Everyday Miracles

You can't get AIDS from giving hugs. So we gave loads of hugs.
You can’t get AIDS from giving hugs. So we gave loads of hugs.

You know what’s awesome? Miracles. Those are awesome. On Friday, a group of us from YWAM hit the streets of Fish Hoek, in search of people who needed prayer and healing. We didn’t need to go far.

We pulled the car into the False Bay hospital parking lot. No sooner had we stepped out of the car when we ran into two women walking along the sidewalk.  And the lady who limped from her car into the hospital. And the lady with a pin in her hip who could barely walk and the man who had been beaten severly. And…and…and. We prayed for them all. In total that day, we saw 15 people walk away completely healed and three people were introduced to Jesus.

Yep, I ‘d say that was a good day. It’s so fun when God shows people how much He loves them. And He uses us to do it.

Christmas Wishes

tixindexPLOT TWIST: The Quists would love to come home for Christmas. We are homesick. We could use some relaxation, family time and to meet our newest nephew who is now almost one!

We found round trip flights for the wicked cheap price of $890 per person and one sweet friend has already sent money for one ticket! If you are looking to be a blessing–look no further–the six remaining Quists will be overjoyed at spending Christmas with family and friends.

Check out our Paypal account on the front page for easy donation. Feliz Navidad!

PS We are not flying first class and we didn’t change our name to Enoch.

An Afternoon with God in Greenmarket Square

watercolors1Perfect weather. Friday afternoon, Halloween weekend. Downtown Cape Town. We set up a tent in a little space in one of the busiest areas of the city: Greenmarket Square. Vendors from all over Africa try to convince tourists they need to buy pricey ostrich eggs, hand painted canvas and leather belts.

I have never done ‘prophetic art’ which is where you sit across from a complete stranger, ask God what He wants to say to that person and then paint a picture or word about that message. First, I don’t paint, draw or have nice handwriting. So you can imagine my surprise when people would clutch their paintings and swear to frame them. Continue reading

Pieces. Kickball. Palestine.

Part 2 of my recent trip. Part 1 is here. Part 3 is in my head.

kickballI hated “picking teams” in grade school. With the exception of one glorious fifth grade kickball season, I was never the first player chosen for a team. “Mennonite Molly” claimed that title. A leggy blonde a whole year older than the rest of us; a terror in a denim skirt.

It begins in our bones and stays there until something breaks. That dualism. The US vs THEM mentality.

Last month I got to travel with another woman to visit Palestine and Israel, which unexpectedly broke me into pieces. What I saw in real life isn’t what TV and the Internet told me I’d see.

I learned things I didn’t know about the Palestinian way of life, living under occupation, the things hidden from news stories and Facebook feeds.

IMG_0002Like a pendulum, my emotions swung from trying to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to outright hostility toward Israel. This surprised me. I did not expect this trip to yank at me emotionally, tugging at the thread of injustice from both sides.

I’ve been taught about Israel ever since my first Sunday School teacher slapped a White Moses on the flannel graph board in 1980 and declared the Israelites God’s chosen people. I have a college degree in Bible and Theology. I know the characters, places and events like family.

What I was never taught was that in Bethlehem there is a Christian Palestinian mother with six daughters. She runs a little bakery that serves feta-rosemary bread. If you ask, she’ll heat it for you in the wood stove so the cheese melts in your mouth.

Upon hearing I lived in South Africa, she said, “I’d like to travel. But, I’m not allowed to leave the West Bank. My daughter, she wants to travel. She met a guy from the USA. He’s from a place called Grand Rapids, Michigan. Do you know it?”

“Yes, I know Grand Rapids.”

“Is it like here? Hot?”

“No, its green and it gets very cold in the winter. It snows.”

“It snows?! That would be glorious, to see snow.”

Or what of the teenager who works afternoons in his uncle’s grocery store-his arm wrapped in a cast, the result of a basketball game. He’s studying. He wants to be a doctor. He doesn’t allow me to purchase the hummus I bring to the counter but instead steps from behind the counter to bring me his top recommendation.

“Let me ask you something. When you go back to the US, what will you tell them about us?” From the graffiti artwork on the Separation Wall, it’s clear he already knows what the world says about them.

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When I peeled back the covering, I saw. Real people, with pain and fear. Families, babies, celebrations, and that one auntie who sends irritating  Candy Crush requests. I saw the refugee camps, meant for 10 days. It’s now been 60 years.

IMG_0008I rode the bus everyday from Bethlehem into Jerusalem in the shadow of the Separation Wall. I fumbled for my passport at every checkpoint in the presence of an impatient guard and his machine gun. Unnerving.

While dropping us at our apartment one day, our taxi driver mentioned the death toll in Gaza. I noticed before he turned away the faint glisten of a tear and the glitch in his voice.

I can feel the claustrophobic frustration. Before the trip, I couldn’t tell you that West Bank has a different government than Gaza. I assumed they were all some shade of Hamas. Heck, I didn’t even know that Bethlehem is in the West Bank, although, I did know that Judea and Samaria are the West Bank so, go figure. After what I’ve seen and heard, quite frankly, I would be tempted to throw rocks too.

But then I spent time in Jerusalem.

I sat in a row of white plastic chairs in the heat of the mid-day sun while I closed my eyes and listened to the prayers and cries of the women of Israel as they gently tapped their heads against the giant stone wall. I wrote my own prayers on the slips of paper, folded them and placed them with countless others, in the cracks of the great wall.

The rise of the women’s cries give way to the agonized strength of the men’s prayer. Although separate, the two sounds twist together and fade back into the wall itself.

I hear a little boy ask his father, “Daddy, is Iron Dome working today?” The father responds, “Yes, it’s working my boy.”

Only pieces of innocence remain where a whole child should have stood.

I hear the air raid sirens, I hear the bombs and gunshots. I’m suffocating at death’s ugly sound. I’ve only listened for a few weeks. I can’t imagine what remains of a person when they hear the sound of death without end.

IMG_0041Both sides of the story pull, taking pieces, leaving me torn. I knelt in the church, the site where Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I stood in the garden tomb, where Jesus rose from the dead. I walked the Old City streets near the Via Dolorosa. My Sunday School teacher would be proud. I’m here, in flesh and blood, not a one-dimensional character on a flannel graph board.

But I feel like I’m living in halves; divided.

Archbishop Elias Chacour tells pilgrims to both Israel and Palestine, “If you’ve come to take a side, for Israel or for Palestine, don’t come back. You will leave us in pieces. But if you come to love Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and to learn about the situation, you are welcome because you bring peace.”

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2 Corinthians 5:18 says, “But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him].”

Can we choose teams and still be in the business of reconciliation?

Every few weeks the older sixth grade class would call ”permanent teams.” Predictably, the presence of BobbyRay always incited this powerful kickball alliance. A vision in Wrangler jeans, BobbyRay was a hefty farm boy whom puberty visited often and early. His mere shadow at home plate induced panic in the outfield.

“Permanent teams” only ever lasted for a few days. Us fifth graders would appeal to the recess monitor to forcibly break up the unjust pact. Ms. Smith would charge onto the field in her high-waisted elastic pants and chunky necklace made of wood blocks. She neither frowned nor smiled; her mouth always opted to be linear. She smelled like  apples and cats. But she always divided the permanent teams and leveled the playing field so it was still a fair fight, no matter which team picked BillyRay.

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At what age can we stop choosing teams and invoking  permanent team rules? At what age do we take Jesus’ words seriously and actually LOVE our neighbors like ourselves?

There is life and wonder on either side. If we are reconcilers, that role mandates that we hear the voices on each side. We can’t hear accurately if we only see from one perspective.

The Kingdom is a kaleidoscope. Every color and shape forms together, tumbling and shifting together to form infinite creativity.

What if instead of broken glass to be avoided, we see each other like colors in a kaleidoscope? Design upon design, the colors link and overlap; they appreciate and build upon one another.

The only permanence is the continuous Light which beams through the lens and a Creator who peers through the dark tunnel into the masterpiece and says, “Now they’ve got it. Finally, they understand.”

Yeah, let’s play that way.

We love because God first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from God is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. I John 4:17-21

 

*photo cred: The interwebs

“Why Have You Come Here?”

ssphoto**Part 1 in a series of who knows how many about my recent trip to Syrian refugees, Israel and Palestine.

Have you ever caught yourself thinking about or intrigued by a specific person, people group or place? Maybe even a cause? You know, you try to put it out of your mind, but at random times, it returns? You don’t even know the person, or have never been to the place, but you feel a connection with it; a responsibility or longing to know more?

The first time I felt this particular connection to someone was Michael Jackson in the fifth grade. I may or may not have been misguided by hormones. This is not what I’m talking about. This is stalking. Continue reading

The Not-so-good-2

Christina Quist: The-Not-So-Good-Samaritan

It was late afternoon, on a mild winter Cape Town day. I coerced Kevin into taking a walk around our neighborhood. It’s kind of an intense path. There’s a big hill. It involves stairs, lots of stairs. My mind was focused on both breathing, trying not to collapse and maintaining dialogue.

As we descended the hill, I saw her, sitting on the curb, shuffling her feet in the gravel. The bobby pins in her hair held certain sections more adamantly than others. Her pants were a brown cotton, an ugly brown. Continue reading

Cape Town, South Africa

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