Becoming Chris Kamalski

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

Tag: Discernment

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.

A Playground In Vancouver.

‘Vancouver is a playground awaiting your leadership + vision.’

Rob Yackley’s words continued to ring around our ears as we processed all that we had just dialogued about.

Had Maxie and I been invited into a process of discernment and dialogue or was it just our imagination? Barely a month removed from our honeymoon, we had the clear sense the the later half of 2011 would bring not only a fresh season (the Kamalski’s as newlyweds!) but also a fresh invitation into a listening posture, seeking to understand if God was having us explore a new environment where our visions, personalities, and presence could birth something fresh within the Kingdom story within our world. We knew a few things were clear as we began to wait, ears to the ground:

  • Chris’s two-year commitment to walking alongside NieuCommunities South Africa, helping our missional community transition from a neighborhood in a subhurb far removed from the life of the city, as well as begin to discern how to best apprentice South African leaders into sustainable mission, was well underway as 2011 ‘turned towards home plate.’
  • Maxie was likely ending a long 5-year season in the birth, growth, and launch of her non-profit organization, Pure Hope, a gap-year ministry for students that exposed South Africans to issues of poverty and injustice all throughout their city, and invited the wider church to become educated and engaged in the reality most South Africans live within, as Pure Hope entered into a new season of strategic planning and involvement with Moreleta Park Church, its launchpad.
  • We sensed something missional, globally-focused, and utilizing our shared gifts in partnership and mutual life was likely beginning to unfold before us.

Enter Vancouver, a NieuCommunities missional community that had been ‘on ice’ (pardon the pun) for several years now due to staff transition throughout our larger mission organization, CRM, as well as natural growth within families serving in the wider Vancouver area (babies!) and the need to transition this NC site away from the hosting of a traditional 10-month missional apprenticeship into a fresh season of asking how best to serve, empower, and apprentice Canadians (and all Vancouverites) into the stories God is inviting them to author with their lives. Beginning the morning before our wedding, we begin listening to God together with many within our organization, repeatedly returning to the idea that a fresh set of eyes, ears, and hearts was needed within a strong leadership couple that would help to rebirth and give central leadership to a well-networked area of East Vancouver. To quote Rob’s thoughts after one of our many conversations:

  • “I keep thinking about you guys in Vancouver. I remember what you said about a sense of connection there, and I think you and Maxie are just what Amy needs to help rebirth that community. I know you want to be part of something new, and I think a rebirth of a new kind of NC in Vancouver would give you that kind of experience. That community’s historical integration with local churches and with the poor also seem to be in line with your and Maxie’s bent. I think the chance for you to play a significant leadership role alongside the collective director could be really cool. And the idea of you being in the same city as Tim Warkentin-two potential global gardeners living in the same neighborhood–could be really significant too.”

Maxie and I kept exploring Vancouver, flipping through websites, looking at potential programs for Maxie to possibly begin to study at for a season, and we kept returning to this simple reality:

We need to listen on the ground. Thus, as you scan this email, we are stepping foot onto Canadian soil as winter descends, beginning a process of prayer, vision-casting, and conversation with a number of people, all seeking to discern the same reality: Is God inviting Chris and Maxie to give central leadership in helping to rebirth a fresh expression of mission and God’s Kingdom in the heart of Vancouver?

We are not certain–but we are certain of this: Will you please journey with us as we walk the streets through December 19th? Please pray for:

  • Clarity and confidence as we discern the Spirit’s direction for our next steps
  • Potential alignment with the people, potential community and leadership, and city of Vancouver
  • Growing awareness and conviction to engage our lives with the needs of a large, multi-cultural, largely post-Christian city
  • Peace and passion as we begin to dialogue towards a decision sometime around Christmas.

If you are interested in partnering with our work, please go here.

If you feel led to prayerfully listen on our behalf, and feel led to share that with us, please email Chris at ckamalski@gmail.com.

We love and need you more than ever! ~Chraxie