Becoming Chris Kamalski

"There's a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us" ~Don Miller

Category: Words

A Letter From Maxie.

Maxie truly is, "In Good Company!"

Maxie truly is, “In Good Company!”

May 2013

To All Our Dear Family, Friends, & Partners In Mission…

I am so grateful that God is always with me and that He constantly has the best in mind for me! Every single time, He seems to come up with ways to remind me that I am loved and that He has good in store for me. What I love is that God is really concerned with my heart and cares a great deal that I am cared for.

And it’s in this journey that I’ve come to a place where some change was needed. After being in full-time ministry and community development work for 11 years in some of the rough and painful places in our world, it’s become time for me to take some time out to care for and rest my own soul. A few months ago, after learning of a specific incident involving sexual assault and retributive justice in one of our communities, I realized that my own capacity to address such issues with compassion has been reached and I am in need of some restoration myself.

Right as I was realizing this, I received a wonderfully unexpected offer from my neighbor and dear friend to help her launch a Cape Town branch of a creative party and decor shop called In Good Company. After a great deal of prayer, consideration, and conversation with Chris, along with the full support of Bridges of Hope South Africa, I made the decision to accept this full-time shop assistant role while still assisting Bridges with fundraising and grant-writing on a part time basis, as Bridges continues to pursue becoming financially self-sustainable within South Africa.

I began my role part-time at the end of March while slowly transitioning my full-time responsibilities with Bridges of Hope, and it has already been such a restorative season in the past few weeks. I knew I needed to make this change for a reason and am excited to see what God will make of this obedience in loving myself well. I have realized that sometimes it is okay to take a season to primarily care for your own heart, because you need a well cared for heart to truly take care of others sustainably. I am certain that stepping out of full time ‘community development or missional work’ does not mean that I will not get the chance to be a part of some awesome stories of transformation in this coming season. And yet I also know that this is not the end of my work, but rather a different season to step into with joy!

I have already had some wonderful realizations about not only about myself but also towards what is stirring and growing in my heart as I look towards the future. Thank you for walking with me into this new season, and for partnering in encouragement, support, and tangible resources for Chris and I. I look forward to sharing stories of this new adventure with you!

Grace and peace friends,

Maxie Kamalski

P.S. I recently wrote an article for EKerk, an online South African teaching ministry, where I reflected on some of these personal themes in a more general way. Entitled, “Love Your Neighbor As You Love Yourself,” you can read it here. We sincerely hope it blesses you in your own journey of transformation.

P.P.S Head to Facebook for an album showing off the new shop!

Show Me How [60* Second Field Stories].

The degree of interest in authentic discipleship unto Christ so excites me!

The degree of interest in authentic discipleship unto Christ so excites me!

A Season Pondering Discipleship Unto Jesus…

Due to wonderful feedback on our new format, here are 7 points on our work of mission with Bridges of Hope.

  1. Head to Facebook for images from February entitled “Show Me How.”
  2. Chris has begun coaching the Community Development staff men weekly, mentoring them personally as they facilitate After School Programs & Community Health Evangelism (CHE) development training. Currently, we are reading “In The Name of Jesus” by Henri Nouwen.
  3. Maxie completed a beautiful prospectus for Bridges of Hope which will be instrumental in applying for and securing local South African corporate social investment funding.
  4. At least 4 local church communities in the Franschhoek valley have expressed commitment to raise mentors for each one of our 55 Academy students. Chris anticipates launching the Bridges Mentorship Project in early winter!
  5. Our international director, Susan Wadley, presented a powerful seminar on “Overcoming Shame & Abuse” to staff & students that resulted in substantial dialogue about this important topic in South African culture.
  6. Two Academy girls (Gr. 11 & 8) expressed interest in baptism during Easter as a public declaration of their place in God’s family. God is alive & at work in our student body!
  7. A growing sense of unity as “child mentors” is building between Orphan & Vulnerable Children and After School Program facilitators as Chris trains them in discipleship & listening skills each Friday.

Do service delivery protests actually work?



We drive these streets weekly!

We drive these streets weekly!

There was a really important opinion piece in Cape Argus a few days ago explaining why service delivery protests in Philippi (one of the communities in the Cape Flats we work within) simply don’t work. We literally drive these streets weekly. When the lights were destroyed a few weeks ago, they put up temporary Stop Signs, which seemed like they should have just been left there. Interesting, no?

The money quote:

“The city spends upwards of R80 million a year repairing or replacing vandalised and stolen basic services. Ultimately, the communities themselves must stand up and make it clear that they will no longer accept the destruction of their shared services. We have to challenge & change the culture of destroying public services in South Africa. Until we do, we can only hope to inch our way forward in the delivery of basic services”

(Geordin Hill-Lewis, writing in the Cape Argus newspaper about Philippi  service delivery protests, the communities we work with in the Cape Flats)


When Death Dies.

Lent crescendos with the drama of Holy Week as we are literally invited to walk with Jesus unto his death.

Lent crescendos with the drama of Holy Week as we are invited to walk with Jesus unto his death.

Download “When Death Dies” to guide your Holy Week meditations here.

“Holy Week, the seven days before the feast of Easter, from Palm Sunday morning to Holy Saturday night, is charged with meaning. It is a microcosm of Jesus‟ public life seen in bas-relief. All of its components are there–the population at large, the temple priests and their concern for orthodoxy, the prophetic words of Jesus and the political concerns of Roman officials for the social upheavals they feared could come from them, the arrest and isolation of Jesus, and the fears and confusion of His followers. Condensed into one week, all these elements in the life of Jesus are laid bare for all to see. It is a dark week, a week heavy with the intensity of the drama among them.” Joan Chittester

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24 lays bare for us the reality that the death of death actually brings forth life and resurrection for all to taste. Reading through the Gospel narratives of the last week of Jesus‟ life, time slows down, the frenetic events leading to the crucifixion of Christ increasingly being laid bare for all to witness, no detail spared. It‟s as if Jesus was deliberately setting us up for the mystery to come: a broken and scarred body, defeated in front of all, actually initiating the influx of life itself. As Gungor mournfully sings, “Like the waters flooding the desert. Like the sunrise showing all things. Where it comes flowers grow. Lions sleep, gravestones roll. Where death dies all things life.” (When Death Dies).

From the heights of praise echoing through the streets on Sunday, to the betrayal of close friends on Thursday, to the crushing weight of despair on Friday, to the silence of grief on Saturday, Holy Week crescendos and falls through the hours, simultaneously the pinnacle of hope and the pit of hopelessness. Through it all stands Jesus resolute, unwavering in his willingness to suffer unto death so that death itself may die.

The writer of Hebrews gives poetic language to the weight of this week, exhorting all to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful man, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Hebrews 12:2-4).

Holy Week is a crescendoing collection of days built one upon the other, set apart from the other 51, for the express purpose of celebrating the death of death, once and for all. For it is only when death dies, that all things live. Welcome to When Death Dies, 3rd Place. The hour is now upon us. A kernel of wheat is falling to the ground, dying for all to live. The harvest of seeds is coming, all things alive…when death dies.

Jesus will die, yes, but not only. There is more than death to come. All in all, it is a week that brings us face-to-face with the great question, why must this happen? What is all this suffering about? But deep down inside of us, we already know what the life of Jesus and the days of Holy Week confirm: there are some things worth living for, even if we find ourselves having to die for them as well.” ~Joan Chittester

Download “When Death Dies” to guide your Holy Week meditations here.

Regarded As Better Than Before.

Regarded as better than before indeed!

Regarded as better than before indeed!

10 sentences on our work of mission with Bridges of Hope that we regard as “better than before:”

  1. Head to Facebook to enjoy an images of our work we’ve entitled “Regarded As Better Than Before.”
  2. Maxie submitted a major grant proposal to KFC (yes, the Colonel’s company!) to underwrite our entire food program throughout Bridges.
  3. Chris & Maxie facilitated storyboards for Academy & Community Development staff, helping set 2013 goals in an achievable narrative context.
  4. Chris was invited to help develop a weekly discipleship training curriculum for 20+ facilitators in our After School Program (ASP) & Orphan & Vulnerable Children (OVC) support groups in the Cape Flats.
  5. Maxie has participated in a Fundraising Boot Camp focused on how to approach & secure South African corporate social investment funds for non-profit organizations. Super helpful!
  6. We hosted a short-term team of 9 young women from Biola University in January who led 3 separate camps for Academy students, alumni, and children from our communities.
  7. Chris has begun chapels for Academy students & staff began under a massive oak tree in mid January, with the theme of “On Me (I Am A Seed)” from Isaiah 61:1-3. We are acorns becoming oaks!
  8. A 40-day reading group of Academy students kicked off on Ash Wednesday, coming around the simple yet powerful themes of growth in “Purpose-Driven Life.”
  9. Chris is prayerfully discerning initial inquiries from several local churches as to how best they can come alongside Academy students in service. A possibility of a South African mentoring network for Learners is emerging!
  10. Maxie was blessed by friends who invited her to receive Level 1 StrengthFinder training this past week for free! We both are becoming certified coaches in this key developmental training!

A Winter Holiday Story.

A Winter Holiday story, Bridges Academy style: The bus arrives to take learners home..

…Academy staff wait to wave goodbye, staring at the ground with an exhaustion a teacher at end of term only knows…

…silly learners excited to see their families again…

…until the bus breaks and we stand around until a 2nd bus comes! #HappyWinterHoliday

Collages are fun!


The open door = Work with Bridges of Hope South Africa in Cape Town!

“Don’t desecrate the land in which you live. I live here, too-I, God, live in the same neighborhood with the People of Israel” (Numbers 35:34, MSG).

Early one cold Autumn morning this week, surrounded by a growing wall of moving boxes, bubble wrap, and the whole of our family’s belongings, I read this short text and our imminent move to Cape Town took on a fresh light. We often nod in agreement with the reality that God is present everywhere in our world, already hard at work restoring all things. Our invitation towards a new life in the Cape (We begin living in Stellenbosch, a university town surrounded by world-class vineyards), with amazing roles (Maxie in Community and Business Development, Chris providing Staff Soul Care and Formation, all while beginning a Global Residency for Bridges Staff and long-term volunteers), among an organization we are esctatic to work with (Bridges of Hope), is almost too much to comprehend. In the past year, we have travelled around the world only to come back again, landing in a city we have long dreamed to live within. Simply stated, God has been hard at work, writing a story too good to be true. We are privileged to jump into that story on June 1st as we begin driving across South Africa towards our new lives in Cape Town. A small part of a much larger story already underway in the Western Cape…we can’t wait to pick up our pens and begin writing as well!

Our wall of boxes has steadily grown these past few weeks, thanks to Maxie’s detailed packing system of greatness!

Our application with Bridges of Hope is almost complete, as we are waiting for a couple final references and a Board interview when we are in Cape Town this coming week. We anticipate joining Bridges of Hope South Africa leadership within the first few weeks of June 2012. As mentioned above, Maxie will be working in the areas of Community Development alongside South African locals working in a variety of townships in the Cape Flats. She’ll empower and help build a holistic community development strategy through Bridges’ Community Development staff. Additionally, she’ll work on the Business Development aspects of Bridges, helping pursue partnership and investment of South African businesses seeking to invest their Corporate Social Investment (CSI) money in Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) ways compliant to South African law. Much more on this mouthful of acronyms soon! Chris will provide Staff Care and Formation for full-time staff and long-term volunteers at Bridges Academy, as well as Community Development teams in the Cape Flats. Additionally, he will help dream up, initiate, and develop a Global Residency that will serve as a missional community hub of training, development, and empowerment for local and international staff and long-term volunteers. We anticipate inviting a small team to participate in shared rhythm of community and development in the Stellenbosch area beginning in early 2013. Again, more on this soon!

Bubble wrap framing.

We anticipate transitioning from NieuCommunities/CRM beginning July 1st, 2012, depending on the finalization of our roles within Bridges of Hope, the completion of our applications/interviews, etc. At that time we will begin inviting our donor partners to transfer their support from CRM to Bridges of Hope, and explain in detail how that process will take place. June 2012 will be the last month our donor partnership will take place through CRM as of this writing (this is subject to change depending on some variables with transitioning work visas however). We have been released and sent with full support from NieuCommunities/CRM, and while sad to see us leave their family, CRM has been nothing but fully supportive, even amped, in what we are stepping into. This whole process has been smooth, a great demonstration of the unity that is possible within the Kingdom of God. CRM has affirmed that Bridges of Hope in Cape Town is exactly what God is inviting us to step into locally in this next season of life and ministry.

Seems like half of our possessions are books. This is a good thing!

We will describe in detail the roles, vision, and nature of our work and mission with Bridges of Hope in a few weeks, as well as our financial and donor partnership needs as we move to Cape Town. In short, we feel incredibly honored to have been invited to propose our own roles with Bridges of Hope directly out of our personal visions/sense of vocational calling. We sense that God is inviting us to live and work out of a greater sense of “This is who I am, and what I am to contribute to the global work of Kingdom restoration taking place in the entire world” than ever before in our lives. We realize how rare this opportunity is, and are incredibly excited to begin work with Bridges of Hope! Regarding financial needs, our immediate relocation as well as ultimate settling in Cape Town will require both increased donor partnership (Ex: Rental costs in Cape Town are at least double that of Pretoria), as we must raise both of our salaries for the foreseeable future. As Maxie works with the Business Development side of Bridges, there is a chance that a portion of her salary may be paid through this fundraising over time, in compliance with South African law, but this is still a ways off in the future. We have been deeply grateful for this season of life, marriage, work, and mission in Pretoria, and cannot wait for what God has in store in Cape Town!

If it makes it to the calendar, it is real. When you read this, we will be driving across South Africa to our new home, life, and work in Cape Town!

The Weekdays of Our Lives/Ordinary Time 2012.

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

Download [The Weekdays of Our Lives/Ordinary Time 2012] pdf here.

We’re Moving To Cape Town!

We're moving to Cape Town!

We really feel that the message we heard while we were in Cape Town was that the best way to really find the right path forward would be to move and then navigate the right channel from Cape Town. Not simply in the ‘Let’s just go with no plan way’ but in the the ‘Lets become part of the community and then out of that figure out how best to serve the city we feel called to’. There really is unlimited potential with unlimited need all throughout Cape Town, and we feel invited into this city to share in the work of Kingdom restoration within and through Capetonians! We’re simply trying to navigate the right step forward. We’d love to share more of what we experienced and heard during our discernment time there in early March to all who are interested. One really rad thing has been that both Chris and I are finding ways to focus on what we feel we need to be about, as opposed to carrying roles that simply do not fit us in sustainable ways. We’re working on getting that written out…We have definitely realized that we really want to be part of a missional community wherever we are in the world.

To learn more about what we discerned while in Cape Town, please click here!

Thanks for walking with us!

Passover Seder at 3rd Place.

Last Supper Table.

Passover Seder.

Passing The Matzoh.

Pouring Out.

Leftover Table.

Love Your Neighbour.

All of these images were pretty dark and blurry due to the low candle light, so I messed around with Colorize Your Photos, a sweet little app I have, and was stunned by the simplicity of what came out!

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