All posts by kevin quist

The Opposite of Addiction

A friend of mine in South Africa posted this video on Facebook. It is an animated, abridged version of a TED talk given by author Johann Hari. He wrote a book about substance abuse called Chasing the Scream.  He realized he had a number of addicts in his life and didn’t know how to help them.  He went on a journey to find answers and wrote about it.  I haven’t read the book, yet, (I have started.) but I think his findings are worth considering.

Addiction is a major factor in our community.  (Today I was praying with two young moms whose own mothers are addicted to crystal meth.  These mothers no longer have relationships with their children or grandchildren.) In many cases, the shame and isolation method of treatment isn’t working.  It is making it worse.  This author postulates that love and community may be much more effective tools in setting people free, which resonates with where we see God leading us.

God of the Impossible; God of the Preposterous

Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of the Grade R (kindergarten) at the Ocean View Care Centre. I had no idea until I arrived. The excitement was abundant because it was truly a day to celebrate plus, God had provided a free trip to the circus for the school as a birthday present! Two years of miracles are certainly worthy of celebration.

The story is remarkable. The school was born in pain. The founder lost his young son to cancer at the end of 2014. He decided that he was not going to allow the children of Ocean View to be lost through lack of academic preparation. He couldn’t change what happened to his boy, but he could change the paths of the children of Ocean View who seemed to be falling through the cracks because they were on the streets when they should have been in a Grade R preschool.

The school was started with a simple decision. We will do it and God will provide. There was no building and no budget. These children’s families could not pay for this school and yet these children needed nutrition if they were going to learn. He found a retired teacher to do the teaching, and they rounded up about 20 kids who were Grade R age but were playing in the streets during school days. On February 10, 2015, the school started outside in the corner of a building. It rained that day while kids sat huddled in a corner of an abandoned building.

The school started to grow. More children came and so did more volunteer teachers. In April, the school and Ocean View Care Centre received 16 used shipping containers and were allowed to put them on a plot of council land. Now the school has its own classrooms and kitchen. Playground equipment was donated and a small support staff feed and care for the students.

Every day is a miracle here. Everyone is a volunteer. There are no salaries. When they come to serve, it is a miracle. The children are fed breakfast, lunch and a snack every day with no budget. Miracle. 85 children completed the first year. There was a total of 98 who came at some point during that year. Miracle. That was overwhelming so they capped enrollment at 55 the second year with a smaller staff. Miracle. This year they have about 40 students. Miracle. Almost 200 children’s lives have been impacted over this two years. Miraculous.

During our morning prayer meeting, I found myself praising the “God of the Impossible; God of the Preposterous.” He has made a school out of shipping containers and a vacant lot. He has fed and taught almost 200 children and prepared them for a better future. He has changed the lives of countless parents, observers, and volunteers who He has touched as we watched Him work with willing hearts and no budget.

The crazy thing is this is only the beginning of the impossible and preposterous things we expect God to do in Ocean View, in the Fish Hoek Valley, in Cape Town, in South Africa, across the African continent, and around the world. Get ready to participate with the God of the Impossible; God of the Preposterous.

Save

Is it an Election Year?

This post isn’t really about politics. Honest. In fact I am going to use 80s television to make it seem less political, but I do think politics is a gateway to look at ourselves, or a mirror, if you will.

The other thing is that this post isn’t about trying to change anyone’s views, opinions or actions. I am merely trying to plant a seed, a seed of hope.

It is strange viewing this election campaign from afar. The distance certainly changes the intensity. Although I find that people here are almost as interested as they are in the USA. So many tell me they are following the drama quite closely. To tell the truth, they seem much more interested than I do, but I find their reactions and observations fascinating.

There are some things that are obvious to me.

1. We are deeply divided. I am primarily talking about the people of God, but we could say that about the nation, as well. Some of us love Mr. T and are rooting for the A-Team. Others of us are saying that Mrs. C and Happy Days are the best option. And a very large group are saying they don’t like the choices that 80s television is giving us. I have people I love, honor and trust in each group. Each group seems to be using Biblical examples as proof. Each group seems to feel there is no other way to look at it and if you do, you are violating the Word. Continue reading Is it an Election Year?

Hard Lessons

11880627_10152972334167001_3687567706140488208_nToday marks a week since I called the auto repair shop. We had been stuck in Marion, Illinois since the previous Thursday waiting for our van to be fixed. On Friday they called us early to say they were going to look at it that day. They didn’t. On Monday they called to say they thought they found the part, but they hadn’t. It would come in Tuesday. On Tuesday they didn’t call. When I called them at the end of the day, they said they still had a few more hours of work to do and hopefully it would be done tomorrow. Continue reading Hard Lessons

Beat Him!

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I usually lock the car. Today I forgot. When I was in Masi today to meet with the teens, my car alarm went off while I was inside the building. Yes, it goes off even when the door is unlocked. Because I drive a bright red car, and am usually the only bald white guy in Masi, everyone knew it was my car. So the kids came to get me. When I walked out to the car, the little crowd of kids had gathered, pointing out the perp: a little boy, maybe 6 years old. Continue reading Beat Him!

Soccer Madness

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That, my friends, is the picture of defeat. I got to take these Masi boys to see their beloved Kaizer Chiefs play soccer in Cape Town stadium. We left Masi just after 3 for a 5 p.m. kickoff. It should have only taken 40 minutes to drive to the stadium. I miscalculated the number of fans who would attend this game. We didn’t make it into the stadium before kick. Continue reading Soccer Madness

Cease Striving

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 4.44.24 PMTwo weeks ago I spoke at church about giving up everything for the Kingdom.  Cristi and I have been led by God into this place where we give up most of what is comfortable and familiar and homey and give ourselves to helping the poor and the afflicted, all for the Kingdom of God.  We have walked this road, step by step, eyes wide open.  But, sometimes the cold, hard reality hits.

At work this week, I was struck by the fact that we are giving up our “safety nets”.  Here in the US, the land of opportunity, we rely on our safety nets.  When things get hard financially, we have opportunities to help ourselves.  We might be able to work some overtime, find a second job, or even get a better job.  If things get tough enough, there is government assistance or help organizations.  I have always given lip service to trusting God for everything, but in reality, the land of opportunity is always there.  It provides a safety net if God doesn’t come through.

What struck me is that in less than four weeks,  we will be walking the tight rope without a net.  As missionaries on volunteer visas in South Africa, we cannot work.  If things get hard, I can’t deliver pizza or work the night shift at the Kroger warehouse.  We will be thousands of miles from home in a place where we only know a couple dozen people.  Wow!  Swinging from the trapeze without a net.

Of course this is nothing new for God.  The Bible is full of stories of people following Him, regardless of how crazy, and of HIm coming through each and every time.  He fed millions of people for 40 years as they wandered through the desert.  Elijah was fed by ravens.  The disciples followed homeless Jesus around for 3 years after giving up their occupations.  Each time conventional wisdom was probably not on their side, but God was.

We aren’t fully supported and we find a peace in this.  This is where God has led us.  We have been warned, cautioned and advised.  Some have prayed for doors to close and others have encouraged people to pray for us because we have “inadequate support”.  To which I think, though the whole world be against me, if God is on my side, I am happy with “inadequate support”.  Imagine Elijah telling a fellow prophet, “God had me prophesy about this drought, and now he wants me to go to a desert ravine” and the prophet replying, “Don’t go.  With this drought you will have inadequate support.”  Or after Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to drop their nets their father says, “Don’t follow that homeless rabbai.  You have inadequate support.”

We are seeking the kind of faith we find in the Bible.  But, how can we live normal 21st century, middle class American lives and expect to find an extraordinary God?  We have to give up our safety nets.  That is where we will find Jehovah Jireh, the LORD my provider.

But, the realization that this next step is so close is kind of scary.  (Of course, it is not an act of faith without the uncertainty.)  We wrestle with the tension, knowing God will provide and also knowing that if He doesn’t we are in deep, deep doo-doo.

We have already seen Him provide in amazing ways with a house and furniture.  We are certain that He has a vehicle or two already waiting for us.  God will continue to show Himself to be faithful and He will get the glory, especially because of the doubts.

God is amazing in how He orchestrates the details.  I was telling Cristi about my thoughts and discussing them with her, as I was doing some reading.  Wouldn’t you know, that a few minutes later I read Psalm 46:10, which is about the kingdom of Judah not worrying about the threats from the Assyrians, the most powerful nation in the world at the time.  God was going to protect His people.  It was appropriate for me just the same.  “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

It seems that if God can save Judah from impending doom, He can take care of the needs of a family of seven in a foreign country.

Kevin