Becoming Chris Kamalski

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

Tag: NCSA

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!

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)

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

Welcome To The Chraxie Story!

Refusing To Perish.

Enthomjeni Youth Prison, where the mantra is "A Place of New Beginnings." Sounds just about right!

Download {REFUSING TO PERISH}, our latest [Field Stories] update here.

(Hi-Res version here). (Low-Res version here).

 

‘Without vision, people perish.’ This provocative phrase found in Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) anchors our work in facilitating the Life Compass course with inmates in Enthomjeni, a rehabilitative prison for juveniles in Pretoria. A growing partnership between NieuCommunities South Africa and Pure Hope (the NGO that my wife Maxie directs through a local church in Pretoria) has led to 16 inmates refusing to perish in the past 9 months, fresh hope building in their hearts as we speak life into them, seeking to tell a fresh story with their future. The Life Compass process is a holistic developmental tool that seeks to provoke a directional vision and a vocational call in one’s life that propels a person forward into who they are created to be. We have been given the privilege of shepherding this process here in Pretoria, and are ecstatic about how God is developing our hearts for this work. The [Field Stories] above paint a brief picture of the stories God has begun to tell with these inmates’ lives. We hope you are inspired with their visions, penned by their own hands…

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).

JP + Melissa (Project 365, Day 191).

 

Aperture: f/5.6     Focal Length: 50 mm     ISO: 1250     Shutter Speed: 1/50 second

Ezra The Lionhearted (Project 365, Day 180

Aperture: f/5     Focal Length: 39 mm     ISO: 640     Shutter Speed: 1/40 second

 

Teammates (Project 365, Day 182).

Aperture: f/5.6     Focal Length: 23 mm     ISO: 100     Shutter Speed: 1/80 second

 

#Chraxie Celebration Presents ‘The 25’

An epic photo from an unforgettable celebration. #Chraxie forever! (copyright we love pictures)

Download #Chraxie Celebration Presents ‘The 25’ here. (May take awhile to load as images are hi-res).

Download #Chraxie Celebration Presents ‘The 25’ (Small) here. (Faster, smaller version).

We can’t wait to show you a little piece of creative beauty that we put together entitled ‘The 25’ to celebrate the most amazing #Chraxie Celebration that went down this past month. We hope that whether you participated in our special wedding day, or are simply clicking through via Facebook, you know that we consider you a valuable member of our community. We can’t wait to continue the party this coming November in California!

We love you, Chraxie 

A little sneak peak of our wedding courtesy of we love picturesSneak Peak!