Becoming Chris Kamalski

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

Tag: NC


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!

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)

Christmastide (Advent has come).

Spicy, sweet coffee roasting = The smell of Christmas!

 Download the Christmas +Advent meditations here.

As sent ones, how do we extend this welcome of Christ to our neighbors that God has placed in our world?

 Download the Christmas + Advent meditations here.


Texts: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 98; Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7; Luke 2:1-20; John 1:1-14

Mediation: The scent of Christmas: Spicy cinnamon cider, mingling with the promise of a new morning through that first glorious cup of coffee. The smells of Christmas lunch invading the entire house, promising a meal worthy of a King. Again, a metaphor much deeper than simple food and drink: Instead, an invitation to welcome the (gentle) invasion of Jesus into our world, a promise through an infant that reaches far greater than we can imagine or conceive. For it is “in Advent that we celebrate the beginning and ending of Christ’s victory over the powers of evil, and we call upon God to accomplish that victory in our own lives, to break in on us, to be born in our hearts, and to create us anew. This is the message of Isaiah to us: a Savior is coming not only to Israel but to the whole world” (Robert Webber). As sent ones, how do we extend this welcome of Christ to our neighbors that God has placed in our world?

Response: Join the world in a chorus that Charles Wesley first penned in 1745:

Come, Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free; From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art; Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King, Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit, Rule in all our hearts alone; By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal proces- sion and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are…an aroma that brings life” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16, NIV)

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