Category Archives: Leadership Development

GREAT TIME AT YOUTH!!

Currently we are teaching the Youth at our church on how to be a true hero!

What's up at church

We had an awesome time at Youth inC. this past Friday. We danced, Worshiped and saw what affects drugs can have on our bodies and what it does to us over periods of time.

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Thank you Christiane for showing us why its cool NOT to do drugs!

Jean-Claude Nell

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Active Citizenship – Is our right of speech zensored by modern-day pillory?

This post is about a volunteer who tried to find an emergency foster home for a child in need and got negative reports in national newspapers instead.

This morning, before taking our kids a bit out into nature, we sat in Wimpy (a south African franchise serving excellent coffee and breakfasts) reading a newspaper this morning, or at least trying to, while keeping the kids relatively behaved.

I was shocked, to say the least,  to read an article in the Saturday Star how one persons facebook post about requesting a save place for a child in need makes (negative) front page news.

It’s definitely safer to only post about your lunch and share photos of kittens on facebook. This world is spinning out of control and if you call a spade a spade you get publicly displayed as evil? It scares me. Who is with me that we need to make sure the right of freedom of speech stays protected as long as we are not calling ourselves a dictatorship?

Here’s the low down:

The Children’s Act states that if a child needs to be placed in a save place outside their own home the court must consider a report by a
designated social worker about—
(a)
the cultural, religious and linguistic background of the child; and
(b)
the availability of a suitable person with a similar background to that
of the child who is willing and able to provide foster care to the child.
(2) A child may be placed in the foster care of a person from a different
cultural, religious and linguistic background to that of the child, but only
if—
(a)
there is an existing bond between that person and the child; or
(b)
a suitable and willing person with a similar background is not readily
available to provide foster care to the child
also the Children’s Act states that if the child needs to be cared for by non-relatives, the caregiver must preferably be of similar ethnic and cultural background.

This is a HUMAN RIGHT in South Africa.

Diversity is important. Exposing children to a multicultural environment is an important part of education. In time of trauma, however, what a child needs most is stability, not a new challenge.

If an Hindu child needs a safe place, it would be kind not to place her in an environment where there’s nobody speaking her language and on top of being taken away from a familiar environment she would have to deal with a different culture.

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Should have rather posted a puppy picture instead of asking for a safe place for a child in need …


So if a volunteer linked to a Helping Hand Organisation (but not even the organization themselves) posts the request by a mother in need for an Afrikaans child to be placed in an Afrikaans safe place, is that according to our laws? Definately. You can find the Child’s act at http://www.dsd.gov.za/index2.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=++%0D9&Ite

Now tell me, why do I read in the Saturday Star there is a “National Outcry” because this volunteer has exercised her right of speech and did just that, asked for a save place where there would be people who speak the language of a six year old girl in need?

Do we deserve to have our facebook requests posted in the news to scare the public to not speak their mind lest the same happens to them? Just asking?

Only if we do not take the time to study our nations laws and exercise our rights will we feel victimized and helpless. Passivity leads to depression. I’d rather go down fighting for what’s right then to sit and mope about what’s all not the way it should be.

When a whole nation came together for peace-prayers and started to courageously call out “We ARE the people”, the communist dictatorship in East Germany quietly packed their bags. What an exciting time that was in my life!

I have seen a communist nation regain it’s freedom because almost every single citizen chose to lift their voices, peacefully, and in the end prayer meetings in every town and village were attended by virtually everyone.

The communist system in East Germany was brought down by the millions of feet of the little people.

East Germans told their government: Hey, We ARE the people, not the enemy!

I am every Sunday amazed at how the City Press is publishing tweets of whoever does not obey the rules of political correctness.It sure feels like modern day pillory. Do not speak your mind too loudly, they might publish your name, picture and email address in the Sunday Paper!

I used to think the press was there to keep the government accountable, not to make sure the people all speak newspeak.

Zama Khumalo, 24, told his 493 friends on the social website he would send out an invitation to a “Big Black Braai” to celebrate the deaths of 42 white children when their school bus plunged into Westdene dam, Johannesburg, on 27 March 1985.

This is a country of Human Rights. There must be an outcry when a journalist uses facebook to invite people to a BBQ to celebrate the death of a busload of school children, yes.

But for someone to look for an appropriate foster home in an emergency situation to be nailed as “having the nerve” to ask for an ethnic and linguistic appropriate care giver in accordance to the South African Children’s act, that needs a public outcry of a different sort: Protect our rights of speech.

I do not know if facebook was actually designed to make it easier for the clandestine services of governments to keep an eye on what people are saying or doing. Maybe it is better to use it to publish pictures of our pets. There is no guideline saying: Please do not post anything emotionally charged, the press might judge you about it. Nationally.

All I am trying to say, the scale seems to be tipping dangerously creating a society in which we all speak hushedly and common sense diminishes. Please friends, do not let that happen.

All South Africans fare better when people, in a friendly way, keep reminding the government that they answer to the people and not the other way around.

One week closer to achieving your dream – Thursday: A ride on a steam train

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Steven at two.

Hello again to One Week closer to Achieving your Dreams! Today I want to think about how to keep our lives beautiful.

My little boy Steven was 2 years old when somebody gave him a kiddies plate. Now my son is growing up in a loving home and has a big, loving, sensitive heart. We hadn’t exposed him to any violent entertainment yet as we do not deem it age appropriate.

After receiving this plate he got very sad, and then asked me: Mom, why would they give me a plate with a devil on it? Don’t then know that I do not like the devil? …

The plate he got was a Ben 10 plate like they are common in all stores, that little boy with all the dragons and monsters. Well my baby boy did not enjoy it and he simply did not want to use that plate. If you think about it – why would anybody make anything violent for a child? A small child’s soul is pure and lovely, may we not soil it with evil things and even pay money for it.

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Taking Steven on a steam train ride on one of the oldest steam trains in the world – the Harzquerbahn in Germany.

Little children have such a good understanding of what is right and wrong, and they want nothing more than to be loved and protected, and love you back. Can we try to keep that child-like innocence?

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The train goes up the Harz mountains to the highest peak north before the North Pole, the Brocken…
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Every little boy should be shown how a steam engine works … well I enjoyed the explanations myself as a little child. My dad was a great technology enthusiast who had a knack for making facts come to life!
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On top of the Brocken
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Click on this picture to find cool info about the Brocken, it’s history during the cold war and its heavy role in German literature…
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Exhausted on the way back…
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Back home …

Harzbahn (50) Harzbahn (91) Somebody once said it is never too late to have a happy childhood.

It’s never too late to clean up our ambitions and lives for a lighter, clearer way of doing things!

It is time to say to Satan: don’t cramp my style. Go to hell. –

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This train I took many times as a child, either to go visit my grandmother or to go skiing in the mountains…

Today is a good opportunity to allow God to show you which nasty things you are unnecessarily toting around on the journey of your life. Achieving our dreams is possible if we travel light.

Joh 10:11  I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

Never forget, that Jesus is the one who loved you so much that He would trade His royal rights for your shame, so that you can walk upright again.

There is no plan B with God, no matter what happened in your life, His plan A is still valid and there for you to go for.

Sometimes we are so shrouded in shame and guilt, and negativity, that we give up on our passions.

Maybe you know somebody who has no food tonight, but rejection has damaged you so much that you don’t dare cooking for the poor person. You are afraid they might not like your food! Well, give that rejection to God, and go buy some buns and butter … do not ever let the past steal the joy of the future.

Stop eating from satans plate of shame, rejection, hate and bitterness – refuse them like my child did. Give this day to Jesus, He loves you so very much!

I included pictures of a day trip to the Brocken mountain with my dad. I hope you enjoy the journey. I have always loved train rides.

 

 

 

 

Create in me a heart so

full of love that it reaches

each person I meet and

brings out their goodness

Create in me a heart full of joy

so I can lift up those who feel

they have no hope

Create in me a heart full of forgiveness

so I can be free to give peace and understanding

Create in me a heart that grows

in love for you each day

Most of all Jesus

Create in me a heart

which desires only you

and to do your will

 

by Cindy Tuttle

One week closer to achieving you dreams: Tuesday Night

Hi, how was your day?

I am talking to you this week about understanding our purpose in life and reaching our goals.

Have you made your list of five things you need to do this week yet?

Remember, to be successful in God’s eyes, we need to walk the righteous path and be a blessing to the land we are in.

And as always – at least in my little life – whenever I decide on driving this or that and follow up some good resolutions, a lot of unexpected things go wrong. Today I have received 3! detrimental news that have the potential to knock me into perpetual depression. If you think I am trying to write a fluffy little one week devotional for spoilt upper class western moms, you are mistaken. I live in Africa, work for an NGO (so definitely no upper class) and I am dealing with more daily trauma than most of my comfortable friends back in Europe. Add to this the daily potential for rejection as “stranger”, the high expectations we face as pastors, the daily violence in Africa and the ever-increasing gap with my overseas friends and family who do hardly understand the daily challenges of life in Africa, and you end up with a cocktail of emotions! Today I was asked by our worship leader at church to play some violin for a DVD recording in May. Geez, I basically haven’t practiced since the children came along as it takes much concentration and small children want to touch everything all the time! When Steven was small I still used to give some lessons, but by now totally gave up for lack of time and babysitter!

Any other time I would have said, sorry bro, but I can’t see how I am gonna do this. But this is challenge yourself-week, so whoppa, I am trying … gonna try … still trying to catch my breath from the horrible event this afternoon which for privacy sake I wont be able to discuss.

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Steven dancing away at a live concert at the sea promenade in Binz.

And a journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step – and it takes about 3000 little steps to walk 1 kilometer! The little steps we are taking this week serve us to come closer to where we want to be in the end.

Psa 37:5  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Psa 37:6  And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

Psa 37:7  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Have you seen people prosper because they use evil ways to get where they want to be? God encourages you not to loose hope although it might seem you

Psa 37:8  Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

Psa 37:9  For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

We believe that God knows where you come from and how you got here. We should not think that because the wicket thrive for a day, (some decades, more realistically) it will be good with them forever, or that because the righteous seem to suffer more, their end wont be better.

Go your way steady and upright and you will arrive at a wonderful place.

Was it tough getting that first thing done today? For me, staying away from sugar is big. Sugar makes me big, right? So for a happier self one needs to cut out stuff that makes happy? Seems tough enough. So I decided not to go to Woolies because they have that delicious chocolate mousse which I love so much. Guess what, now Pick n pay has it too. So how do you avoid temptation. Buy a banana instead. Something has top click in place in our minds to create those enzymes that give us so much drive that we do not need civilized drugs such as sugar and chocolate. I am not against them – but healthy eating is a big stepping stone towards success.

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At the Stortebeker festival, a huge open air musical on the island of Rugen.
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My son will never forget the live show of the life of Klaus Stortebeker, a righteous sea adventurer who revenged the poor and oppressed.
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To offer such experiences to our kids, it takes a lot of planing!

Stortebecker (35) Stortebecker (125)Today was all about planning. We have to plan our lives or time will just happen to us and we will be surprised by how fast all of this is over.

Earlier this year we celebrated my son’s birthday. We have had 364 days since his last one to prepare for today. Let’s just say things are not as easy as they should be. As parents we want to do what is best for our child. We want them to grow up happy and be confident, productive members of society.

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First Birthday Party’s Choo Choo cake

I can say confidently that it is easier said than done. If it takes this much work just to get a birthday party right, I can’t imagine how I am going to help him succeed at school and find the job of his dreams?

Even for a 4 year old, a birthday party needs to be perfect. The weather must be right; food must be prepared at perfect specifications – Steven knew that he wanted a cake in the shape of acastle, so mama searched on the internet how to best get that right.

You even have to make sure you have gifts and activities for the people who will be attending. Who knew? I always assumed the only person getting gifts was the birthday person. But all the friends at school gate cake and favour packs and the kids visiting us at home as well. Plus Steven wanted a piñata, you know those things that you hit and then sweets come out.

Even a cheap birthday party is expensive. This year we couldn’t afford to invite all church families like we did before. What I am trying to say is, it is really important to discuss your kid’s birthday parties when you are doing your financial planning.

My husband and I have done everything we can to try to make my son’s birthday party one he will never forget. We made all the arrangements, set appointments, made invitations, and bought gifts. A lot of  energy for a few hours out of one day. There is urgency, excitement, and nervousness all happening within me at the same time.

Planning:

If we can do this for our kids, why cant we do this for other areas of our own life as well? I can personally attest that I didn’t have a problem investing in my son’s dream. I have tried to make the planets align and let me tell you that is not easy. But when am I going to start investing in my dreams, my future?

Am I making the right arrangements to reach the heights and the depths I want to go? Am I setting the right appointments with people who will help me grow? Am I inviting the right people into my life?

No, I am not? So, it is time I started to plan my own party of success.

How about you?

Have a blessed night, Christiane

Good night song

One week closer to achieving your Dreams: Monday Morning

Without having a plan, we’re not going anywhere, right? I am originally from Germany and came to South Africa 8 years ago. Contrary to what BBC documentaries want to make you believe, Germany is a wonderful, beautiful and creative nation. These days it takes careful acts of planning to go there – from saving up money for airplane tickets for a family of four, to drafting an itinerary, booking accommodation, planning as to not miss highlights like festival I want to attend …

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Beach Baskets at the Baltic Sea in Germany offer shelter from wind and some privacy when tanning …
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Fishing Boats in Sassnitz, isle of Rugen, Germany
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Sassnitz, Baltic Sea, Germany

This week I want us to try and take a closer look at our own life’s story.

My blogger friends are people who already work hard to get closer to where they want to be – whether it is by developing a writing routine to hopefully become a published author, or blogging about their travels, craft projects or history. Well done you guys!

The dreams God put inside of your heart sometimes need a bit of encouragement.  This week I want to try and encourage you to notgive up and achieve the best you can, to reach new levels and make dreams come true. Maybe I can even help you to assess if you are still on the right track getting to where you want be.

Monday Morning. Wow. Yawn. Early in the morning at gym they put on the Black Eyed Peas song “if we could party all night and sleep all day, life would be eeeeeeasy”…

Hello, we can’t. Somebody ‘s gotta earn the bacon.  My husband Andries and I have got two small boys, 1 and 4, they do not allow us to sleep in, ever! Whatever makes you get up early everyday, work, kids, love to hear the birds, thanks for tuning in and I hope this will be an inspiring week of daily devotions for you.

Without a destination, we will not go anywhere. Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Without hard work, the best destination will always stay far. You love looking at celebrities, we all admire what they achieved. Oftentimes the story behind success is that of hard work and personal discipline.

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else. Monday morning is the perfect time to ask God to help us go the right way.

Let us listen to our heavenly father’s loving recipe for success and well being.

The bible text I am going to share from will be from

Psalm 37:1  A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

Psa 37:2  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

Psa 37:3  Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. (go after righteousness)

Psa 37:4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

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Binz, Baltic Sea … a place I love taking my family to!

That is my portion for today.

First of all, it does not help our personal development to be envious, jealous, of anyone who came by their success by means of dishonesty. Their glory will be temporary only. So don’t even think about bribing somebody to get a shortcut. Jealousy is not a good thing.

On Monday, we are planning our week. What do you need to achieve until Friday? Are there deadlines at work, assignments to complete? Personally? A friend you haven’t called in a while? A healthy eating plan you want to follow? Quality time with your child?

Remember the Psalmist talks about trusting God. and do good; and dwell righteously in the land.

In the Light of this, I am challenging us to write down 5 realistic things you need to complete this week and ask the Lord to help us find the strength.

My goals for this week will be: 1.cut out sugar from my diet, 2.make a meal for a lonely person, 3.do a special outing with the children at our preschool, 4. find time in the evenings to repair things and 5. practice violin (edited)

The way we react on challenges in our life shapes us – I’ve reacted lately by chocolate .. if you know what I mean… I need to put a stop to this.

What are your immediate challenges you know you need to tackle better now than later?

Take a moment to write down your challenge for the week.

BINZ SPAß (23)Come back tonight to stay inspired for your week of purpose!

Thank you, heavenly father, that your plans for our life are amazing. Help us to really make a difference this week, and not let precious time be wasted. Help us make this life count for something!

Christiane

How is that Bucket List doing?

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Alien Pinata I made last year for Steven’s Toy Story themed birthday. It’s his birthday month again and I so hope I will somehow find the time to make a unique pinata again. Gee, there will always be trauma, and people in need, but Steven will only turn 4 once in his life.

Update on my 2013 Bucket List

What a treat to quickly sneak in some blogging after an eventful week! This week was stuffed with happy moments, from finishing the new curriculum for the preschool to drafting the choreography for our Anti-Rape hip-hop drama, to hosting a trauma seminar today and finishing the planning for tomorrow mornings sunday school.

Now I want to quickly keep you in the loop on how that Bucket List thing of mine is doing.

My Bucket List 2013 – things I hopefully manage to achieve and experience.

As they happen, I will include links to what I was able to do in this regard right under each item. They might link, if fitting, to my other blog “Traveler’s Log” if it is about going places.

People Stuff

1. Meet new, interesting people

02.03. Organized a Trauma Counseling Seminar with Weynand and Barbara Louw which went down very nicely today. Really sweet and competent couple who have seem to traveled the ups and downs of life themselves and are definitely qualified to talk about the topic. Good stuff. Looking forward to maybe walking and working closer together in the future. Our people are definitely better equipped now to deal with the many traumatic situations we face in South Africa.

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A picture of a male lion (duh) I got really close to. Find out more about my travels at my traveling blog! Click lion …

4. Learn how to speak Venda

Why local languages are important

5. Publish stuff, get back into public speaking (after and with little kids … who wants to Au Pair?)

February: Started to speak at a Woman’s camp together with my husband again. Been asked to publish. Have written a drama and choreography for the Rape Ape campaign.

6.Network and connect. This lone ranger needs to join hands with like-minded passionate Christians.

Not an easy one. Been asked to leave a much anticipated meeting of national leaders in the first five minutes because apparently my little kids were a nuisance. We were late, due to a crisis back at the church, someone had just lost a pregnancy. You do not leave hastily at a situation like that, saying: Hey, our pastor will be cross if we arrive late at a meeting 500 km from here? So we drove fast, and the kids needed to stretch their legs after a5 hour drive. I don’t blame them. They would have settled under a table with colouring books eventually. But so I had to spend the two days outside – although fully prepared with national pressing issues researched and questions ready… I might want to network with people who appreciate the effort to drop everything and come a long way to see them?

9.Have a good vacation with the kids, where the cellphone use is limited to the lesser moments.

Money is a big issue here, and also to have a trustworthy person who can stand in while we are gone. You can’t believe the amount of trauma happening in a relatively small town and how much a pastor is the first place of help for many people to run to.

10.Host a special event at church. Don’t fear the no-sayers. Not even if they get up and leave if you come on stage.

02.03. Trauma Counseling Seminar, done. Wonderful! It gave many new impulses to many, changing the mindset away from the mystical towards clearly defined roles and approach.

11.Go to Germany and see my family. They deserve to see their daughter, grandchildren, sister, once a year.

Again, money. Should do a video audition to play a small role in a South African drama… I can do it, I know that.

12.Make a lot of money so I can be more helpful to those who lack around me. A prayer and a handshake just doesn’t cut it in Africa. Work towards creating a sustainable structure for helping others.

Many single moms in the African community have to put their children in less than acceptable creches to be able to work in other peoples homes as maids and nannies. This grieves me beyond words. To pay 200 Rand a month, when you earn 1200 R a month, to put your baby in a dirty muddy yard among 50 others, with one or two ladies barely meeting your child’s basic needs, so that you can wipe other kid’s noses and wash their dishes? It is not right. I am slowly getting involved with Symphonia Quality education for South Africa and hope this will lead to involvement in helping improve preschool education in poorer areas.

13.Upgrade my preschool Emmanuel Kinderland to profile itself amongst the local nurseries.

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Making jewelry at Emmanuel Kinderland Preschool

February 2013: Besides the Basic music classes and language development program that I designed myself I brought in gymnastics, playball and computer classes for the kids and also designed a wholesome daily curriculum. Like the school on facebook: www.facebook.com/EmmanuelKinderland

14.Go to gym and look like an action heroine.

So far, so good, going to gym 3x a week, spinning, workout, zumba- in the ideal scenario which means baby sitter needs to be in place and although its not during workhours, the church needs to befine. Apparently pastor’s don’t get to have privacy at gym, the office recently sent people over to see us there during spinning class. Hmm. But nevertheless, it is important. See here for why it’s helping me to feel one with the strange world I am in:

Exercise 1

19. Send 100 snapshots from where I am at the moment on Postcards from Chris

follow me on twitter for the postcards @ChrisvanHeerden

Gonna keep you posted. Thanks for cheering for us!

Christiane

Step up and Step in: how can we fight rape in SA?

Hi Bloggers and Friends,I must say I have really had it with all the excuses going on in the country as if abuse of children, women and even men is just a thing of culture. It is not and I am just not going to put up with it anymore.
Today I sat with our churches Youth guys and we are now choreographing a hip hop musical drama including a short talk by a hunky good looking African guy (head boy nogal) about why rape is just wrong. Keep reading this post to get a glimpse at our first attempts on putting the Hip Hop message together!
I have also arranged for trauma counsellor Barbara Louw to come and teach all our cell leaders and volunteers about how to respond to  trauma and how to start the healing process.
IMG_1475 - CopyFurthermore I am pursuing a high impact Self Defense course to run for the whole community, partially sponsored by the church.
I know the big cities have more resources and access to talented volunteers but probably also a higher bureaucracy and protocol threshold.
I do not want to wait till a super polished show comes to our rural areas, so I am going to put together something right now.
And how urgent is the call for equipped trauma counselors in a nation where every third girl under 18 has been subjected to rape or abuse.
Smart talks, brochures or even handing out condoms at schools do nothing to stop the out of control spiral of sexual violence amongst the youth of our country.
I had the great privileged talking and brainstorming with Jaco and Philippa Booyens from www.afteredenpictures.com  who are
currently busy producing the 8 Days movie raising awareness about sex trafficking.
Africa’s medium is music and dancing, and we need to use those tools to expose the “rape apes” for what they are, and to bring civilian courage back so the “good kids” do not look the other way but get involved helping and taking a stand against abuse.
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Talking to youth to please NOT look the other way when they suspect abuse is happening.

Really, it is partially the good neighbours who allow this by looking away.

 

Between 77% and 83% of rapes are committed by someone that is a trusted friend or family member.

South Africa was currently rated by Interpol as the world’s no. 1 rape capital, a woman raped every 17 seconds. That is bad enough but according to the Medical Research Council, more than one in four minors experience physical violence at home daily or weekly and more than one third of girls have experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. Its study also states that 40% of all victims who reported rape to the police were under 18 and 15% were under 12 years old.

Another issue with sexual violence against minors in South Africa is the sexual abuse and harassment that is reported to occur in schools by teachers and other students.

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Rural Limpopo children are currently the most vulnerable population group in our nation.

According to the Human Rights Watch, girls from all levels of society and ethnic groups have been subjected to sexual violence at school in bathrooms, empty classrooms, dormitories, and more.

Police, prosecutors, and social workers have also complained that many incidents of sexual violence in schools are not reported to them because schools often prefer to deal with it internally, thus hindering justice against the perpetrators. The danger of sexual violence in schools has created a barrier for girls to seek education. HRW also reported that South African girls’ school performance suffers after an incident of sexual violence.

I passionately suggest that churches, instead of dancing around with Shofar around a golden ark etc(sorry, something that as a foreigner found quite strange in some SA conventions), unite their volunteer talents and work to produce some kind of Anti Rape, pro humanity, pro values show that could go on tour in SA, or at least in just in their respective communities.

Indifference is a crime just as murder itself. If the church does not step in, I wonder what today’s youth will be like tomorrow.

If we stay quiet, this becomes a habit of our nation, habit forms character – silence just affirms evil. Evil becomes routine. That is NOT my and NOT your South Africa.

Do not look away. Get involved. BE the fathers that protect, the role models, the champions of those girls around you, and STEP IN.
A nation that proclaims to have 85% Christians in its population should cry out in Shame at those statistics.
Andries and I are definitely busy addressing this issue with African pastors as well.
I am totally convinced that we all underestimate the potential of our churches in tackling the rape problem in South Africa.
Yes, 85% of South Africans call themselves Christians and one third of girls under 18 are raped.
That means rapists attend churches and listen to a lot of bla bla, it means church goers know and befriend rapists and say NOTHING and do not step in.
So we need to work together with all churches especially in rural areas to address the problem, outlaw it, mark it as beastly, threaten with eternal hell and legal actions, and make it every christians first and foremost duty to protect the girls, boys, women and even men around them from becoming crime victims.
The call must be step up and step in!!!!

What can we do – what are we doing? A call for churches to be actively involved

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My husband and I build a big jungle gym-castle for our churches kids. A lot of people from other schools came and asked for the construction plans and costs. Churches can mobilize volunteers to do amazing things that otherwise would cost fortunes.In fact, churches are THE experts in raising armies of volunteers who could change the world.

Hi there, dear cherished audience.

The “likes” on a wordpress blog do not necessarily represent the audience we are actually reaching with our scribblings. I am delighted to know a lot of people from the South African educational reform community, as well as interested entrepreneurs, have been reading up on my opinionated evaluation of the trouble with the South African educational system in my previous posts!

Some commented on twitter how a government subsidized free education system could create a sense of entitlement counter productive to the sense of self-responsibility we are trying to instill into the South African public.

That is the whole trouble with South Africa, isn’t it. Entitlement. Offense. Opinions. I love to plainly look at facts. Is the current system working? Definitely not. Is the whole country’s business world struggling because of poorly educated laborers and employees not knowing the first thing about their job? Definitely yes.

Government financed schools and universities granting entry only on performance values and NOTHING else can quickly create a mindset shift towards personal responsibility to perform. If its free, there is no excuse “but we were poor”. It is not as one-dimensional, I know, and I am willing to engage in a detailed process of reform. I grew up in Germany. My parents didn’t have a car until I was 13 and we bought our first TV when I was 14. The German primary school goes only to grade 4. After that, pupils are strictly sorted into 3 different branches. One academic, one more accounting and management focused and one practical one preparing students for practical professions such as mechanics, chefs, service industry. Only the academic Branch leads up to grade 12. More than 50 percent of German pupils finish school at grade 9 or ten to continue training on the job. Only the best get accepted into university. If students fail at exams,  they lose their right to study. This creates a much more performance oriented environment that what I currently observe in South Africa where matric is for everyone and everyone things they have a right to study. In the meantime in the rural areas there is still illiteracy and a general lack of scientific knowledge. 

Hope is available. South Africa is a deeply religious nation, with people’s lives generally circling closely around their church. I have been working for an evangelical, Lutheran Mega-Church in Stuttgart, Germany before. Stable, community-involved, respected. South Africa is, sadly, deeply divided across denominations. I was surprised to discover that every stationery shop (CNA etc) stacks up on Joyce Meyer’s books and Christian movies. On the other hand, the traditional churches seem to have a strong fear of engaging in cooperation with the more, carefully put, lively, pentecostal churches although I have found some charismatic movements here to be more conservative than the evangelical church I have been serving in Germany! But some awesome, progressive minded folks get the goosebumps when my churches homepage mentions things like prophetic words although prophecy is an important biblical pillar of the way God communicates with His people.

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Teaching kids drama in their free time.

Can we put our preferences aside for the greater good? We weren’t born into a denomination, and I love hearing a person’s whole life story before I draft an opinion. There are reasons why some feel safer and closer to God with the sound of a pipe organ and others need the element of dance to worship. Speaking of right and left brained … 🙂

I believe in South Africa and the whole African continent, churches are a crucial factor in future positive development. Churches are able to mobilize thousands, hundreds of thousands of volunteers to massively impact communities. Churches must also engage in fruitful dialogue with the powers that be, to bless, to inspire, to correct. I do not see church as a parallel sunday universe. I see church as the personified body of Christ pouring out blessings over the individual believer, their families, businesses, communities and the country as a whole.

In our church, there are no unemployed people. As pastors we are not greedy with our expertise. We care deeply about the individual and take a lot of time carefully assessing their strength and weaknesses, suggesting and even sponsoring courses for betterment, helping with CVs and job application. At our church, we network with local businesses to connect job seekers with applicable employment opportunities.

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Local High Schoolers cleaning up town as a Youth Group initiative.

This year I want us to concentrate more on blessing the educational institutions in our town. In dialogue with other South African Education Activists, these are some points we find ALL churches should engage in supporting:

NUTRITION. Our children are hungry & can’t concentrate without food

In Europe schools generally provide breakfast and lunch for a minimum fee, children from needy backgrounds or families with lots of kids pay a reduced amount or get the meal free.

We need to put so much more pressure on the government, petitions and all to use OUR tax money for the education system, because in a decade, those kids will be the ones paying taxes. Need to get the government to understand the reasoning: Care for the young generation means eventually caring for themselves too. Yes, I hear the raised flags “do not promote a sense of entitlement”. In my opinion, every child is entitled to food. Rather give out free school lunches than child grants to teenage mothers who use it for fashion items.

It is easy and possible for churches to provide sandwiches for needy kids in a rotation system. Monday NG kerk, tuesdays the Anglicans, wednesdays the Faith church, thursdays AFM and friday the Jesus Freaks. With that amazing variety of churches in any given South African town, the kids would sure get a variety of sandwiches.

Parents also need to be taught about nutrition. I do that about once a year in a seminar at church and regularly in personal counseling. The food quality plays a big role in fighting concentration and behavioural problems as well. Churches can and HAVE TO be a place of practical life-style lessons.

Fotoshoot 019PASTORAL CARE for teachers, parents & learners. Most schools don’t have access

My church www.emmanuellife.org has been sponsoring 2 youth workers in our local high school, primary school and Air Force Base school for the past 5 years. We have done so first through Gateway/Clay (don’t know if you heard of them, excellent program) and now on our own account because the requirements in our community grew very high. All three principals commend us on the measurable difference the Youth Worker makes in the school by having an on-site counselor (drug use gone dramatically back) and free after school programs (Jan is doing Hip Hop and won some national awards with the kids) as well as life orientation classes.

I myself have been actively involved teaching free classes at the local primary school before my babies came along. Now our Children’s Church manager whom I am training is doing that while I oversee our preschool leading 50 children from age 2 to grade R.

What I dream about improving: Giving free motivational sessions to teachers in rural areas. Even with my white Afrikaans teachers I discover the educational psychology is as good as non existent. Varsity seems to have taught only the subject knowledge and not the pedagogics of how to get information across?

Classes are way too big, and most subjects are taught frontally, not via group sessions. Rural schools and even lots of classes here in Louis Trichardt that I witnessed (perks of being a foreigner, you can just ask to come in and learn) do school according to the parrot method. Repetition instead of intrinsic understanding.

Pastors are able to offer once in a while motivation and practical insight away from the plain subject, into the psychologies of learning.

Besides that, of course yes, pastors need to be there to debrief teachers after traumatic events. Many teachers deal with violence on a regular basis, and do not know how to respond to students personal tragedies well.

On March 3rd I am doing a trauma counseling seminar with Barbara Louw at our local church, many teachers will attend.

PARENTING GUIDANCE: Educators need parents who know how to be a good parent

Churches are able to offer good parenting courses. So far I did two on my own, plus I am having a weekly class for young mothers with toddlers, giving tips about early stimulation.

It would be marvelous to connect over those uneccessary denominational boundaries to offer regular parenting courses. We all need support, they just don’t make the children like they used to 🙂 I plan in bringing in La Leche legue as well to start a nursing support group. Post Natal depression is more common than we admit, and it all starts there.

READING SUPPORT: Most effective literacy programmes are where adults read w/ learners

Many churches teem with individuals who would love to get involved at some level. At least in my group of churches a lot of people’s aspirations are towards a place on stage in the praise and worship team. Getting individuals to take responsibility for a class of our multi-racial children’s church deserves a medal, it is not easy. A lot of ladies love going to the old age home, I think it is because it looks sweet and social to arrive with a basket of goods. No problem with that. We need to push a reader-mentorship program and I owuld not like to invent the bike over again. Can’t we have a nation wide, advertised program like that where churches can oversee and support it in their local communities? The better the posters and TV ads, the more volunteers. People do a lot if it makes them feel good about themselves.

LOVE & APPRECIATION for teachers so that they know how important their work is

Yes, churches are called to encourage the community. It is as simple as packing some surprises for the teachers!

AFTER-SCHOOL CENTRES for our children. Parents work & children need to be cared for

Currently busy working on that here in my church. The need is big, the money to employ somebody is little. Again there is a big call for volunteers. If Suzy would do a craft once a week, instead of her ladies craft club she would teach little children? If we could get Pete to coach some cricket on thursdays? …

MOTIVATING learners & their parents to make education a key priority!

Our churches motto this year is “raising the standard. In practically every sermon we can start changing mindsets about sharpening your skills!

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Churches are able to MOBILISE active citizenship & urge all adults to help lead change in education.

Let me know what you think and ask your local pastor to read this post. Please.

A Southafrican Pilgrimage

Come and follow the link below to travel with me to South Africa

and to understand why I chose this place (or dit it choose me) to build our future.

In doing so, the future of the woman and her family the future of the nation are becoming strangely intertwined, because if you consciously choose a nation (not by birth and not by job opportunity) you do that out of conviction. Out of this conviction we want to make it better – we predict the future by creating it.

Right now, we are busy assessing the needs and potential of this country in order to be a voice of inspiration, to wake the sleeping beauties and to strengthen the disheartened knights to build a better South Africa, together.

Read here: —>  A Southafrican Pilgrimage.

Enjoy the journey! I would love to hear from you, especially if you are South African or otherwise passionate about helping to build South Africa.

Why a Bucket List 2013

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The Scenic pathway to some of my dear friends

You can find the final bucket list and it’s step by step fulfilment as a page on top. Today is the day where we are all very aware that another year is coming to an end. Are you a fan of New Year’s resolutions?

Most of my friends brag about how they do not find it necessary to make a promise to themselves which they will only keep for a week.

I don’t know whether it is the German in me – but I am a strong believer in strategic planning. (I think I would have turned out that way even if I had been born in Brazil).

If you can not define where you want to be, what it takes and how long you have to get there, you are leaving your life up to chance.

And chances are, nothing much is going to happen. Believe me, that is a recipe for depression. To live a healthy life, a person needs purpose and progress.

My husband and I love driving together, and we never run out of conversation topics. We have crisscrossed South Africa many times and seeing all the opportunities really gets us excited. This december we found ourselves travelling back and forth on the N1 on several ministry occasions as well as our first date since the kids arrived. Long overdue, it was such a fun outing as we strategized about 2013 and how to avoid getting stuck. I ended up drafting a “stratogram” that will hand over my desk to remind me of priorities. So my new year’s resolution is less a “quit smoking, be kind to aunt Elzie” kind of thing but rather a bucket list of important mile stones that will have to be pushed into place before X can happen. X being the mark on my map of life where I, the eternal pilgrim, might finally find some rest on my journey and establish something that will have lasting value to pass on to my children. I have an exact idea what X is, but learned through experience not to share definitives until the project is well on it’s way. People are so fast to steal ideas and claim them their own! But believe me, it will be mind-blowing.

Finding your feet in a foreign nation kan be a scary thing when you are all by yourself with no handbook to go by. I would recommend the experience to any couple – go together to Japan and live there for a year. Fun. But being the only one from another nation, joining the culture of your spouse, trying to fit into the community that knew him since he was a wee one, is a total different ballgame. Especially if his entire extended family is living in close proximity and your own clan is about 10.000 km further north making it impossible to call for back up. (Really I have seen grown ups play the “I go and tell my daddy” game, especially amongst the Afrikaaners!) I do miss to be able to just visit my baby sister over the weekend and have a good laugh at life together.

Making friends when you constantly have to bridge cultural gaps is not easy at all.

CAlthough I don’t travel in herds … we always take our overseas guests on an Elephant Safari!)

Over tea with lady friends I have found myself wondering “what do you girls talk about with your other friends? I wished I could be a tiny mouse and observing how you do this “kuier” (afrikaans for visiting) thing generally. Because what’s happening here is boring me to death. Talking about little nothings, carefully avoiding any fun subjects that could be misunderstood as offensive – is it because I am a pastor’s wife or because this culture tends to generally be more “fluffy” than the German one?

In Germany we do not have “publicly accepted phrases for every occasion” like the English-speaking world does. I learned over the past couple of years that the Afrikaans culture also consists of typical phrases people utter without giving it much thought, because that is what one says at that particular moment. On the contrary, in Germany we usually say something very unique and original that comes from deep within and is really meant that way – and might appear rude to cultures that expect nothing more than a cute compliment.

I tend to take language quite literally, so when the first visitors arrived to congratulate me at the birth of my son Steven, I was confused when the ladies said “jy kan nou lekker pop speel”. (Now you can enjoy playing dolls). My son was born under dramatic circumstances at only 33 weeks. Because South Africa is not a social state, medical care is extremely costly and we were sent home two days later with a struggling, tiny 1.8 kg newborn. Playing doll was the furthest from my mind, his survival was depending on my care and I didn’t feel equipped enough. My husband had to continue working since baby had been only expected two months later. I found myself without a support system and a lot of stress.

Throughout many subsequent visits with other moms of newborns, one of my favorite pastor’s duties, I observed that “jy kan nou lekker pop speel” is really the most used Afrikaans phrase to comment on the birth of a new baby. And no, I do not plan on using it but rather I insist of uttering my very own, thought-through, unique and honestly meant wishes about the new arrivals. I learned, however, that people around here feel more understood if you do paraphrase what you actually trying to say into their usual contest. Use their buzz-words, simple phrases they often use, it wont confuse them that much.

All my serious planning is laid out in my office, and won’t find it’s way into the blog because it’s my work. I however am going to share my successes and learned lessons with you, as time passes.

King Salomon once complained: “Ecc 7:28  Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.”

He realised how difficult it is to find but one good friend among a thousand – and that women are mostly full of little games and to find an upright comrade amongst all of his many wives was almost impossible.

I am thankful for all those people in my life who call me sister and friend, where would I be without you. I also realise that I did experience a lot of disappointment in people who I thought were friends but who would easily go and sell my trust for a lentil dish. But the threshold of a new year is a good place to let go of hurts and forgive and move on. I will forever be trying to see the good around me and I am ready to reach out and risk again. People are precious.

So here is my Bucket list 2013 in no particular order:

1.Continue the search for that rare jewel of special friends who won’t gossip, won’t betray trust, understand the darker side of humour, enjoy life in all it’s nuances and is are inspiring even on an intellectual level.

My husband and I have found that in our position as leaders it is almost impossible to find friends who just like you for who you are without needing you to catapult them into a better position.

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I miss the cultural densitity and intensity of Europe – but bridging worlds is about crossing over and makign one mindset accesible to the other!

Friends who have the drive to be nation changers, the diligence to complete a project, to self-motivate and to be able to laugh about it all!!!! Would give all my earthly goods for that.

2.Increased used of the available media.

You want to change the world – be present in it, add your dot of colour, your vocabulary to it. Lend a helping hand. Entertain!

I want to dare to enter doors that open, especially in the area of radio. In a small town community people will always think you are a stranger, if your grandparents moved here from China decades ago you still stay the Chinese rather than the fellow citizen. So deal with it, make it a plus rather than a handicap. I am from Germany, I tick different, so what. I might see the country with different eyes than you, but I also might love it more than you do because I live here by choice.

3.Network and connect. This lone ranger needs to join hands with like-minded passionate christians.

4.Get my husband’s book published and keep his back free to travel and speak more.

5.Go to the USA and learn from Bill Johnson.

6.Have a good vacation with the kids, where the cellphone use is limited to the lesser moments.

7.Host a special event at church. Don’t fear the no-sayers.

8.Go to Germany and see my family. They deserve to see their daughter, grandchildren, sister, once a year.

9.Make a lot of money so I can be more helpful to those who lack around me. A prayer and a handshake just doesn’t cut it in Africa. I keep handing out food and clothes and money, but without a sustainable structure this is like pouring water into the desert.

10.Upgrade my preschool Emmanuel Kinderland to profile itself amongst the local nurseries.

11.Go to gym and look like an action heroine.

12.Make a movie or at least contribute some good ideas to one.

13.Go back to read my bible more. My wandering mind needs a stable anchor.

14.Do something really crazy I would have done 15 years ago.

15.Bake some stunning stuff. Since baby no.2, there was just no more time nor energy left to bake cakes and cookies. I did make some cool desserts for dinner parties and baby showers, oh yes and some real nice fraisier for march (255)a wedding, and, and …  but didn’t even bake and give away christmas cookies this year. When you can’t make a Sacher torte, make jelly. It’s at least homemade. But i feel it’s part of my feminine existence I shouldnt totally write off.

15 is a good number to stop and post the blog don’t you think?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Of Fairies and Shepherds

Clearing out superstitions and giving practical advise to realise Godly vision

God has placed a very special character trait into South Africans – a creative freedom that has been allowed to thrive in a rather non-restrictive environment. Due to a minimum of legislation around new business ideas Southafricans pride themselves in a unique entrepreneurial mindset. Don’t fight me on this, chaps. If you think Southafrican bureaucracy is stifling, try to just get certified for freelancing in Germany. If you dare to produce anything, be prepared to undergo tedious quality controls and approval procedures this country hasn’t ever dreamed about. I of course still love the German system, if I buy a chair I am certain it won’t break even if used for other purposes than merely sitting on it, whereas an ordinary Southafrican chair might just give in when you get nervous about the stock exchange. But in Germany there is no such thing as a weekend diploma enabling you to call yourself a certified nutrition specialist etc!). The downside of the ease in which people are allowed to open businesses on which a person or even several families will place their whole livelihood is that due to a lack of know how and work ethic, many small businesses are closed as frequently as they are opened, putting many families through trauma of not being adequately provided for.
One of the main needs smaller and medium-sized communities have from their pastors is sound advice for individual business solutions. There is no money for bringing in specialized advisors, and since everybody agrees that without God’s blessing success isn’t likely to happen, the pastor is the one brought in to help and more than often to try to save the business.

What amused me up to a point of annoyance in our many encounters with struggling businesses and farmers is a rather fairy tale like approach many Christians display when it comes to biblical principles.

A desperate business owner will “sow” some money into the church and expect business return to triple this month. A farmer will give R 5000 to a charitable project and expect God to “make it” R500.000 in wins for him at the end of the onion harvest.
Now that might work if there was something like a business fairy godmother handing out magic potions. I have not, however, found scriptural grounds for such an equation.
That mindset is widespread.

People expect God to “bless” their business if they just sow a financial seed elsewhere, regardless of business habits and procedures they use. If it’s not happening, they will start blaming God, the pastor, the church and end up starting their own “ministry” because that seems to be a general “bounce back” route for failed business owners: start “Frickies global ministry” . Not to get cynical here, let me illustrate what I mean.
Take Koosie. Koosie bought a drilling machine, a dowsing rod and a computer with a printer, employed two friends and had some signs printed saying: “yet another boorgat (borehole) by Koosie enterprises”.
He goes to work. Excited over some success in drilling for water Koosie buys a new house and makes a lot of debt. Him and his friends are putting in over hours to get the business to expand and buy another second-hand drilling machine from a scrapyard. The machine gives problems every second day and it takes a third guy to come and fix it. In the meantime Koosies wife takes money out of the petty cash in the office to pay stationary for their boy and some new shoes, and tomorrow she pays the maid from it. None of it ever gets recorded. For a while, the drilling picks up. Koosie’s marriage however suffers because he is never at home. To make up for it, he invests business money into building a dance studio for his wife’s sister who wants to start a ballet school. Before this gets completed, she meets a handsome stranger and heads off into sunset with him. The dance studio can still become a granny flat, but by now Koosies scrap yard machine has gone to meet its maker and business is slow. They will have to send their two young sons away to friends over christmas because there is no money for food or gifts.
That’s where we as pastors come in.

(That’s why we never go away over december by the way, because at the end of the year, lots of proverbial paw- paws hit the fan and we need to come and clean up the mess.)
“Why did God allow this to happen? We bought 2000 rand of clothes for orphans last year!”
Now exactly what the poor orphans have to do with bad business habits I do not know, that’s the fairies department. The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget attributed that kind of reasoning to children under seven years: I behaved good so the apple tree will bring good fruits for me. Children nine years and older already reason that apples will be produced rather from good soil .

We all agree that superstition plays a big part in African indigenous cultures. Christianity historically played a big role freeing people from magical thinking by teaching them to use the gifts God has placed inside them wisely.  People need to be taught how to apply sober reasoning to their decisions which is what Jesus taught: Luk 14:28  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he may have enough to finish it.
Yes, Jesus also taught about the principal of sowing and reaping . However, His famous example of the sower (Luke 8 verses 5 ff) clearly refers to the word of God being sown into our hearts, bringing thirty, sixty and hundred fold fruit in our lives depending on the state of our hearts and the diligence of how we put the word into practice. It does not give us a mathematical equation for donating some money and expecting a multiple return. We are to give funds out of love and concern for God’s kingdom and our neighbour, “so that there might be bread in the house of the Lord (Malachi 3:10)”. And God does promise that faithful stewardship of finances in the area of giving will be rewarded.

But that does not guarantee business success when we implement wrong habits.
There is no limit to the areas of life we touch in our counseling. Dealing with debt, getting a degree, managing your staff better, strategic advertising, time management, getting over past disappointments – all in a days work.  It’s often frustrating to find out that small business owners don’t even invest into a good auditor, and don’t keep track of their money, don’t pay their taxes properly. Are we as churches called to advise in such “unchurchy” topics? I believe if the body of Christ wants to shine a light on this earth it has to happen in all fields of daily life.

I am newly energised with fresh vision if I see the Church changing the way she sees herself and her role in society. Training courses will shift from bible knowledge and information to practical involvement in helping one another and utilizing each other’s experience to serve our communities. Succesful businesses are able to generate funds  used to practically facilitate change in people’s lives and not for buildings or luxuries. Exciting children’s ministry, community projects to aid children’s education and sporting events will be normal part of church life. This way, the communities’ relationships with congregations and churches will become stronger. True shepherding to me means that empowerment of community members will come from the church and not the government.

Shepherds sharpen their tools by learning and opening themselves up for fruitful connection outside the ministry circle.

Shepherds are spiritual fathers and mothers with the expertise of many years in many practical fields. Such skilled leaders will be progressively more called into government meetings and been asked for their advice. That’s what I hope and pray for, a change of this beautiful nation through Christians who take up their responsibility towards their communities and stop waiting for somebody else to “do something about it”. I hope many churches will follow the call and practically start training their members for successful personal, spiritual and professional life.

In the end, the poor and orphaned around us will benefit from Christians who get involved in uplifting their community from a place of success and responsibility, not out of guilt and superstition. They will help because they are moved, not because they hope for an automated benefit for themselves.

So, and now I am going to have a christmas mince-pie.