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Friday, January 2, 2015

The LIGHT Shines in the Darkness - A Thankful Heart - 2014 Reflections & 2015 Looking Forward

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

This may be a little belated "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year's," but now that your life and e-mail traffic has slowed down, you should be so excited to read the holiday and summer - and the last year's - happenings in Shannon's life down under in Africa. :) 


I am so thankful and give glory to God for all that He has done in my life in 2014. And thank you so much for blessing, encouraging, partnering, and praying with me! I so appreciate hearing from you and knowing you are my support, even from afar. 

It was a Year of Discovery for me, stepping out to face fears and pursue passions, giftings, and new ministries including discipling future world changers, supporting ministries locally and in Zimbabwe, implementing YWAM Muizenberg’s communications, helping in justice and job creation programs, and using intercession, evangelism, writing, and the arts to further His Kingdom. I grew in my relationship with God and in understanding more of who I am in Christ! I sought the Lord for how He created me and desired to use me, and I was aided with training in spiritual leadership, communications, Biblical worldview, and how the Bible is applicable in today’s society.

It has been a difficult and growing journey in South Africa, but I received healing and freedom where I felt broken! Even though I endured physical sickness and questions this year, I went to Jesus even more (I need further healing, so if you would pray for my health issues? Thank you.)

I’ve faced tight times financially. A few times, I said, “Okay, God I’m looking for Your miracles. And I will count each dollar as a miracle.” You know what, He provided! However He nudged you, I thank you! …In 2013, for plane tickets to visit the States and for a new laptop as mine was at the end of its long life. …Each year to pay taxes and to live and minister in South Africa. In 2014, things were tight; He used seemingly random and unexpected gifts from people and church - thank you! So in 2015 I hope to live to bless others MORE, and I will count these miracles for God’s glory!   

There is so much I am looking forward to in 2015! I desire deeper revelation of who God is and who I am in Him – what I learn, I hope to give to others so they may know Him. I’m excited for opportunities to disciple people in their walk with Christ and for people to meet Jesus and to be transformed by Him. 

Because HE is the LIGHT.

He has Overcome.

He Sets People Free.

And WE carry this Light! 

This is what I am overwhelmed with (in a good way) this season! 

May YOU be given fresh revelation of the LIGHT, who is With you, In you, and overflowing From you. 


Here is what I am writing about from the book of John (John 1:1-5, 9, 12-13, 14, 16-17, 29, 32-34) and is represented in the painting (at the top). It's all just so good.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. …to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. …For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ…

The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! ...And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The LONG Road - A Car Need

Ever since I arrived in South Africa, a CAR has been on my prayer list. I saved and saved, and then taxes hit, and there goes everything I had saved up. 

I live and minister here through relationship based giving (if you want to know what that is, you can read about it here: http://shannonmintz.blogspot.com/p/how-to-give.html), so saving isn't always the easiest thing to do... Nor is paying the bills, but God does the Miraculous every month, and for His Provision, I give Him glory!  

You might ask, "Why do you need a car?"  

Preferably something in better condition than this one... 
Photo Credit: Matti Mattila via Compfight cc 

I've been blessed to borrow friends' cars on various occasions. Having a car helps me to run errands, give rides to those who don't have transportation, and helps to keep me and others safe - yes, safety is quite important to me. Because of high crime rates, I can't leave my home in the evenings (in winter it's dark around 4:30 p.m.) without transportation. I feel isolated, limited in ministry, and "claustrophobic" at times because of this. Another great need is for ministry transportation, which is often an issue here. 

"How much will it cost?"

"...And WHY so much?!"  

I have been advised to spend about $6,000 (U.S.D.) to buy a reliable, used car (approximate varying on vehicle type and exchange rate). Let me just say that even used vehicles are very expensive here as compared to the States. I don't really know why but maybe it's because of inflation, import costs, high accident rates, and break-ins (or just stealing the whole vehicle) - they may have up to 3 types of anti-theft devices! 

I thank you for reading and considering this post and for praying WITH me. And if God is leading you to give, thank you! 

Down the road, I can't wait to share about THIS Miraculous Journey!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Year of Discovery - My History in South Africa Part II

To read the first part of this two part series on "My History in South Africa," please click here: My Beginnings in South Africa - History Part I
 
After careful consideration and prayer, I stepped forward with courage to face my fears and to discover and pursue my passions and new ministries. Here are some of the things I've been involved in during 2014.
 
I remembered that I love to mentor and disciple people in life and missions - for people to understand their intimate value in God, to pursue deeper relationship with the Lord, and to be empowered to living fully for His Kingdom. I've been able to step out in mentoring these future missionaries and world changers. 

I helped to implement Creative Communications at YWAM Muizenberg, as it’s a new thing. I believe God desires to use communications (writing, photography, art, film) through the internet and social media to demonstrate how God is moving in South Africa. It’s also a significant way people can come to know Jesus and to celebrate and love people in my community. I love that people can be valued and empowered through communications!

I started the YWAM Muizenberg blog, where our missionaries write about how God is moving in South Africa!

Justice Doll educates and empowers people to fight human trafficking and global injustices. It's also a job creation program for vulnerable women. I built relationships with the women and supported their director through intercession and helped her with vision and to write communications.

“Awake” is a YWAM ministry a day a week to the community, which is open for anyone to come, the homeless, nonbelievers, and even Christians.  We listen, pray, share Jesus, and love on them. It’s amazing how God draws and touches lives!

Praying & sharing Jesus.
Photo Credit: Bethesda House Staff
I had the opportunity to go with a friend to Zimbabwe to paint a mural on a prison wall, interview and film the ladies at the ministry/job creation program Gogo Olive, share from God’s Word, pray for people, bless, and serve however we could. I would love MORE Opportunities to GO to the Nations to love and bring the transforming message of Jesus. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but it is on my heart for the future.

Working with the ladies at Gogo Olive in Zimbabwe.
Photo Credit: Felicity Davies
I am so thankful for the opportunity this year to receive more training in Biblical worldview, how the Bible is applicable to all areas of today's society, in communications, and in spiritual leadership. It has been an amazing growing experience, and I hope to continue to apply what I've learned in my life! 

I praise God for His hand and guidance this year! He has been so gentle and loving and yet so powerful and healing and bringing freedom in my life. Here's to MORE of Him and His Kingdom revealed in 2015!


*If you'd like to learn more about Youth With A Mission Muizenberg, you can check out their website here: http://ywammuizenberg.org/

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Beginnings in South Africa - History Part I

I first journeyed to South Africa for YWAM's School of Biblical Studies in 2010. I had sold what I owned in the U.S. for the move, and I was blessed to buy furnishings for my new home in South Africa.  Also by God’s provision through people, I was able to pay each month for my expenses to live in South Africa. So far I’ve had Five different roofs over my head during two years. I am thankful for a lovely, cozy, and secure flat and a wonderful flatmate.
 
Our first Life Skills class!
Photo Credit: HAC Staff
After a visit to the States, I arrived back in South Africa in early 2012 and served with Youth With A Mission Muizenberg and Hope Africa Collective but had no idea what that would look like. I began by staffing the Life Development course for people who are unemployed in order that they obtain job skills, employment, and to become financially stable. Approximately 150 people a year have received this training, and many have gone on to gain employment!

I took over the administration and management for the Computer Training course from mid-2012 to 2014. My time at Hope Africa also included coordinating and teaching the Bible Overview seminar, teaching job interview preparation, leading small groups, setting up and running the Registrar and computer Database, etc. I wore many hats! If the staff had a question, they knew I might know the answer or how to fix it. All of the students who attended Hope Africa's programs have been introduced to the Bible and Jesus with salvations during each program! 

People's hearts have been receptive to the work and life of Jesus Christ! Praise God!


*If you want to know what happened next in 2014, click here: A Year of Discovery - My History in South Africa Part II

Monday, July 21, 2014

How Do I Respond To Flight MH17? ...To Tragedy?

I’ve read the news and seen at some of the photographs of the Flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. People’s lives lost like that – all of a sudden. I cannot imagine what people are feeling. 

The Devastation. 

I just dropped off a friend at the airport last night. Second airport run in a week. After I came back from the first airport run, I read on Facebook how guys are throwing something on the road to puncture car tires, Once someone stops, they hijack the car (http://www.news24.com/Travel/South-Africa/Travellers-warned-of-hijacking-risk-near-Cape-Town-airport-20140715). I made that drive alone a couple days after these reports happened. And I just drove there again. Thankfully, a friend hopped in the car so I wouldn’t have to drive back alone. Now I would normally feel fine about it, but the image just couldn’t get out of my mind.  

People were held at knife point on my friend’s street the other day, just two blocks away. I walk there all the time. Stuff happens here. And there are worse stories…

Every time I watch a movie about the Bosnian conflict I get transported back to when I lived there for two months in 2001. And my heart hurts for the people and places I knew. Again, so much devastation – what real people went through. What people are going through around the world, Ukraine, Syria, Gaza, Iraq, in Africa… and many more.

Today isn't about fear for me, but it's about feeling and unfeeling. Nor is it about placing a Band-Aid of words where no words can aid the heart. 

I wonder what do I do with this, this emotion, this hurt, this information? Is this what I do, "categorize it" as "information" so I can just gloss over it and continue about my day? ...Without stopping, without seeing? 

Or I can stop for a second.

I know we all can’t jump on a plane and help, and I don’t know what each of our roles is to play. Nor do I know what my role is. But I don’t what to gloss over what PEOPLE in the world are going through – the injustice –  the need for justice, for freedom, for love and care, to know Grace and Light – to be seen as human, just as valuable as you and me. 

I know I can’t understand what people are experiencing. But please know my heart goes out to you, I cry with you, I sit with you, I hold you. 

And I am silent…

If just for a second.

                                                                
What do you need to stop for …and see today?

My hand may not reach across oceans,
but I can hold the hand next to mine.

Is there a hand near you…
That you didn’t see before…
That you may be called to hold too?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Happened on My Trip to Zimbabwe?

I'm back from Zimbabwe. But for about two weeks since I was down and out with a miserable cold, which made thinking past the end of my nose quite difficult. I've had plenty written, but I've felt this pressure that I've placed on myself. I really didn't know how to express to you WHAT I experienced - in a nutshell - and to do it justice. So "it's" all been ruminating in my head and on computer screen, which I hope has been a good thing.

How The Journey Began
It all started with a casual, "thrown out there" invitation from our visiting friend Ruth to Felicity and me. Something like, "Hey, you can come to Zimbabwe and paint a mural on a prison wall." And we said something like, "Okay." And then - it happened! (There were a few other details involved and prayers, but that's pretty much it.)

So we bought our tickets and then our paintbrushes at the building supply store, packed our bags, and we were off! Zimbabwe is two hops away by plane, and I believed flying the preferable choice considering this country had an "air of adventure" to us and an "air of danger" to our computer and camera equipment.

Who
Felicity and I visited Ruth and Julie Hagen, lovely (as my British traveling companion Felicity says), funny, and energetic sisters from Scotland and the job creation program Gogo Olive, and we had hopes of painting that mural, filming, serving our friends, and being open to anything that came our way. ("Came our way" included watching India Premiere League Cricket, which I can now attest to understanding and actually enjoying.)


Gogo Olive Knitting Workshop
Photo Credit: Felicity Davies
Gogo Olive
Hoping to bless our friends by making a video for their ministry, we filmed, photographed, and interviewed the ladies at Gogo Olive - Felicity, being the photographer/videographer-amazingness, and I, the question asker/interviewer. I think we really just jumped in with both feet and not knowing what we were doing, but hey, it worked out great! I found out that I really love interviewing people. It was amazing to chat with the ladies and hear their stories of life, finding God, and how Gogo Olive has helped them. And I so was humbled to share a devotion with them about being created with value in the image of God and that Felicity and I could pray for them.  

WATCH the Gogo Olive video below, or on the Vimeo website click here: http://vimeo.com/user24100193/gogoolive


Julie Hagen began Gogo Olive by accident, she told me, as she taught ladies how to knit African animals. Somehow, this idea caught on, and these animals are sold around the world today! Seriously, Julie is SO creative. Gogo Olive now employs approximately sixty ladies who are able to provide income for their families. In a country with high unemployment this is such a blessing. As we spoke with the ladies, Chido shared,

"It was very difficult because my husband was not working at that time and difficult in finding rent because it’s very expensive here in Zimbabwe so my mother used to help me with that. And right now it’s easy because I can do the rents myself and I can buy my own things."
Money just to pay for basic needs

And Joyline,
"I like them [my children] to be teachers, doctors, head masters..."

Dreaming that her children have greater opportunities and better lives

I'm interviewing Thulani
Photo Credit: Felicity Davies

Prison - To Be Continued...
Gogo Olive also reaches out to women in prison, who can earn income by knitting and are able to continue with Gogo Olive once their prison term is completed. But I'm being too lengthy in this post... I think I'll devote another post to tell you about my time in prison! 

                                                                                                 

I am so thankful for my time in Zimbabwe and am so blessed by Ruth, Julie, the ladies at Gogo Olive and the prison, and the friends we made and who welcomed us into their homes and lives.

I praise God for how He is moving in hearts and lives in Zimbabwe,

And I believe God is truly using Julie and Ruth! 

Two Scottish young women with their hearts planted in Zimbabwe.

A land and people whom I imagined broken.

But what I encountered was love, perseverance, hope, and joy.

People who love their neighbors.

People who persevere through difficult times.

People who find hope behind prison walls.

People who live joy because they know the author of joy. 

And may they find faith that at every sunset there is a sunrise in the morning.

Sunset over Mountains of Zimbabwe

In Joyline's words, 

"I need prayer to let Gogo Olive be in Zimbabwe
for a long time in order for us widows to get something
to help our children because as widows life is hard.
...keep on praying for Julie and Ruth
because they did a very great, great thing to us.
They didn’t expect it…but because of God’s grace to us
they gave us a job to help us."

Please continue to pray for the people
and country of Zimbabwe.
                                                                                                
And if you'd like to learn more about Gogo Olive,
the amazing knitting ladies, and the animals they knit,
please visit their website at http://www.gogo-olive.com/

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Countdown Zimbabwe! By the Time You Read This I May be Flying... Or Arrived!

Honestly, it's been a whirlwind this week preparing for my Zimbabwe trip! From doing normal things to jobs around the house to preparing and packing, my heart is both racing and I can hardly believe that I am going!

Zimbabwe, where I am going
Photo Credit: Gogo Olive via Gogo Olive on Facebook


I haven't been on outreach - a missions trip - since 2009 in Thailand/Cambodia... Because really, I don't count living here in South Africa as outreach. It finally feels like "home" here - most days. I "own" it [South Africa] more. Cape Town, South Africa is being added to my list of "homes," places that have a piece of my heart - always.

But what would I want to tell you - this late at night - and too anticipatory of tomorrow to sleep? ...Even though I have to get up before anything sane should even be moving.

You see, I have this list of countries I want to go to, and the list just keeps growing. I don't know if it's God or if it's just me, but I get excited to experience new people, places, and cultures! I love history; I love learning about people. And I love seeing people through God's eyes. Really, I am in awe God's great love for people - for people in Zimbabwe - and my heart is interceding for what God might have in store for me, my outreach buddy Felicity, and for the people of Zimbabwe - together.


So, if I could ask you one thing,
could you lift up prayers with me?

- That the love of God would be displayed, that God would be moving, that there would be more of Him and less of me, that He would be glorified, and His Kingdom be known as the beautiful thing WE - American, British, South African, and Zimbabwean... - belong to, which is near His heart, in His throne room, and WITH Him!

Thank you so much! And please, drop me a line if so inclined!
I'd love to hear from you but unsure of my internet use while in Zim.
I will definitely be sharing A LOT when I get back!

Much love & God bless,

Shannon

And here's a few links I wanted to share!