This post began as a little “entering the new year 2016 ministry update” for my e-mail list, but it formed into something else, my thoughts – musings with God – as God just breathed a little WITH-NESS/sturdiness/His Voice into me. I sent it out, but it is a little “musey” and “wordy” so maybe it would fit here… And speak to you too.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:1-6)
I think that is my mantra, my goal, my resolution – if you will – for 2016. (Though I didn’t resolve to make 2016 resolution/s… Moving on…)
I tried to figure out so many things this past year: identity, wholeness, healing, rest, and stability (and not being overwhelmed)… even Being With “God With Us.” And that’s all good… in a way.
I’ve read the news and seen at some of the photographs of the Flight MH17 crash site in Ukraine. People’s lives lost – like that – all of a sudden. I cannot imagine what people are feeling.
I just dropped off a friend at the airport last night. Second airport run in a week. After I came back from the first airport run, I read on Facebook how guys are throwing something on the road to puncture car tires, Once someone stops, they hijack the car (http://www.news24.com/Travel/South-Africa/Travellers-warned-of-hijacking-risk-near-Cape-Town-airport-20140715). I made that drive alone a couple days after these reports happened. And I just drove there again. Thankfully, a friend hopped in the car so I wouldn’t have to drive back alone. Now I would normally feel fine about it, but the image just couldn’t get out of my mind.
People were held at knife point on my friend’s street the other day, just two blocks away. I walk there all the time. Stuff happens here. And there are worse stories…
Every time I watch a movie about the Bosnian conflict I get transported back to when I lived there for two months in 2001. And my heart hurts for the people and places I knew. Again, so much devastation – what realpeople went through. What people are going through around the world, Ukraine, Syria, Gaza, Iraq, in Africa… and many more.
Today isn’t about fear for me, but it’s about feeling and unfeeling.Nor is it about placing a Band-Aid of words where no words can aid the heart.
I wonder what do I do with this, this emotion, this hurt, this information? Is this what I do, “categorize it” as “information” so I can just gloss over it and continue about my day? …Without stopping, without seeing?
Or I can stop for a second.
I know we all can’t jump on a plane and help, and I don’t know what each of our roles is to play. Nor do I know what my role is. But I don’t what to gloss over what PEOPLE in the world are going through – the injustice – the need for justice, for freedom, for love and care, to know Grace and Light – to be seen as human, just as valuable as you and me.
I know I can’t understand what people are experiencing. But please know my heart goes out to you, I cry with you, I sit with you, I hold you.
(Above Gogo Olive Knitting Workshop *Photography by Felicity Davies)
I’m back from Zimbabwe. But for about two weeks since I was down and out with a miserable cold, which made thinking past the end of my nose quite difficult. I’ve had plenty written, but I’ve felt this pressure that I’ve placed on myself. I really didn’t know how to express to you WHAT I experienced – in a nutshell – and to do it justice. So “it’s” all been ruminating in my head and on computer screen, which I hope has been a good thing.
How The Journey Began
It all started with a casual, “thrown out there” invitation from our visiting friend Ruth to Felicity and me. Something like, “Hey, you can come to Zimbabwe and paint a mural on a prison wall.” And we said something like, “Okay.” And then – it happened! (There were a few other details involved and prayers, but that’s pretty much it.)
So we bought our tickets and then our paintbrushes at the building supply store, packed our bags, and we were off! Zimbabwe is two hops away by plane, and I believed flying the preferable choice considering this country had an “air of adventure” to us and an “air of danger” to our computer and camera equipment.
Felicity and I visited Ruth and Julie Hagen, lovely (as my British traveling companion Felicity says), funny, and energetic sisters from Scotland and the job creation program Gogo Olive, and we had hopes of painting that mural, filming, serving our friends, and being open to anything that came our way. (“Came our way” included watching India Premiere League Cricket, which I can now attest to understanding and actually enjoying.)
Hoping to bless our friends by making a video for their ministry, we filmed, photographed, and interviewed the ladies at Gogo Olive – Felicity, being the photographer/videographer-amazingness, and I, the question asker/interviewer. I think we really just jumped in with both feet and not knowing what we were doing, but hey, it worked out great! I found out that I really love interviewing people. It was amazing to chat with the ladies and hear their stories of life, finding God, and how Gogo Olive has helped them. And I so was humbled to share a devotion with them about being created with value in the image of God and that Felicity and I could pray for them.
Julie Hagen began Gogo Olive by accident, she told me, as she taught ladies how to knit African animals. Somehow, this idea caught on, and these animals are sold around the world today! Seriously, Julie is SO creative. Gogo Olive now employs approximately sixty ladies who are able to provide income for their families. In a country with high unemployment this is such a blessing. As we spoke with the ladies, Chido shared,
“It was very difficult because my husband was not working at that time and difficult in finding rent because it’s very expensive here in Zimbabwe so my mother used to help me with that. And right now it’s easy because I can do the rents myself and I can buy my own things.”
Money just to pay for basic needs
“I like them [my children] to be teachers, doctors, head masters…”
Dreaming that her children have greater opportunities and better lives
Prison – To Be Continued…
Gogo Olive also reaches out to women in prison, who can earn income by knitting and are able to continue with Gogo Olive once their prison term is completed. But I’m being too lengthy in this post… I think I’ll devote another post to tell you about my time in prison!
I am so thankful for my time in Zimbabwe and am so blessed by Ruth, Julie, the ladies at Gogo Olive and the prison, and the friends we made and who welcomed us into their homes and lives. I praise God for how He is moving in hearts and lives in Zimbabwe, And I believe God is truly using Julie and Ruth!
Two Scottish young women with their hearts planted in Zimbabwe.
A land and people whom I imagined broken.
But what I encountered was love, perseverance, hope, and joy.
People who love their neighbors.
People who persevere through difficult times.
People who find hope behind prison walls.
People who live joy because they know the author of joy.
And may they find faith that at every sunset there is a sunrise in the morning.
In Joyline’s words,
“I need prayer to let Gogo Olive be in Zimbabwe
for a long time in order for us widows to get something
to help our children because as widows life is hard.
…keep on praying for Julie and Ruth
because they did a very great, great thing to us.
They didn’t expect it…but because of God’s grace to us
they gave us a job to help us.”
Please continue to pray for the people
and country of Zimbabwe.
And if you’d like to learn more about Gogo Olive,
the amazing knitting ladies, and the animals they knit,
please visit their website at http://www.gogo-olive.com/
(Above photo: Death stare because I realize I’m not drinking coffee… *Photography credit: Felicity Davies)
I have wondered what to write here for a while now… This isn’t my first blog. I believe I’m entering a new season in South Africa as I started working with Creative Communications for YWAM Muizenberg – Cape Town and it’s training schools and ministries. (You can read more about me here: https://shannonmintz.com/mystory ) My passions are to value and empower people, and so I hope to do this through mentoring, discipleship, and communications with YWAM Muizenberg but also through writing – on this blog! (I am on a journey of discovery here so it doesn’t stop there!)
I desire to share with you stories of the amazing ways God is an integral and transformative part of my life and of others’ lives, my ponderings from the Word, my thoughts, experiences, and crazy imagination, and whatever else tickles my fancy… Did I really just write that? i.e. news, books, movies, t.v. – You will find I love a good story!
But I also hope to be real with you as life in not just peaches and cream, but I’m an empathetic being (meaning I “feel” other people’s pain, and cry a lot). This is hard for me as I am learning to be vulnerable and to trust you, the reader, with my writing – and through this I reveal a lot of my heart (so please if you would, be kind). I may share my hard stuff, questions, or difficult subjects, well, because I like to be challenged and to think deeply and in new ways.
Finally and mostly importantly, the great God I serve will me made apparent because He is where I and this world originate. And I am learning to voice gratefulness in everything and to dance through the tension of this life and the next – because I am His beloved daughter, a partaker in His Kingdom, and He is WITH ME.
And I’d love for you to journey with me! Thanks for reading, and Enjoy!