Becoming Chris Kamalski

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

In the Recesses of Your Heart.

David Crowder writes pure poetry. My favorite lyrics from “Our Communion,” off his last CD, “Give Us Rest:”

Love, flawless unrelenting love we can know
Hope, sacred reverential hope starts to glow

In the recesses of your heart where love still flown

Sweet dreams of heaven changing our waking lives
Breath, taken in and bringing what was dead to life

In the recesses of your heart where love had died
Let it rise and lead you cross a great divide

Awake, looking for another way to get back home
Life, resurrected, swallowed death made us whole

In the recesses of your heart where love will grow
Heaven give us roots and wings and lead us home

Oh oh oh oh…

Oh great God give us rest
No more fear from all of this
Oh great God give us rest
Let your light come down on us
Oh great God give us rest

12 Significant Photographs.

Our 2011 year-end report at long last!

Download ’12 Significant Photographs,’ our 2011 year-end report here.

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop” (Ansel Adams). Of all people to suggest such a modest creative output, Ansel Adams’ assertion that there are but a few significant photographs in our lives each year is a metaphor that extends way beyond the crafting of images. 12 Significant Photographs employ captured images from 2011 in the hopes of telling in brief the story of God at work this past year. Grab a cup of Rooibos + enter in!

The Breathtaking Empty Space of an Open Door.

Beautiful Instagram by Maike McNeill of welovepictures fame!

Read the latest [60* Stories] update, “The Breathtaking Empty Space of an Open Door,” here as well.

[The Breathtaking Empty Space of an Open Door]

“Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to those signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead thorugh the breathtaking empty space of an open door” (A Prayer for Major Life Transition in Common Prayer).

As it became increasingly clear in early January that Vancouver was a closed door for us due to timing with visas and role issues, we embraced the reality that this unexpected turn in our next steps brought. A close friend encouraged us to “love the curveballs” thrown our way, returning to God in dependence, drawing near to each other as (relative) newlyweds, and uncluttering our life to create fresh space for desire, calling, and the “things we can’t not do” to emerge out of a return to our core vision and sense of self. In this chaotic process, we increasingly found peace in the reality that as we listened to God and our own longings, the city and Kingdom work currently underway in Cape Town kept rising to the surface.

A world-class, creative, multi-cultural, urban city nestled in the bowl between Table Mountain and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town had long been on our personal radar as a possible destination to raise our family within South Africa at some point in the future. A key realization as we sat with our longings was the fact that many of our key relational networks and partners had existing or fresh work taking place within Cape Town, and that South Africa is where we currently have influence and favor. A deepening desire for fresh, collaborative work to emerge between churches, non-profit organizations, all leaning towards the empowerment and holisitic formation of South Africans throughout the Western Cape and beyond have only grown upon our return to South Africa these past few weeks.

Simply stated, we are deeply excited about the relational, vocational, and collaborative possibilities that reside within Cape Town, and feel a growing sense of calling towards the city, to the point where we must follow Abram’s lead and “go to the land where God will show us” (Gen 12:1). A few partnerships we are listening alongside:

  • Bridges of Hope, a key global partner alongside ROCKHarbor church that includes an academy for orphaned and vulnerable children as well as holistic community development within multiple townships in the Cape Flats
  • Key local leaders including Chris Jones, a professor at the Stellenbosch University who is highly connected to justice initiatives throughout the Western Cape, especially in the area of rehabilitative work among juvenile prisoners, as well as other local leaders who run foundations connected to community development in the city
  • The possibility of adjunct teaching within the University of Cape Town or other schools for Chris, as well as looking into sociology programs for Maxie to study within
  • Local church partnerships in the area of spiritual formation, retreat, and liturgical year rhythms similar to our work with 3rd Place these past few years (Invia is run by friends of friends)
  • The possibility of birthing a fresh missional community/organization within NieuCommunities or alongside one of these partners within the city that combines our shared passion for holistic spiritual, emotional, physical, and community development and the empowering of local leaders to live out their calling in the stories they invite South Africans into

We aren’t quite sure of the ‘what or how’ as of this writing, but invite you to listen, pray alongside, and speak into our discernment process as we literally hit the road today towards Cape Town. We’ll be meeting with local friends and contacts within Cape Town for the next two weeks, literally walking the streets in an attempt to move towards the land God will show us. NieuCommunities has graciously extended our transition within Church Resource Ministries through the end of March to allow this emerging sense of place and calling to firm before we make a final decision as to our next steps. Maxie and I will then return to Pretoria via Jeffrey’s Bay in an attempt to allow the breathtaking space of an empty door to emerge. We anticipate making a final decision toward the end of March, and will be in communication shortly after that!

[A Financial Update as We Discern]

As you can imagine, our longer than anticipated transition has not enabled us to fundraise the loss of Maxie’s salary after she released her work as the Director of Pure Hope in November, anticipating our possible move to Vancouver. Currently, we are still employed by NieuCommunities/CRM through the end of March, and will communicate our next steps towards the end of that month. If you feel led to partner within us in this transition, a transitional gift would be deeply appreciated and felt. Please support our work here or by contacting Chris privately.

Ash Wednesday at 3rd Place.

Lighting tea lights as a form of prayer.

Download the Ash Wednesday Liturgy I edited and helped facilitate for 3rd Place here.

“Ash Wednesday, an echo of the Hebrew Testament’s ancient call to sackcloth and ashes, is a continuing cry across the centuries that life is transient, that change is urgent. We don’t have enough time to waste on nothingness. We need to repent our dillydallying on the road to God. We need to regret the time we’ve spent playing with dangerous distractions and empty diversions along the way. We need to repent of our senseless excesses and our excursions into sin, our breaches of justice, or failures of honesty, our estrangement from God, our savoring of excess, our absorbing self-gratifications, one infantile addiction, one creature craving another. We need to get back in touch with our souls. ‘Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return,’ the old Sacramentary formula warned us from God’s words to Adam and Eve, as the ashes trickled down our foreheads. We hear now, as Jesus proclaimed in Galilee, ‘Turn away from sin and believe the good news’ (Mk 1:15)” (Joan Chittister).

Love the movement in this shot. Kneeling to receive the ashen cross on one's forehead.

Amazing how beautiful barren branches can be. An apt metaphor of the soul's journey of growth.


Responding to the question of what we are fasting for the season of Lent.

Maxie Kamalski reading a portion of the Ash Wednesday liturgy.


Loved Pierre Du Plessis' comment that at times, we must 'receive' Communion as opposed to 'taking' it.

On the way to 'receive' Communion.


We are here (Ash Wednesday).


Fasting pride...


Ashen crosses all around!


A Facebook fast...appropriate! Love the potential of not finding self-worth in what is posted upon Facebook.


My favorite Ash Wednesday image, shot by Pierre Du Plessis. "Giving up substance abuse as distraction and a form of numbing" POWERFUL! This is why we are on mission in South Africa!

Chasing Daylight (Epiphany 2012).

I look this photo in our front yard early one morning!

 Download Chasing Daylight/Epiphany 2012 meditations written for 3rd Place here.

Chasing daylight serves as an apt metaphor to describe the climax of the Cycle of Light, the period of the liturgical year commencing with Advent, reaching a crescendo with Christmas, and concluding with Epiphany, the season to witness the light of Christ having not only entered the world through a newborn, but now dwelling within our souls and in all places on earth.

Robert Webber writes, “Now I am to be a manifestation of Christ. My part is to respond, to say yes to the calling, to commit my life to be a center through which the Epiphany could be extended beyond the crib to the world of my everyday experience” (Ancient-Future Time).

Our internal discipline is simple this month: Develop a short occasional prayer that pertains to a regular piece of your life. Invite the Spirit to engage your heart in a fresh way with a regular part of your life.

Epiphany is a particular season where we seek to chase the daylight we see within the neighbors God has place within our proximity.

 Download Chasing Daylight/Epiphany 2012 meditations written for 3rd Place here.

The Pangani Ark Of Transition.

It's metaphorically ironic how much the NieuCommunities/Pangani Ark looks like a coffin (Something must die for something else to rise!).

Really proud of NieuCommunities South Africa  for carrying forward the mission and memory of NieuCommunities South Africa into the heart of Pretoria from our old stomping grounds way out in Pretoria North, Pangani.

I was initially called back to Pretoria to not only pursue Maxie (the real reason :)), but also to help NieuCommunities South Africa move into the heart of the city center and transition towards apprenticing Africans into sustainable mission around the world. It’s been amazing as Maxie and I have somewhat returned to square one in the past few weeks of our discernment process to realize that my two initial reasons in mission for returning to Pretoria are well on their way to completion, within the time frame (2 years from early 2010) of my commitment towards this very transition (again, 1: helping our missional community move into the heart of Pretoria to align ourselves more centrally with the life and needs of the city, and 2: transitioning toward the apprenticing in mission of South African leaders).

This is happening people, as evidenced by NCSA’s wonderfully creative “Pangani Ark” retreat this past weekend. Here’s Joe’s thoughts, and a Facebook album:

As a missional monastic community, Pangani played a critical part in our formation. God met us all in deep ways. This is our constant reminder that we stand on the shoulders of many others who came before. As we move to where God has us in the city, we carry these memories with us. Baie dankie dat jy God vir die gawe van Pangani! (via Joe Reed, Director of NieuCommunities South Africa)

Passion 2012 Candlelight Freedom Vigil.

3 Million For Freedom From Slavery.

Passion 2012 literally just ended a few hours ago, and soaking in God’s presence for 4 days with 45,000 university students in the Georgia Dome (where the Atlanta Falcons play!) was amazing. More stunning (yet believable, as college students are not poor and have always been at the forefront of changing the world) is how worship was wed with justice, as we collectively chose to Do Something Now  to end modern day slavery around the world (A sobering reality: There are more slaves worldwide, 27 million+, than at any point in human history).

The result: Over $3 million US dollars (24.5 million RAND) raised through college students in 4 days to combat this!

Don’t ever count college students out!

To Be Conscious.

I 'lifted' this from Jon Foreman of Switchfoot fame, it was simply too beautiful!


“To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord help me to remember that You gave me life.Thank you for the gift of life.Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me. To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me.The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.” (via

Eckhart, On Giving Birth.

Meister Eckhart wrote: ‘What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son, if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture’?

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