As we approach the end of our 10-month sabbatical, you may be wondering, “What’s next for the Stewart family?” Or you may be asking, “What, they’ve been in America for 10 months??” Well friends, let me say a bit about each of those (stay with me, this gets progressively more interesting as it goes). First, our sabbatical has been amazing – restful, memorable, shaping, fun. We have so much to write about our time that I will start a little “series” tomorrow on sabbatical highlights (in no particular order). Much of what we have experienced and learned is shaping our sense of what’s next. And I know that many of you really want those details. So…
The next 3 weeks
- We are having a goodbye party this Saturday (15th) in Fresno! It’s on open house, come by whenever, stay as long as you’d like deal 12:00-5:00. Here’s the event link on fb or contact me if you want details.
- We are speaking at Friends Community Church (Fresno) this Sunday morning, then having a birthday party for the boys in the afternoon (including Arthur Paul’s baptism)
- Next week will be our last week in Fresno
- We are heading down to SoCal May 22-30. We will be at Foothills Community Church (Pasadena) on May 23. We have some people to visit and a few fun things to do during the week, but if you would like to see us, let me know and we might be able to make it happen
- On June 1, we are getting on an airplane and flying back to South Africa
June and July
We will spend two months (June and July) discerning God’s call for our family to be in South Africa. This is what we have felt for some time, and now we need to listen together on the ground. Is Cape Town the right place for us now? We also want to reconnect with lots of friends and colleagues. By the end of July, we will decide if we are staying in South Africa or if there is a better place for us. If we stay, we will be leaving our current missions agency to partner with local people and ministries. If we are leaving, we will say goodbye to South Africa and join an existing Church Resource Ministries team outside SA.
That’s the pragmatics. But what is this Cape Town thing all about? Very simply, we want to see people – ourselves included - live the lives we were created to live. We believe the God who created and loves us makes this possible as we follow Jesus and allow his Spirit to continually awaken our deepest hearts and freeing us to become the amazing, beautiful, different, yet TRUE US. We also believe that we need each other to help us be different and together make a difference in our neighborhoods and world. This can take place LOTS of ways, so here’s where praying and exploring and asking God: who God has made us to be + our experiences, skills, and desires + the realities and needs of our family + the people and place we think God is calling us to be with = WHAT?
We think it might look something like this for us:
Living in a diverse neighborhood, loving neighbors, bringing people together. We are feeling the Woodstock neighborhood in Cape Town could be the one because of friendships we have there, its urban/cosmopolitan needs and opportunities, and the way we can picture our family living and flourishing
Helping people (particularly those who are often overlooked or left out) connect with, experience, and grow in God – especially in new, different, and “outside the box” ways that help change lives… one-on-one, ongoing groups, events, etc.
Working with local non-profits, ministries, and churches through teaching, training, and lending a hand – we want to help others who are also making a difference
Encouraging and equipping local leaders to have a reaching and lasting impact on their communities, especially through new and different types of faith communities
Participating in a regular friendship with other local and global practitioners – finding ways to collaborate for greater impact and strengthen one another in our journeys of following and serving Jesus
Oh, I could write so much more here, but this will have to do for now. This was, after all, supposed to be an update – not a presentation! This is what we are going to explore. We will be in the place. We will be with the people. We will see what what God does and says. We are trusting that the specifics and next steps will become clear in the process.
Here’s where you come in!
- Pray for us – now as we wrap everything up here (craziness, I tell you) & and as we listen with God there. We will be updating/reminding you throughout
- Do it with us – stay in regular conversation, find ways to help, support our family in this ministry with some monthly money, love us. I feel a little weird asking for these, but know we need them!
More to come, but figured this would give you a little to chew on for now.
Arthur for the Stewarts