Like Abraham, Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) missionaries Mike and Megan Ribbens are hearing God calling them to a new land.
The Ribbens have worked in Nigeria with Christian business people, politicians, church leaders, and teachers interested in applying their faith to everyday life.
In January 2014, following a six-month home service, the Ribbens will be answering a new call to serve with CRWM in Johannesburg, South Africa.
CRWM has had a limited presence in South Africa over the years. A previous missionary used to train health care professionals applying biblical principles. More recently, CRWM’s Regional Leader for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mwaya Wa Kitavi, has initiated a “Big Five” ministry approach with South African partners.
Traditionally in Africa, the “Big Five” refers to the hard-to-find wild animals seen on safari tours. For CRWM, the “Big Five” describes CRWM’s ministry foci in Eastern and Southern Africa: leadership development, Christian education, theological education, church planting, and farming in faith.
CRWM links with local and international partners in these areas to equip and strengthen local Christian leaders for applying a biblical worldview. As in Nigeria, Mike and Megan’s task will be to equip local leaders for Christ-centered transformation. Already, they’re seeing inklings of what this work may involve.
“There are people empowered by the Holy Spirit walking the long, difficult road of reconciliation. It is a great opportunity to be invited to join this walk,” says Mike.
The Ribbens plan to identify opportunities for North American youths to learn and serve with South African youths. Since half of South Africa’s population is under 19, Megan hopes her children’s participatory photography program, “Through Their Eyes,” may be useful in hospitals, orphanages, and schools.
“South Africa certainly shows residue from apartheid,” notes Mike. “Suspicion, corruption, high crime, and malaise are visible.”
Many people still rarely connect with people outside of their own ethnicity. Yet “the people, particularly the young people, remain resilient and hopeful.”