Anyways, this first blog is a "set-up blog." A filler-blog, if you will. I have to let you know how I have made the decision to go to Africa this up-coming summer. First of all, after years of searching for a church that fits my personal Christian Journey, I have found one! The church I attend in Grand Rapids, Keystone Community Church, will always be home to me...but this one is feeling more and more like family. Especially after becoming quite involved in the church. First of all, you probably want to know the name. Its called New Covenant Free Methodist Church, located in Clio, Michigan.. Here's a link:
You can visit that at your leisure. It's a fantastic church that I have made new friends at quickly. I volunteer at the coffee shop located in the front of the church. Any of you who know me well, know that I worked at a coffee shop for 4 years during college. That has made the coffee gig quite a breeze. Also, I have been playing guitar with the church band located in the entrance of the building. We have been playing Christmas music lately, but also find time to re-create some Miles Davis of John Coltrane (which isan't half bad either).
The Church has had ties with the South Africa area for some 7 years now, and it recently, by God's will, started it's very own church in Swaziland. Here is a picture of where we are headed. In fact, over Labor Day weekend this past summer, they did a live video "first communion," with the Swazi's new church and ours back in Michigan...all via- satellite. How cool is that? It really caught my eye, and I felt drawn to help the African people. More about that in just a second... So here I am with a new church, a new job, and a new life. I live alone in an a quiant little appartment with all my gadgets and gizmo's. Much of my time is spent working at the T.V. station, playing guitar, lifting at the gym, coaching soccer, or staring at my new snowboard and wishing for snow! Gotta love Michigan ;-) My latest journey is heading to Africa for some Missions work with New Covenant Church.
It was a grueling application process where 45 people applied from the church, and only 12 positions where available to head to Africa (because of transportation issues in the actual country). There where refference forms that family and friends filled out for me. (By the way, thanks to all of you who did that for me. It meant a lot!) And I finally recieved a letter of acceptance. Here is a picture of the original 12. Something that has recently been a blessing is that we just found out that more transportation has been arranged in the area, and they have now accepted EVERYONE that applied to trip! (A new picture of the whole group will be posted A.S.A.P.) How amazing! Clio, Michigan U.S.A. will be represented by 25 people, taking time from there lives, to spread the love of God in Africa! You see, we are traveling to a very remote area of Swaziland. Transportation is VERY limited down there. We originally only had 2 vans to transport people...More means of transportation are being made available. How cool is that! God is listening...and I feel so privaledged to be a part of his will. I am not traveling to Africa for any evangalistic aspect. In fact, I have absolutely no intentions of that at all. I want to show my love for God through my service to others. At New Covenant, we learned about Tithing. Not only money, but our time and our abilities in the name of the church. It was an interesting quote that our pastor shared with us one Sunday that really struck a chord with me. It is actually a quote from Gahndi:
"The best way to find yourself, is to loose yourself in the service of others."
I think this quote is so powerful. I want to live my life like this. I think Africa is a good start. Did you know that there is estimated to be 143 Miliion orphans in the world? 43 Million live in Africa! This number is increasing daily due to the AIDS Pandemic sweeping through the country. In fact, in some countries of Sub-Sahara Africa, 46% of the general population is HIV positive. Here is a picture of a bracelet on my wrist. This is the ONE bracelet.
I want to be the liaison between this troubled country and yourself. Let me open your eyes. Follow me through this journey. It won't be something any of us soon forget.
"Compassionate Life Foundation is a non-denominational organization seeking to be God's hands and feet showing love and compassion to the poor and needy people of the world. Partnering with those whom God directs us to who are already on the front lines fighting the war on poverty, disease, and spiritual emptiness, with a special focus on caring for Orphans and Widows."
Here is a link to the Compassionate Life Foundation website:
I seek your support both spiritually and financially over the next 6 months. Your support to make this trip possible is an answer to prayers. Sit tight....there is so much more to come. I will post more soon! Please feel free to post comments. Remember, this is a great way for communication! Thanks again everyone! I love all of you.
Derek Van Dam