About Joe Reed

Director of NieuCommunities South Africa (a division of Church Resource Ministries).

Blessings

I knew that in November, we were going to be faced with a huge amount of expenses with Ezra preparing to enter 1st grade and Keziah needing to start school in January as well.  Both kids were going to need enrollment charges paid.  Ezra needs to have uniforms for school and the book fees were going to be coming up as well.  Honestly… had no idea how we were going to get that covered.

Thanks to many of your generous hearts, there were enough one time donations sent in during the month of October to cover these expenses!!!  It was like God looked at us and said, “what were you saying to me about freaking out?” and BOOM!

We really appreciate your generous hearts over the month of October!  We look forward to sharing more stories of God’s kingdom coming in Pretoria… stories that your investments make possible.  Thanks again everyone!

Milestones

Today marks a major milestone for NieuCommunities.  It was two years ago that I took on the role of directing this community with the hopes that we would become a South African led community.  Part of that milestone was that we go from 75% American/25% South African and make it the other way around.  As our community has grown and other North Americans are answering the call to go elsewhere, Natalie and I are the last remaining North Americans in the community.

Granted, in a few months, we’re inviting a North American intern, and our friend from Canada will be re-joining us after his wedding in Rwanda… but this is a pretty massive point of celebration for us.  God still has a quite a few more markers for us to accomplish in this ultimate transition to South African leadership, but this milestone was one of the more difficult ones.  It has been an amazing journey and the ways South Africans in our community accompany us in our transformation and mission are having deep significance in our journeys with the Lord.

Thank you all so much for your continued love, prayer, and support along this way.  This is yours to celebrate with us!

The Silence of Christ

This comes from a reflection I offered our community recently.  It has been a source of deep communion in my own heart and I wanted to share it wider.

“Go pray about that, and you will find your answer.”  The Yoda like response from every Sunday School teacher I ever had.  The favorite catch phrase at the end of countless sermons I have ever heard.  Yet, when up against a wall with no clue which way to turn, many find themselves in this place on their faces begging God for a clue.

And then there’s silence.

What do you do with the silence of Christ?

I was meditating on the passage in John 1.35-39.  Jesus is simply walking back to the place he was staying.  Two of John’s comrades saw Jesus and just started walking behind him.  Jesus invited them to come check out the place he was staying and that was it.  Insignificant story?  Not even close.

They walked away from the pinnacle of a ministry career.  John is baptizing the crowds.  They got to play in THAT playground.  They hit the big time!  But somehow they knew the glamor there was NOTHING of what being with Jesus would bring.  But in that space, Jesus didn’t answer the hard questions about their purpose for existence.  I imagine he took them back and made them a cup of coffee.  They chilled together.  Maybe they even raced back to the house (you know, ‘cus Jesus was such a jokester like that).

I have sensed in the last month that prayer is far too often us going and looking for solutions to our problems only to be greeted by a warm cup of coffee in the place Jesus is sleeping that night.  No answers.  Just that big goofy Jesus grin pouring us a warm treat.  Perhaps the silence of Jesus is the invitation to peace in the storm.  The answer of “what do I do now with my life” is answered by “Chill.  Sit here and let’s linger for a bit.  In time, and in stride you will see.”

This is no excuse to stop working and following leads.  God brings those things our ways and we must pursue those options.  But He’s extending a hand of peace and solitude in the midst of the chaos of our bigger questions.  Linger in that space and feel that pleasure while you go.  After all, when it’s all said and done, every knee will be bowing at his feet in any case.

Question on Missional

For months now, I’ve been wanting to write more about this, but felt like it might come across wrong or be misunderstood.  But there has been a growing fear in me about this word “missional” that runs around Christianity.  My fear stems from what I’ve witnessed in America and South Africa, so by no means is it global.  But in these two contexts… I’m concerned.

There’s a sense of pressure that comes from “being missional” that leads us to action oriented tasks.  The more you do, the more connected to the heart of God you must be.  We wear “burnt out” like a badge of honor forgetting that Jesus never got to that point himself.

I read this from a Dutch Reform pastor today that sums up my question, “Develop disciples and see people on mission with God. Get people on mission and what do you get? Are they actually on mission WITH God?” – Attie Nel

My questions go on… do we actually know the people we’re serving or are we actually abusing them for our own sense of accomplishment?  What’s the function of missional projects?  How do we view transformation of our hearts towards God in this age of “being missional”?  If we keep on the path of saying that taking people to projects or on outreach, we will lose what comes in the solitude spaces.  If we stay in the solitude spaces, we lose the going out.  Are we just swinging the pendulum back and forth, or is there actually a holistic way to form ourselves into the image of God.

These are the questions our communities wrestles with.

Great Deal of Thanks!!!

We wanted to thank everyone who has been following our blogs & various other updates for all of your generosity last month. While we are still in the process with the Department of Education concerning Ezra’s schooling for next year, your generosity last month will make it possible for us to cover his admissions fees at any of the school’s they decide to put us into!

We really can’t begin to thank you all enough! God really used you to alleviate some a big portion of the stressors we’ve been under in this matter! Thanks again!

Question about “Missional”

I taught a bit about this yesterday, so I thought I’d just share some questions with our blog friends.

  • In our drive to be “missional,” how well do we know the hearts and stories of those we’re serving?
  • Out of what motivational space are we serving others?
  • How much guilt do we feel or inflict as it relates to service?
  • How’s your own soul been lately, and please tell me I’m not the first one to ask you that question in 6 months!?!?

If you know me well, you know I cringe at the buzz words of Christianity (it all started with “seeker-sensitive,” now it’s “missional”).  I always feel like the pendulums swing so far to the other sides that we neglect holistic transformation in community with Jesus & other people who follow Him too.

So in case you saw the twitter conversations yesterday, this is where some of that came from.

the grace of pain

this is just a test theory…

Sometimes God graces us with the truest realities of man to open us up for more healing.

Sounds pretty… but it’s really the hardest thing ever.  And we must choose to go through these opportunities to feel the fullness of their offerings.

responding to crisis

It has been a roller coaster of emotions since Natalie and two of our kids were robbed last week. As you can imagine, a situation like this unearths deeper issues making the healing process very confusing. I do not believe I have fully regained my footing yet, but there have been glimmers that I needed to write down. This not only for my own healing, but perhaps as a dialog for all of our healing.

In moving towards the one pain of this one event, I’m finding multiple layers of pain. The pain of the two thieves who were desperate to take advantage of a woman with her children. The pains of a society that keep us resorting towards fear and anxiety. The pains of all humanity.

I want to be a person who weeps not because I was wronged but because people who wrong others are wronged themselves. I want to be one who consistently extends the peace of Christ, tearing down my fences as opposed to building them higher. But I am abundantly aware there is no possibility of accomplishing this on my own. In communion God invites me to a community that holds my hands while we move towards the mission of our context. May we continue to pursue peace and weep for those who find comfort in the violence of war in our societies.

Complex Questions

One of the people I’m coaching at the moment has been wrestling through some very amazing questions.  I asked if I could share some of these so others might start asking the same ones.  I hope these wreck you as it they have been him (and me consequently).

  • Why do I worship, sit, socialize, etc… only with people who are the same as me?
  • What realities are at play that keep me from drawing towards those who think or look different than me?
  • What does it take to undo these realities and enter into real relationship?
  • What would I gain from that?  What would they gain from that?  What would the kingdom gain from that?
  • What would we all lose?

 

September Update – Ninja Story

Almost a year ago, I met William Taute.  He was sharing his heart in at our church about the ongoing racial tensions in his residence hall.  His heart was bleeding out on the table as he described the situation.  It moved me deep in my bones, so I asked him to have coffee with me that week.

What transpired was a regular set of meetings where we walked together towards a solution.  William found eleven other leaders in the hall and we began forming a leadership community.  That community of leaders was tasked with one objective : stop the racial tensions in the residence hall by spreading love.

Every week, we look to the scripture to guide our journey as a community of leaders.  What has transpired in a very short time has been unthinkable.

  • The house parent (Residence Hall Director) has told the group how much of a difference he has seen because of the group.  Conflict in general, and more specifically, racial conflict, have dropped more dramatically in the last six months than ever before in his entire tenure at the University.
  • The leadership community has grown to 16 students and is considering increasing their core objectives for next year to include a massive discipleship movement.  Each “ninja” being tasked to disciple a minimum of 3 other students in the residence.
  • In the last month alone, three students have begun following Jesus.  One of those just recently was baptized.
  • Leadership is shifting from William to two others as William graduates and takes the DNA of the Ninjas to his next location.

Think about this in the long term.  Every year, Ninjas will graduate and take this experience of the gospel all over the world.  As they move on, they are being replaced with a fresh group of inspired leaders for South Africa’s future.  This movement is much broader than one small residence hall in the corner of Pretoria University!!!