Hello, my name is Johan Bruwer. I am on the brink of a 10-month journey where I will see and be a part of the establishment of God’s kingdom in the nations. I believe that the great commission is not an option to be considered, but it is a command to be obeyed. God called me for the nations in 2018. I chose the global challenge platform to pursue a God-seeking lifestyle. We live to love others like Jesus loves us and humbly serve as an expression of this love. In this way, through our testimony, we share the good news to a world in need and see the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.
I really felt it on my heart to share with you the words of a song that I wrote the other day. It pretty much describe where I'm at:
"Be Still." Two words. Constant and always present. Having morning coffee, I hear it: "Be Still." Swimming in the clear blue ocean. Walking on snow white sand. Watching a Fiery red sunset. "Be Still." Fellowshipping with people who have become family. Listening to music, old and new. Feeling the presence of God.
We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place. We stay there even though we go away, and there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there. Kenya is such a place. It is truly like Narnia. There is something beautiful about Kenya that is thousands of years old. Too old to be truly captured by poems and songs. Loved by everyone, loved so very deeply. Kenya is everything real in a world of make believe. But even though I left some part of me behind, I also found a part of myself whom I thought was missing. I found her at a lookout point overlooking the breathtakingly beautiful plains of Massaailand. And I couldn't help thinking and knowing that I serve a God who makes the most beautiful things. We serve a God who loves us so much that He would come down to feel what we feel, to experience what we experience and even gave up His life to leave a part of Himself behind to always stay and be with us. This love, I have found, is not passive, it is never disengaged, it is always present and it hangs on every word we say. His love keeps promises, it keeps its word, it honors what is sacred and its vows are good. This love is not broken, it is not insecure, it is never selfish and is always pure. He is a good good father and He truly does not give His heart in pieces. He gives it unconditionally without is having to do anything to gain it. He loves us not only because but He also loves us despite. That is a love that conquers. He shows us this love not only in big things but in the small events of everyday life. He shows it in 14 hour roller coaster bus rides, cramped taxi game drives, swimming in breathtaking rivers, 24 hour campfires, hippo pool hikes, walking with the Massaai, worship sessions, packages from home, starry starry nights, footscrubbing sessions, nutella chapatis, heart key charms, rural house visits, tea cans, very fast bike rides, wind in your hair, Mika, laughter and so much more. So much love I do not have enough pockets to out it in. Kenya, you will forever be one of my most favorite places on earth. Home away from home. You showed me true humility and servanthood. Nothing I have I can call mine because it belongs to the one who knows the number of hairs on my head. Kenya showed me what family in Christ means and showed me firsthand what James meant when he encourages us to rejoice in suffering and to worship in trials. Tough times really do show us that we should always hold on to Jesus. God is good all the time. Keep holding on to Jesus even if the world around you shakes. Kenya You have taught me gratefulness, and if we are true in the small things, God will be true in the big things. Life is more enjoyable and even more beautiful when we hold on to Jesus. He knows what is good. If this is what it means to sit at the feet of Jesus then I will stay here forever. Jesus is everything. His love is everything. May God bless your nation and His people for you have blessed me with a gift that I can never lose. Staring at the beauty of our King. May peace and grace be yours forever. Asante sana Kenya! x x x
Five days, five countries… We travelled from Guatemala to Costa Rica, passing through El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. God really surprised me and it was such a joy to truly trust God and go wherever He had prepared for us. I had found myself laughing at the situations and places we were in because I really experienced the promises of God so practically. In Psalms 91 God says ‘If you say the Lord is my refuge and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent for He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.’
When I first laid my eyes on you and the rolling hills you sat upon. I thought what amazing luck I have that God had created such beautiful things and gave me the eyes to see them. I am forever changed by your existence. You are a place filled with so many stories and I feel so privileged to share some of these stories with you. I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can't read anything, you have only the most rudimental sense of how things work. You can't even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses. These interesting guesses were what brought our team to a lot of interesting places ranging from the far North to the ever ongoing South. You taught me the names of these cities, and I saw that each one of them tell a different story. You introduced me to people that showed me characteristics of Jesus in such a simple and beautiful way. I learnt about the importance of our dependance on God and also what it truly means when Paul writes in Philippians 4:11 "...in every situation I am to be content." I learnt that everything in life needs some sort of foundation, I came to the conclusion that Jesus must be this foundation. Just like the wise builder built his house on the rock. I learnt that rest is necessary especially when we do it in His presence. He gives answers when we listen. I learned that one smile can heal a heart that had walls so tall and painted blue, but now has a door to let people through. Ethiopia you showed me how the Father gives so much more to those He loves. We ask for one ministry point He gives us all of Ethiopia. Kindness is your specialty and somehow you grasp the importance of giving, not only things but yourselves as well. I am truly humbled by it. I will be forever grateful for these foundations you reminded me of. Thank you for showing me what love is by also showing me what it is not. I will carry it in my heart. I will carry you in my heart. YoursTill we meet again
Where do I start with the favour that we experienced from God in Mexico? I can't even explain the amazing time we had. Since we entered the Mexican airport we experienced the fullness of His favour. One of our last days in Mexico, our host took us to the Chichen Itza temple (one of the 7 world wonders) and so I'm sitting in a bus, coming back from a long day of being a tourist. It's our first time traveling with a group of tourists, we even got the sticker on our chests. Strange. While listening to some Ed Sheeran and my thoughts, I just feel so much peace. Peace that can only come from Him. With this feeling inside of me, I definitely know I'm exactly where I'm suppose to be. Surprisingly, we found out that we have a huge family that live in Mexico. It was special to spend hours and hours, having adventures and conversations with them. We even stayed up until 2am in the mornings after having a midnight adventure(driving around Wal-Mart) and eating dinner at 1am. I didn't think that I could feel so at home with people I only know for 2 weeks. He is a good good Father that really LOVES me and wants to use me for His kingdom. I could never understand why me? But now I do. Thank You Father! I can't wait so see what God has instore for me for the next few weeks! ;)
You never know what you can live without until you have to carry everything in one bag on your back -JS
Wow... its how I can sum Turkey up... wow... Jesus you made Your pressence known, You came and show me what it is like to love your neighbour as yourself, you have blessed me in abundance. You have blown my mind and captivated my heart.
After an excruciating two days of travel by bus and train and hanging out at various interesting stop over stations, we arrived in Macedonia in the middle of the night - tired, dirty and hungry. Our moods were immediately lifted when we were welcomed by our friendly hosts who received us at the train station with big smiles and joyful hearts. They treated us to a midnight feast of the biggest hamburgers we have ever seen and it was not long before realized that Macedonia, like the Middle East has a very late night culture. Nothing happens before 10 in the morning and 10 at night is a perfectly acceptable time to start a new activity.
While our first week in Nepal we focused on encouraging the churches, the second week we focused on adding to them.
There are no proper roads between Nigeria and Cameroon. At least none that we could find. The ‘main’ road between the two, at the Ekok/Ikom border post in the south has nothing ‘main’ about it. According to videos we saw and blogs we had read this piece of road was very, very bad.
Our journey from Zinder to Abuja was mostly uneventful. We said our goodbyes to Niger, crossed to border to Northern Nigeria and watched as the desert was soon replaced by lush green surroundings. The extreme poverty also gave way to a sense of prosperity and big bustling cities. The first of which was major centre of Kano.
Our bus ride to Niamey didn’t start well. It was overbooked and since we weren’t that adapt at squeezing into small spaces and rushing to open seats most of the team found themselves squeezed onto the back seat. I found myself sitting in the front of the aisle next to the driver. In West Africa they sell water in sealed-of plastic bags as opposed to bottles. It was extremely hot and we were sucking those bags dry in the dozens, our bodies seeming to slurp up every drop of moisture available.
After two weeks in Malaysia, I can honestly say that if anyone were to tell me the rest of the year's program has been cancelled and that we had to stay there until the end of the journey, I would not have minded! My heart is full of praise as sit here and try to put in words what I am currently feeling, so instead of giving a low down on our daily activities, I thought of sharing a bit of where my heart is at...
Everything in and about India is incredible. The splendour of the landscape, the majesty of historic and modern buildings, the culture, the buzz of tuc-tucs and rickshaws, and everything in between. Incredible are the people, the sights, the smells and tastes. But just as everything is incredibly good and magnificent, so are those same things and experiences incredibly bad. India is a mixing pot of every imaginable sense – sight, taste, smell, feeling - a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences!
My parents, who are missionaries in Portugal, were also in Morocco for an outreach. We planned to work together in Tiznit with a contact they had. It was great to be able to join Explore Africa with my parents and we had a great time together!
Rewinding: Leaving Canzibe, Transkei, early on the morning of 18 February, in an over packed 'bakkie' type taxi, seemed as normal and innocent as any other morning.... But what came next was yet more proof that nothing in Global Challenge is ever as it seems, least of all normal or 'innocent'! Divided into teams of 5-6 people, each person received R200 in cash and a note that read 'Transkei Challenge', and what happened after that was as unpredictable as predicting the weather!