Becoming Chris Kamalski

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

Tag: Spiritual Formation


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 Wisdom of Descent.

Grab 3rd Place’s September take on Ordinary Time, “The Wisdom of Descent,” which I wrote, here:

Love the root meaning, "to climb down."

Nouwen's definition of prayer: Where we are totally ourselves before God.

"The chief task of the athlete (that is, the monk) is to enter into his heart" (Macarius the Great)

The reality that the Spirit dwells in my hidden self both liberates and freaks me out!

"Prayer moves theology of the head to words expressed by the heart" (Henri Nouwen)








The Descent.

“The Russian mystic Theophan the Recluse writes, ‘I will remind you of only one thing: one must descend with the mind into the heart, and there stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all seeing within you. Prayer takes a firm and steadfast hold, when a small fire begins to burn in the heart. Try not to quench ths fire, and it will become established in such a way that the prayer repeats itself: And then you will have within you a small murmuring stream.’” [Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Formation].

I’m wondering: Is prayer a walk of descent alongside the Spirit from the mind (cognitive dialogue with God) into the heart (dwelling with the Spirit in our truest self, naked in the ‘seat of our will?’)

The Wisdom Of Obedience.

Nothing ordinary about obedience at all, even if it has fallen out of fashion.

Tom Smith rocked our community in early July with a two-week series on training withe Jesus in the sort of life that He lived on this earth, implying heavily that one of the values that has been lost in our obsession with all things missional has been the difficult act of obedience.  If I’m frank, obedience makes me uncomfortable, because it confronts the values that I speak out with the reality how how I often am falling short of them in my life. I’d rather stick in the intellectual discussion of a certain theological treatise, or pick apart a concept that society is wrestling with. Obedience brings this discussion to a guttural level, asking me if I truly take serious the implications of following Someone’s Authoritative Voice. I’m excited to pursue this aspect of Ordinary Time with our faith community this month.

Full downloadable PDF here.

Really challenged by this definition of obedience.

Do I prefer consuming information as opposed to acting out transformation?

May my obedience grow to match my information consumption.

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