just reminded us all of life in West Africa! It was fun to see Jessica, Hilary and Massaly– all part of the D.A. Class of 2010 with whom we spend many hours as their sponsors! Much joy, and much love, and we are thankful for the time!
Joey’s current assignment with the U.S. Navy is in California, and we got to spend some vacation time visiting him! He met us in San Francisco, and we had a several-days whirlwind tour of many California sights. We loved what we saw, and most of all loved spending time with Joey in his current home. Family is important, and time together is precious, and a little bit harder to come by these days!
If you’d like to see some of Dave’s photos from our California trip, here you go!
SIM needs competent, godly leaders, and is committed to equipping them for the task. We’re a few years into a Leader Development program that matches leaders with mentors in a two-year process, with the aim of reaching leadership at all levels throughout the SIM world. Leaders together with their mentors select a series of growth areas to be pursued over the two-year mentoring period.
Research has shown that stand-alone leadership training events are unlikely to have lasting impact. “Developmental Job Assignments” (aka throwing into the deep end!) are found to be much more effective. But the greatest impact comes when these two methods are combined with intentional mentoring that gives consistent support, challenge, and assessment.
To that end, I (Dave) was invited to join with a group of about fifty SIM leaders and mentors from all around the world to kick off a new two-year cycle. I’m off to a great start with my mentor, looking forward to much growth as a leader, and looking ahead to the day when I can serve other leaders as a mentor myself.
Malta is perhaps best known as the site of Paul’s shipwreck as recorded in Acts 28. Besides its relatively central location to SIM staff worldwide, this rich history provided the backdrop for the kickoff event. A local pastor brought the group into the present by sharing stories of God at work in building the church there today.
Please pray for me and the others as we walk through life together over the next two years.
You can view Dave’s photos from Malta here!
Scripture is filled with references to God as Defender of the vulnerable. But sometimes, the responses from churches when someone asks for help in an abuse situation do not seem to reflect His character.
Almost every week I spend some time reading articles on this blog. It’s eye-opening, and it’s also very painful. It’s hard to think about these things! But we really need to if we are going to understand some of the dynamics, and step up to truly protect those who are vulnerable.
The focus is broader than the safety of children, but it seems that many of the dynamics are the same in situations involving children.
A Cry For Justice