Becoming Chris Kamalski

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

Tag: Curtis Love

NieuCommunities’ Facilitates Transformation.

Curtis Love, a gifted coach himself, was the perfect facilitator for our Coaching Training.

Curtis Love facilitated an amazing 3-day coaching training for 18 gifted leaders of local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), NieuCommunities, and Ethne (a sister organization within CRM), a few weeks ago. Yesterday, I received his newest newsletter reflecting upon this intensive time spent together, and I realized, this is what NieuCommunities does best. We facilitate transformation through the creation of environments and spaces where people can be trained, and then sent out to return to their own context of mission and service. His newsletter was so powerful I asked his permission to re-post it in its entirety as a window into a bit of our work here in Pretoria! Suffice it to say: I took all these pictures, and served a lot of tea, coffee, and fire-tending these 3 days. Really proud of you my friend. If you want to receive Curtis’s newsletters, click here:

Teaching through the COACH Model.

Curtis’ words from here on out:

Getting 18 busy leaders, managers and supervisors in a room for 3 full days is no easy task! These leaders were a mix of people from NieuCommunities, Ethne and three local, faith based NGO’s.The reason? We were hosting a training on “transformational leadership”, in which we were seeking to help people integrate coaching/empowering skills into their current role and leadership style.

A wonderfully diverse group of Africans made for great conversation!

For me learning together in a room full of people committed to God’s world and the precious people that inhabit it, is a really incredible experience. A few of the people in the room I know quite well and the challenges they face day to day in their work are not trivial (an understatement!). They work with the homeless, young girls at risk, orphans, unemployed youth and the terminally ill, yet they continue in faith, hope and love to serve those people who live in the shadows of our cities.

The COACHing training facilitates wonderful practice time to internalize asking reflective questions.

The feeback was enthusiatic and warm, which for us was very affirming.  Learning, friendship and a commitment to the health of our world is a potent combination! The most satisfying feedback that I received came from our good friend Maxie (My wife!!). She wrote, ‘this workshop really made me aware of my role in a persons transformation – a facilitator that helps create space and awareness through listening and questions…’ This is, for me, one of the most profound insights of coaching. We are not the initiators of transformation in our lives, the lives of others or in the world (1 Cor 3:6). We are simply facilitators of God’s loving and healing transformation at work in peoples lives and our world in general.

Coming out of the training we are establishing a coaching circle, which will meet once a month  to continue to grow, apply and advance the coaching skills learned in the training. While a once-off training is good and provides short term motivation, we know that ‘deep application’ takes time and a supportive community. We hope that this group can serve as this community.

Ladder Shot.

For those of you who know the ministry and NGO world, you know that good quality training is often limited by budget restrictions. One remarkable thing about this training, is that we were able to offer the 3 days for just R100! This allowed people who otherwise might not have come, if the price was higher, to attend. This was only made possible by the generous people who support this work. I am continually grateful to God that people would invest in me and our community of people, so that we can make ourselves freely available to come alongside and support the important work happening in and around Tshwane.

Noel Chiritido, a part of our missional community, rocking 360 degree questions!

Truly it is humbling and inspiring to know that we do not work alone but with many people behind us, supporting us, belieiving in us, and cheering us on towards ‘love and good works’ (Hebrews 10:24).

Curtis, Our Cultural Architect (Project 365, Day 136).

Aperture: f/4.5     Focal Length: 35 mm     ISO: 100     Shutter Speed: 1/320 second

Stations of the Cross: A Place For Observation.

Curtis Love, allowing the Spirit to create 'a place of observation' within.

contemplation |ˌkäntəmˈplā sh ən|noun:

  1. the action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time
  2. deep reflective thought
  3. the state of being thought about or planned.
  4. religious meditation (In Christian spirituality: a form of prayer or meditation in which a person seeks to pass beyond mental images and concepts to a direct experience of the Divine).
  • Origin: 16th century Latin word ‘contemplatio.’ The verb form, ‘contemplari’ contains the root ‘templari,’ which means ‘a place for observation.’

I unashamedly love using the simple dictionary program on my laptop to look up the definition of words, especially their Latin root meanings. It must be something about the precision of words, and how their usage flows together to create a meaningful sense of what something is.

A few weeks ago, Curtis Love lead our community in an experience designed to simply create space for us to experience the presence of Jesus in our lives. He melded images from Chris Gollon’s modern Stations of the Cross installation in the Church of St. John on Bethnal Green in London with simple Scriptural texts accompanying provocative questions designed to help us walk alongside Jesus in the final hours of his life.

The Stations of the Cross are a common means of contemplation for much of the Church globally, particularly the Roman Catholic and more High Church portions of our faith family. What I love about them correlates directly with the definition of contemplation as described above: They allow for a ‘place of observation’ and the cultivation of a  deliberate desire to directly experience the Divine. In other words, opening our hearts (the creation of internal space, in the place the Spirit of God actually ‘resides’ within us) through the creation of a physical space + journey we undergo (walking + meditating on the journey Jesus undertook as He headed towards the cross).

All who participated agreed that this was a sorely needed breath of fresh air in our lives that evening. Maybe we all need to give greater credence to the creation of places of observation in our lives.

(Each week I will attempt to post a story or reflection about some aspect of the work that our missional community, NieuCommunities South Africa, is currently engaged in here in Pretoria. I’ll simply attempt to answer the question, ‘What stories are you co-writing with God in South Africa, and how does this story fulfill your unique mandate to apprentice South African leaders into sustainable mission around the globe?’)


Family Values.

(Each week I will attempt to post a story or reflection about some aspect of the work that our missional community, NieuCommunities South Africa, is currently engaged in here in Pretoria. I’ll simply attempt to answer the question, ‘What stories are you co-writing with God in South Africa, and how does this story fulfill your unique mandate to apprentice South African leaders into sustainable mission around the globe?’)

'Father' calls us together for a little family values convo!

South African nachos. Lime coriander pasta salad. Salted popcorn roasted over the stove.

This smorgasbord of fine ‘man’ finger foods that I spread out for us (as Curtis Love, my teammate so aptly described the purpose of food at our weekly Learning Conversations) greeted a small group of 9 this past Tuesday night as NieuCommunities South Africa kicked off a fresh year of exploration, learning, discovery, and engagement in a common missional life, all for the purpose of apprenticing South African leaders into a life of sustainable mission around the globe.

Jody playing the exasperated dad to Noel's earnest efforts to please!

What followed this hearty food was an even richer evening of discussion around the family values that encompass the heart of how we seek to live and posture our lives as a missional fragrance within the heart of Pretoria. I watched as Noel, a young Zimbabwean who had just begun a university degree in Information Technologies (the first degree in his family!) wrestled with the necessity for a community to explore shared missional life with JP, a sharp theology student completing his master’s thesis on the role of aesthetics and beauty within the church. I listened as my fiance, Maxie, raised the critical point of whether our jobs and livelihoods encompassed our call towards missional engagement, or whether the common belief within most Christian circles of separation between one’s career and one’s service would continue within our midst. I emphasized with Melissa, JP’s girlfriend, who has just begun a terribly difficult year of practical service (an internship of sorts) as she completes her studies in health and human services, working with a population south of Johannesburg, and over 90 minutes from her home.

JP in contemplation (His girlfriend Melissa in foreground, Doug in background).

And my mind raced all the while, considering what I valued as a belief, and what my life confirmed or denied through my actions regarding mission.

Kindle Envy: I thought it solved all world problems, Joe!

And my mind raced, wide-eyed at the possibilities in this small circle of Christ-followers, all desiring to live a life of impact, investment, and engagement within the restorative work of Christ breaking out all around us in South Africa.

A study in contemplation, Curtis Love style.

And my mind raced, confirming yet again how grateful I am to be living ‘this sort of normal:’ a life on mission, walking alongside South Africans in the hope that somehow, the Spirit of God will breathe fresh from my life onto theirs, and that together, we may conspire towards all sorts of goodness in our world, drawing many unto Jesus.

I can’t wait for next Tuesday evening to come!

Love your neighbor. Jesus sums everything up well, no?

1000 Words: Introducing Mr. Love.

A few weeks ago my camera was stolen. The violation that I felt was a bit muted deal to the fact that it forced me to crack open my new camera and actually begin learning how to use it.

Conveniently, my friend Curtis Love, a member of our staff team from Jo’burg, wanted to send out postcards to potential donors as a part of his fundraising efforts. Here’s a bit of our early evening together standing on trains:

The Winner (for Curtis' donor purposes, that is).

My favorite, entitled 'Greek god.'

Big Wheels.

Trains = Epic images, always.

Everyone needs a Boy Band photo.

A Nod Towards Procrastination.

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. [E.B. White, in an interview with The New York Times in 1969, via Curtis Love]

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