August 2018 Harrells In South Africa
The American Invasion ------------------------------------------------------------
Winter is a special time for our family. Not only do we get a brief respite from the intense heat and the boys get three weeks off from school, but we also have begun looking forward to hearing the American accent here at Genesis. It seems like an odd thing, but the longer one is away from home, the more subtle familiarity becomes cherished.
Each year Genesis welcomes approximately 300 volunteers from the States, (this year we had 450). These volunteers flood our offices, church, and ministries with energy, assistance and outside perspectives we welcome. For our family, it has become a sweet taste of home. One cannot over state the value of culture. The commonalities, expressions, and simplicity of conversations reminded us just how fortunate we are to be able to call ourselves American. Seeing our ministries through the eyes of people, who get snapshots into what it is we do year and year out, allows us to see just how fortunate we are to be able to serve God in Africa.
In many ways, we feel as though the rights and freedoms we were granted simply by being born American citizens, allows us the privilege to live and serve the hurting people of Africa. It is a hard and humbling tension in which to live, however, we have never been more certain it is in this balance where God asks us to reside.
We feel this push and pull acutely right now, not only because we have recently had an influx of American volunteer teams here, but also because we were blessed to have some very familiar American accents around the house for a month. The boys were able to live life with grandparents, something I am sure many take for granted, but it is a privilege my boys do not normally have. Needless to say, the boys were consumed with the notion of having another set of parents around to listen to ALL of their stories and watch them do nothing out of the ordinary, and in doing so, these moments became extraordinary for all parties involved.
So, now all the American accents are gone and we feel the tension of our calling to remain behind a little more intensely than usual. We were having a bit of a pity party around our house for a few days. Everyone was down, even the pets and weather seemed to reflect our moods. It took overhearing an innocent conversation between our sons to pull everything back into its proper perspective.
Abe and Aron pray every night for God to help them show their friends the, "one, true God." Abe has become increasingly bothered by the fact his closest friend, a devout Muslim, may not end up in heaven with him. He and Aron, (whose best friend is a devout Hindu), began a dialogue about how to respectfully talk to their friends about Jesus. It was so precious for us to hear them debate the point, and to see the intense love each boy had for his friend. It was evident how badly each wanted to ensure his friend would be in heaven.
Today, our youngest sons reminded us of the only citizenship that truly matters. Our true citizenship in heaven, where there is only one culture; and that is JESUS. In a flash we were reminded of why we tarry on foreign soil. Quite simply, we remain so that the South Africans in our spheres of influence have the best opportunity possible to become eternal citizens of heaven. The American accents faded into the background, as all we could hear were our boys' voices discussing their friends' salvation.
As we sat and listened we were engulfed with peace. The vision of heaven came into focus and we thought of the ease at which all believers from every corner of the earth will one day feel understood and at home; just like we recently had with our American friends and parents. We remembered that the boundaries, limitations, and discomforts as a result of differing cultures was not the intention of our Creator, but rather the result of sin at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). Now, the only hope of regaining a singular culture/comfort is through Jesus Christ. It is up to us to extend this opportunity to the people on the South Coast of South Africa, but it is up to you to do the same where God has granted you earthly citizenship (Isaiah 12:4). We have experienced just how strong the sense of belonging is among an earthly culture. Therefore, we can promise you when we revel together in our heavenly citizenship we will ALL at last be complete.
We will be HOME.
Richard's New Role ------------------------------------------------------------ Since April Richard has been quietly easing into a new role here in South Africa. It is one we prayed over a great deal as a family before he committed and we are happy to report the transition seems to be going smoothly. Richard has accepted the responsibility of Youth Director for the joint NSC (our local church), and Genesis Youth staff. Basically, this means Richard has taken a step back from managing the gyms, he still overseas them but the day to day running of the gyms has been assigned to a new employee from the Western Cape. This development has freed up some of Richard's time to allow him to oversee, mentor, and manage the church's youth staff and interns.
We admittedly were nervous about all of the additional responsibilities, however, Richard has a peace and excitement about the opportunities he now has to set a path for comprehensive, intentional staff discipleship. It is a burden Richard has become passionate about, and he is loves spending time going deep into the WORD with young people, who feel the call to ministry in their lives.
Part of this new roll means Richard is now working closely with a Latitude Global Leadership Community. Latitude GLC was birthed out of Lake Pointe Church, Texas, and focuses on developing strong christian leadership. To learn more about this initiative you may visit
Please continue to pray for Richard and his team, as he makes the adjustments necessary. It is our earnest desire that the Lord use this opportunity to develop strong believers, who walk closely with the Lord.
Megan's Health We have been blown away by the love and support we have received from all of you during my recent health crisis. We just wanted to give you a brief update on where we are at in my health care.
As many of you are aware I started getting ill in March, and after being diagnosed with Tick Bite Fever in April, began to spiral downhill. It wasn't until June before we had a diagnosis of Chronic Rickettsia as the main underlying condition, (with a plethora of secondary infections, parasites, and illnesses just to make things interesting).
We are very happy to report, I am doing so well. I do require monthly, high dosages of two different, strong antibiotics, as well as, infusions of vitamins and minerals to build up my system. However, we are very optimistic about my progress. Today, I spent my first day back at Genesis since March, and while I am exhausted it is so good to feel like I am getting some of my former lifestyle back.
It will be a new normal for me. It is a chronic condition that requires me to follow a very strict diet, and rest as often as possible. But we are so thankful to the Lord for the progress I have made. We believe all of your prayers have been heard! Thank you so much for interceding on my behalf. Your prayers carried me through weeks of the most excruciating pain and frustrating uncertainty. Thank you.