Becoming Chris Kamalski

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

Tag: Missional Communities

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!

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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!

What NieuCommunities Lives.

Maxie and I spent much of last week with our extended NieuCommunities family in Golden Hill, a neighborhood in San Diego. An inspiring, filling time watching their community multiply and birth fresh expressions of mission!

Rob Yackley, Director of NieuCommunties, is helping Jon Huckins write a book describing the postures of mission that form the common rhythm that make up the heartbeat of missional community together. It’s called Thin Places and is supposed to be out early this coming year! As a part of the story-telling process, they are gathering feedback about NieuCommunities’ impact around the globe. I thought John Hayes’ words were especially powerful, and accurate in describing what we were about:

“There is a ‘come and see’ authenticity about NieuCommunities that is so reminiscent of Jesus calling the disciples out of fishing boats on the shore of Lake Galilee I can almost taste the salt air. At the same time, the “come and see” community is balanced by a “go and do” mission that gives me hope for inside-out change in neighborhoods in the global city. At a time when many are talking about missional communities, NieuCommunities quietly and expertly goes about doing it—forming young men and women and transforming neighborhoods. The vitality of NieuCommunities is less about what is being said than what is being lived.”

[John Hayes, founder of innerCHANGE and author of Submerge, Living Deep in a Shallow World.]

If you are able, will you prayerfully consider partnering with us financially as we end 2011? Our potential transition to Vancouver has caused our financial needs to grow dramatically.

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

A Little YouTube Love.

My first editing effort. Pretty proud of this (totally imperfect) effort to capture the Life Compass project we are carrying!

Read the full [60* Second Field Stories] here.

Increasingly, Maxie and I have found ourselves facilitating Life Compass training, a holistic developmental tool that uses a narrative story driven process to empower and individual or community to develop a vision for their life. As Donald Miller writes, “A good storyteller speaks something into nothing. Where there is an absence of story, or perhaps a bad story, a good storyteller walks in and changes reality. He doesn’t critique the existing story, or lament about his boredom, like a critic. He just tells something different and invites other people into the new story he is telling.” We hope these short YouTube videos do just that…give you a glimpse into the reality we are living on mission here in South Africa, and a sneak peak at the horizon we are walking towards! Enjoy!

Life Compass Is…(YouTube video explaining our central training)

Welcome to the Chraxie Story! (A little dual interview unpacking the Chraxie love story)

Images of Life//Easter 2011.

Download the Images of Life//Easter 2011 pdf here.

Pierre Du Plessis, Lead Pastor of our local faith community, 3rd Place, has lovingly titled me “The Resident Liturgist,” meaning that I am shepherding our community into following Jesus throughout the various seasons of the church liturgical year through the rhythmic practice of a wide variety of creative disciplines, provocative questions, and simple actions all designed to engage our community across the city in a shared, consistent, grounded faith that moves within our world. I have been fortunate to craft write-ups that have been designed as downloadable pdf’s for the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and now Easter. You can find all these pdf’s here for your engagement! I am finding great life and value in helping to ground our growing community of young cultural creatives within a worldwide, historical framework that the global church is pursuing. In following the weekly liturgical texts from http://textweek.com, we join hundreds of millions of Christ-followers in seeking to engage God’s work in the world, participating alongside him. Enjoy this extended season of Easter that we have titled, Images of Life!

Download the Images of Life//Easter 2011 pdf here.

Saturday: Full-Spectrum Birthday Parties.

Noa Du Plessis, hijacking her brother's party last year in enthusiastic love!

Bleary-eyed, Maxie and I met Christiaan Krit, a good ‘muso’ (music) friend of ours, for coffee at Seattle early Saturday morning. Tian is shepherding all of the musical elements of our wedding celebration, and it was past due time for us to all get on the same page regarding our upcoming Chraxie Celebration! We had a great time waking up via warm cappuccinos, dreaming of the elaborate musical entrances and exits that will frame certain sections of our wedding, all the while Maxie subtly reigning Tian and my ridiculous plans back towards reality (Me: “I think 10 jimbae drums would be amazing!” Maxie: “One is plenty, sweetheart.” 🙂 )

Then we headed over to Pierre and Rialette Du Plessis’ house for their daughter Noa’s 3 year-old birthday party. Full disclosure: Pierre whispered with an equally amused/frantic sparkle in his eyes that they were expecting 30 parents and 34 children (almost entirely under 5!) for this party, which made me shudder at the potential chaos that we were about to enter into, but instead Maxie and I found a bustling yard full of creativity (an amazing castle cake) and activity (almost that many children running around handing us random treasures they had found). Pierre and Ria are the lead pastors who initially planted 3rd Place as a creative new expression of the church several years ago, and have been good friends with Maxie for a long time. I’ve recently begun working much closer with Pierre and 3rd Place as their resident “Liturgist,” helping introduce and shepherd the 3rd Place community through the church liturgical year, a rhythm of regular introduction to spiritual disciplines and other faith practices that shape how this group of cultural creatives are following God in the way of Jesus.

The man himself! My good friend Rassie Fourie, introduced to bocce ball!

In the evening, we drove out to Rassie and Michele Fourie’s new home on the edge of a lovely farm plot (Their living room window looks out on a field of sheep!) to celebrate Rassie’s aborted 30th birthday, due to Mika, his newborn, having developed a nasty bout of bronchitis. We laughed at the similarity between our 30th birthdays, and how those we loved and their various sicknesses/accidental injuries shelving plans for ‘the most epic party ever!’ (Maxie partially tore ligaments in her left knee the day before I turned 30, and now Rassie found his big bash shelved because of his daughter!). Maxie and I have really connected with Rassie and Michele over the past few months, and realize that we share a similar heart for missional engagement, intimate community that births fresh expression of mission and participation in God’s work in the world, and a sense of global calling to multiple cultures throughout the world. We are eager to remain open to God for possible partnership and alignment of our respective callings at some point, and at this point simply want to grow in relationship as friends! (Rassie will be officiating the vows between Maxie and I as we marry in a few weeks, and has fast become one of my closest South African friends).

More than anything, the activities of this busy Saturday confirmed yet again the reality that much of my work in missional service here in South Africa stems, and should stem, from the careful and deliberate cultivation of friendships birthed first out of a shared relational connection. The work of God throughout our world is not based solely on shared strategic planning, nor smart execution of a desired outcome (though those things have their place), but rather out of friends joining together to lean into each other’s lives for the purpose of furthering God’s Kingdom.

All in all, a day well spent!

(Each day this week I will post a story or reflection about some aspect of my work and life that our missional community, NieuCommunities South Africa, is currently engaged in here in Pretoria. I’ll simply attempt to answer the questions, ‘What does a week in my life look like? while framing that within the larger question of ‘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 in the way of Jesus into sustainable mission around the globe?’)

Friday: Not Simply A Math Teacher.

Electric Guitar Shredder + Quantum Physics Student + Heart For The Marginalized. Imile has it all!

The morning was spent in a blur of wedding planning frenzy, sitting inside Moreleta Park Church where Maxie works trying to connect all the dots between this day (22 days before our wedding), the mountain of what we still needed to do, and the mini-Road Trip we are essentially hosting for 9 Americans the week prior to our wedding, an awesome but semi-daunting prospect. Maxie and I are deeply aware that our wedding serves as a catalyst for family and friends to come celebrate with us, most of whom have never set foot anywhere on the African continent, and who will likely visit South Africa just this once. Hence, we truly desire to host them well, providing a mixture of fun wedding week activities designed to introduce people we love to the South Africa we live and work in each day.

I then headed almost straight over to Imile de Villiers house, a gargantuan shared commune space that serves as one of the 3 Intentional Living homes throughout Pretoria. A loose network of friends and university/post-university students, there are 3 homes with 10-12 students sharing space together in an experiment fusing community and a common heart for missional engagement in the needs of one’s city together with the reality that for a college student, rent must remain as cheap as possible. Imile is one of several guys who leads this communal experiment, seeking to create intentional space for students to discover who they are, all while in the forging process of completing university degrees.

I met Imile (and many other Intentional Living people) first through 3rd Place, the local faith community I serve alongside in Pretoria. We spent several weeks together last June on a World Cup Worship Tour that Maxie organized through Moreleta Park Church, Imile shredding the electric guitar for our touring band while I attempted to shepherd and pastor the team alongside Maxie, all in the context of the first few weeks of the soccer World Cup as South Africa welcomed the world this past June. I was immediately struck by his genuine heart, soft spirit, and receptiveness to God’s mission within the world. Imile is truly an unassuming guy who leaves a large wake behind himself of those he has come alongside to bless. In short, we immediately hit it off and begun a coaching/mentoring relationship that has continued to this day.

As 2011 began and Imile told us that their communal Intentional Living experiment was literally moving into the neighborhood next door to Clydesdale, where our missional community resides, I was ecstatic to explore the possibilities of how NieuCommunities could partner alongside the IL homes, walking with them as their hearts for God’s mission influenced people throughout Pretoria. While this hasn’t materialized to the degree that I was initially hoping at this point, I’m still confident that after our wedding, God may be brewing something for us to pursue together.

Nonetheless, Imile and I greatly enjoy spending time together every few weeks, exploring all that God is inviting him into as he finishes up his last year of undergraduate studies at the University of Pretoria. Imile is completing studies in math and physics, and describes his course load with terms that lose me immediately (He was learning Quantum Physics last week for example). Yet his heart is clearly moving him towards a life of missional service, engaging in the meeting of practical needs for the marginalized around him. It seems like each break from school finds Imile gathering a small crew of friends around him and setting off to another city around Africa, visiting missionaries who are engaged in creative work that empowers Africans. Imile shares this same heart, thus leading to the central question of our time together most weeks:

How does a math and physics student engage in a world teeming with need all around him?

I love watching Imile wrestle through this, balancing the reality of why he has chosen this course of study (Why we pursue what we do is a complex reality for all of us to come to grips with) with what is spilling out of his heart. We don’t really know at this moment exactly where God is inviting Imile to engage after this last year of studies ends, but one thing is becoming certain: Imile is not simply a math teacher.

I cannot wait to see how God fuses together gifts in complex numerical theory with a heart bursting to see the poor and marginalized enjoy the dignity that they deserve. All I know is that I am privileged to have a front row seat as this story of redemption unfolds.

(Each day this week I will post a story or reflection about some aspect of my work and life that our missional community, NieuCommunities South Africa, is currently engaged in here in Pretoria. I’ll simply attempt to answer the questions, ‘What does a week in my life look like? while framing that within the larger question of ‘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 in the way of Jesus into sustainable mission around the globe?’)

Why I Am Returning To South Africa 3.

Downtown Pretoria from the top of the National Zoo (We will move to a neighborhood to the left of this photo)

Here’s How You Can Help Me.

As I wrote yesterday, I see 4 avenues of missional engagement with South Africans as the primary ‘currents’ within which I’ll swim as I return to South Africa for the next two years. Here’s the second avenue I see myself engaged in:

2. Transitioning our Community to move into the heart of downtown Pretoria so we can mentor & send South Africans: As a missional community seeking to incarnate within a neighborhood as a redemptive presence for all who we live among, NieuCommunities South Africa will move into the heart of downtown Pretoria in May 2010, specifically a set of neighborhoods that represent a lower-income, cross-pollination of South Africans that are of native South African, Afrikaans (Dutch), and British South African descent.  This area is one of a few neighborhoods where South Africans of different ethnicities actually live together, and thus is an area of great promise for us as a missional community. We will work closely in partnership with a number of churches and non-profits located throughout the city, as well as with the large university student population that lives directly in that area.