Mar 1 2016

African Social Justice: Matters of Survival -The Gospel, Skills, Self-Sustainability

The Mvumbi Project is moving forward. We’re here outside Elukwatini, South Africa and we want to send along a progress report. There are open doors that we are walking through with the Mvumbi “Nourishing Rain” Project that can have a big impact on the local community, and can bring increased capacity to area ministries.
‘practical

"Silulus awaiting Inkukhus".  Baskets awaiting egg-laying chickens. Process moves forward, awaiting new life, production, and some clucking. Like Mvumbi Project

“Silulus awaiting Inkukhus”.
Baskets awaiting egg-laying chickens. Process moves forward, awaiting new life, production, and some clucking.

The exciting news is that in the last month the following expressions’ of ministry – how local people can become economically self-sustaining as they are becoming disciples of Christ- have begun to emerge. Food Tunnels/Greenhouses, Micro-Bakeries, and Construction Tool Skills Trainings are three new open opportunities to bring prosperity, self-sufficiency, and a dynamic faith into the region. Here’s more on the agricultural project:

* Agricultural ‘micro-projects’ – building 10 ‘food tunnels’ (greenhouses) and implementing a ‘master gardener’ and apprenticeship program. Each 32′x16′ tunnel will provide a continuous supply of fresh vegetables to over 100 children, as well as full-time employment to one local person. Plans are for the tunnels to both improve food quality for the 2000+ vulnerable children being fed daily at Emoyeni & Spark Foundation care points, as well as decrease dependence on overseas food donations – a move toward ministry self-sustainability.
Additionally, the tunnels will provide a skills training incubator for the local community. In ten tunnels, a master gardener can train 75 apprentices and 10 skilled gardeners each year. Each apprentice completes a thirty day service, shares in the fresh produce, and earns all the training, seeds,seedlings,fencing, poles, and shade cloth to start his own large garden. Each skilled gardener has served a six month apprenticeship and has the horticultural skills, tools and supplies, and small business training to move into a micro-loan program toward building his own food tunnel. He also serves as the training catalyst and supplier for his neighbors to start effective small garden plots, “Square Foot Gardens”, impacting a growing segment of the community.
The Mvumbi approach looks to develop the ‘whole man’; just as apprentices are equipped to become self-sustaining economically, they are also daily equipped with life skills, character development training, and tools to help in loving and following Jesus.

In the next postings we’ll share more regarding other micro-enterprise/discipleship programs within the Mvumbi Project. Let us know what you think.
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Interested in making disciple-making disciples? Don’t know how to do it, whether in your own culture or across cultures? Check our these tools; we’d love to get you more information. No curriculum other than the Bible. Drop us a note and we’ll send you notes and links. Free.


Dec 19 2015

Immanuel – God with Us. What does that look like today?

“Immanuel” – God With Us!  What Does That Look Like Today?
“For to us a child is born… and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace

there will be not end.”  

Isaiah 9: 

6-7.  The prophet Isaiah spoke this truth across 700 years of troubled history, pointing to Christmas and the birth of Jesus, the fullness of Immanuel. God is now with us!
  The questions in our day are;
  • “What will Immanuel -God with us- look like for this young man and his generation?
  • “What does ‘Of the increase of his government and peace’ look like today, and what is our role, that ‘there will be no end’?

At Meniscus, we are committed to walking with this young generation – in Africa and the Appalachians- into the fullness of forgiveness, restoration, and overcoming that Jesus paid the price for over two thousand years ago.

 

For us that has two nodes of focus; the new Mvumbi Project of holistic discipleship in South Africa, and the Appalachian School of Ministry and Missions in Boone NC. Both are built upon our decade of experience with great partners in Southern Africa and our nearly three decades of public ministry.

 

We hope you are encouraged in your walk with Jesus today, for every follower is a minister and every place is a mission field. We’d love to have you join in our work.

   Immanuel is present here and now. 2100 years after the first Christmas, Immanuel is still with us. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God with us.
Hoping you have a rich Christmas with Him

 


Aug 15 2015

Above & Beyond, Poured out & Filled for the Young

Meet Pastor Pehle (not her real name), a woman of many hats and talents. She is a primary grade teacher in the

Pastor Pehle - a powerful woman

Pastor Pehle – a powerful woman

Elukwatini area of  South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province. She also helps financial ends meet by running a small “tuck shop” beside her house – selling snacks, cold drinks, and basic food items. But Pehle’s real passion is to see the love and mercy of Jesus impact the youth of her community. She pastors two churches and runs a feeding and care point for vulnerable children from a kitchen in the back of her shop. She is an empowered woman who prays and does the work of Jesus.

We met Pehle during a leadership training workshop in which we shared at the new eDwandeli “On the Rock” ministry training center established last year by our friends at Emoyeni and Spark Foundation.  She is one of the 40-60 Christian leaders participating weekly in a growing network of churches linked through the center.

When we visited Pehle in her home a couple weeks ago she asked us to pray with her for the Elukwatini community. Two gangs – the “Wrong Turn Gang” and the “Vandals” – had recently moved into the hills and had abducted, raped, and killed three young teenage girls as they walked home from school. The police seemed powerless to halt the growing violence.

eDwaleni "On the Rock" Ministry Training Center

eDwaleni “On the Rock” Ministry Training Center

As you read this article, would you please pray for Pehle, the community, its young people, and the work of the eDwaleni Center? Your prayers are effective in pulling down evil strongholds.

We are honored and excited to be invited to join in ministry with amazing people like Pehle in the coming days, to see the young people and the community transformed by the power of a living Jesus.

 

 


Jun 2 2014

Miraculous Math:1 + 2 + 3= 28? African Reality

Just processing gettting back from Africa, and I need to process with you before the ‘burn’ and its glow wears off.  Kind of like the need to put a pad of paper on your nightstand so you can write down God-dreams before they can fade; I need to record some of the occurrences and details of my May in South Africa before they fade. Trusting that these recollections are both for your encouragement and my own direction.

So… the miraculous math. I am the ONE. My calendar was to host a Brothers for Life camp early in May for some 22 IMG_1107young men who’ve been drawn together in the troubled townships of South Africa. It was a great and amazing time -more stories on that in the coming days- but over the last several years with the core of these Brothers I have become “Babe (pronounced “baa baa”) Scott”… part dad, part grandpa, part older brother.

We are working toward ‘incorporated’  lives; growing in a love and lifestyle-walk with Jesus, developing life skills and job skills and moving into micro-enterprises of self-sufficiency. That is the vision. And it must be built upon change, growth, maturity from the inner man of each Brother. Enduring change comes from the inside out. My passion is for this growth, our tool is the Discovery Bible process whereby these young men discover God and his love for each of them. I cannot force the ‘discovery’, nor can I ‘teach’ into discovery;  each young man must discover for himself, in agreement with the Spirit of God, through the Scriptures. Then enduring change can come… from the inside out.

And so the Three. Three young men who attended the Brothers camp asked if we could help them launch a Brothers group in their neighborhood. So I and two other core Brothers went and met with some fifteen young guys from Mashiyo met under a tree to try an intro Discovery study and to discuss the interest in a Brothers Mashiyo Discovery group. “We will think on it” was the consensus, and so the meeting closed.

The next week I came back under the tree at the appointed time and only two guys were there. I was prepared to be disappointed; yet within ten minutes it was evident that the guys had been talking throughout the community and decisions had been made. And so the TWENTY-EIGHT. Twenty eight young men gathered under the shade of the tree, as we clustered into three small groups and engaged with James 1:27, “This is religion that God our Father approves of; that you care for the widow and orphan in your midst and keep yourself from being corrupted by this world.”

The young men were energized. From within these ‘tough guys’ came amazing insights and heart-desires; yearnings to become men of honor and respect, to make their community safe for the vulnerable, a hunger to help the needy, and heart to walk together as men with Jesus. These guys want jobs, income, food, housing, to provide for their families, and the respect that self-sufficiency brings. But, they also want to become men… real men who walk and talk with their God.

Miraculous Math.

IMG_1829 Mashiyo Brothers, mtg 2, big group

I am in awe of whaour Father is doing. I just want to agree with and help facilitate what He is up to. What a privilege to be a part of this.  Your participation in prayer support for Space, Sypho, Jonas, Terrance and the other Brothers of Mashiyo is vital and appreciated. More stories to come.


Feb 17 2014

Hurts So Good…. Turning 60 and the forgotten Normal Life

I want to whine.

I dropped a log on my toe as I loaded the wood stove this morning. Not a little log, a big barked half-trunk section. On my big toe. On the nail bed. Lots of swelling, lots of purple. I almost passed out. I now hobble like a drunken sailor. Funny when I think of it, but it hurts like hell.

It gets worse.

I turn 60 years old today. Ugh. Not pretty, on many levels. There’s a dreary eight inches of snow on the ground, I

Turning 60 and re-discovering the Normal Life

Turning 60 and re-discovering the Normal Life

don’t like what aging does to my body, my wife is out of town, my kids scattered from Atlanta to California, I have a mountain of admin work to do, and more Projects than Payroll. I don’t want to get old. I can’t find my boots.

I want to whine, but I’ve got to quit that.

And that’s why I am writing. I am having one of the best birthdays ever. Bear with me on this.

Part One… Saturday

It started Saturday night. Becky and I defied the icy roads to have dinner with three other couples about our same age (we don’t usually get to hang out with other folks our age). All good folks, all different backgrounds, all restless in the seasons of their lives, and all hungry for whatever God is trying to do these days. Transparent, authentically trustworthy, well-seasoned folks. I’d refer to them all as “weight-bearing” in character. A great evening of good food, a little wine, and fun conversation. After desert we each shared, completing the line ”What is God doing in my life…”. The air just got ‘richer’ as each person shared -no bragging, no white-washing, no whining- just authentic sharing.

Then we prayed together. Sweet, kind, simple God-in-our-midst-in-togetherness prayers. And He was in our midst,we all knew it and we felt honored for such a time together. It felt wonderfully normal. The evening ended with an awareness that we are now ‘brothers and sisters’ bound together. None of us are alone. We know we are tied with these growing friendships into the Body of Christ. Nothing more, but surely nothing less. No other agendas. It was soooo good.

All too rare in most of our lives…. but part 1 of 2 of the coolness of my birthday.

 Part Two…. Sunday

So Sunday afternoon I meet with some other folks to prepare a monthly dinner for one hundred people at our local homeless/transitional housing center. A good group of eight of us gather; half men, half women, including a couple teen-agers. Some are our core regulars (we’ve been doing this since last April) and some are first-timers. With such a big group, we have our hearty meal for one hundred twenty five people prepared in 1 1/2 hours. We have enough helpers that we can all be relaxed as we serve the dinner, and a couple of us roam the room and visit with the diners. As folks line up to be served, I simply stood up and asked in my ‘big room voice’ for permission to pray for everyone as they passed by, asking God to bless them as they picked up their meal. No big deal, no pressure, nothing awkward. Most everyone smiled and nodded in agreement. And so I simply made eye contact and prayed aloud as folks filed past, lifting them up to God and asking Jesus to help them in their difficulties and make himself and his goodness known to them in fresh ways. I spent some time visiting with diners, then went back into the kitchen to help clean up.

The kitchen crew were all sharing that something has changed in the atmosphere of our time at the center. Diners and residents who had originally eaten and quickly left the room are now coming back for seconds (the food is really good!), but more significantly, they are coming up to visit and engage us in conversation. We are becoming friends with these people; they are friends -not projects- going through difficult times. And God is changing the atmosphere. The kitchen crew is having a great time of increasing fellowship together in our activities and we are having a great time with those we came to serve. God is inhabiting this activity and we can all sense it.

A friend came in from visiting in the dining room and shared with the crew that one of the ladies eating dinner had walked by my ‘prayer post’ just as I was asking the Lord to release jobs in the community. She got her food, sat down to eat, and immediately got a phone call from a local business asking if she could start work next week. The atmosphere in the kitchen changed. While earlier we were enjoying what God was doing, now we were a bit in awe and in an expectant state of anticipation.

 

A few minutes later a sharp young man,“Mike”,came to the kitchen door asking for some help. He’d developed kidney stones, lost his job, spent a week in the hospital and needed $11 for medication before his doctor’s appointment next week. I agreed to give him the funds on two conditions; that he let me pray for his healing, and if Jesus healed him before his medicine took effect that he would agree to tell the doctors and nurses what He’d done… that Mike would give Jesus the credit and honor. He agreed wholeheartedly and joined me eagerly in prayer. We both sensed that God was with us as we prayed together, and we both left with a sense of wonder at our meeting. God really loves Mike.

 

The kitchen crew finished up our work and we all stepped out into the cold of the evening and got in our cars. We all lingered a bit, in no hurry to leave one another. Our last conversations and shared thoughts were appreciation the special time we get to spend together and thanksgiving for how the Lord showed up in the midst of our time together. It was a great day.

The End

And so, with my big toe throbbing and my foot propped up, I’m here to tell you that I am having one of the best birthdays ever. I got to be in real Church this weekend; that place where people -all kinds of people- are aware of, in awe of, and reflect to one another, the glory of the living God in our midst.

 

I will most probably get jaded and cynical and mean-spirited in the coming year, but today I am writing this to you -and to myself- to remind us all that what I experienced this weekend was “the normal life” – the life we are all hard-wired for in our very design – a life of sharing our hearts, burdens, and experiences with others in an atmosphere where we invite and expect the Living God to join us. It’s real. He’s real.

I’d almost forgotten; I’d gotten so used to so much less..

I’m committed to living a Normal Life this year. Whatever it takes.

Be encouraged. I am.

 

Now I’m going to finish eating the Atlanta Cheesecake Company raspberry cheesecake my wife left me. She didn’t even tell me to ‘Just have a little slice dear, remember the calories’.

Yep, it’s my birthday!

Taken just after two friends pray together!

Taken just after two friends pray together!


Feb 14 2014

All Stirred Up…. beyond cabin fever. AppSMM core and a great book

I wanted to send along a link to a book that you might really enjoy….http://amzn.to/1cEf6PF.

I think you will really, really like the book, “Miraculous Movements” by Jerry Trousdale. A short read. Lots of meat and not much bone to spit out. Good stuff.
We plan on taking the core lessons from these folks -veterans of the missions church planting movements explosion of the last decade- and use them as a core short-course for an early AppSMM (Appalachian School of Ministry and Missions) module. We plan to jump into AppSMM in early April.

At AppSMM there are perhaps three issues are at core of what we want to impart and change:
**The culture we carry as Christians in America... and what attitudes we really engender in our local fellowships and communities. Parsing and understanding the gaps in our theology and religious cultures… and changing behaviors in obedience to

We carry the glory in some unconventional ways! Coffee & the Kingdom!

We carry the glory in some unconventional ways! Coffee & the Kingdom! “New wine, new wineskins,eh?”

our ‘theology’,
**Re-thinking and re-vamping how we make disciple-making disciples. Attaining simplicity, reproducibility, and sustainability in following Jesus,
** Living like real Trinitarians; living and breathing in unison with and in the strength of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit

The core of “Miraculous Movements” is about disciple-making … in this case ‘wrapped’ in the wonderful illustrative stories around Muslim cultures. The central tenets of the same disciple making movements are at the core of the training that Becky and i went through back in 2008-9, led by Dave Watson of CityTeam.
DMM (disciplemaking movements) and CPM (church planting movements) are becoming somewhat interchangable terms within the ‘doing’ community.
Meniscus’ mission is to both engage in,and train in, the disciple-making and the access ministry (compassion, mercy, community development, social justice,disaster relief) that serves as a sign and a wonder and an authentic healing/mercy/grace caring for the local community.
That perspective on the role of the Church is the grid through which Meniscus views missions, Church, the ‘home front’ faith-based social justice/helping hand and equipping role of the local church, as well as the maturing of followers of Jesus Christ.

Probably more than you want to know, but there is my ‘brain-dump’ for the day. Guess the passion has to leak out on Valentines Day, eh?
Scott


Jan 22 2014

Greenest Man in the Mountains…. Simple is not Easy

Friend Phil DeJong of Journey Group, Charlottesville VA, sent me this great article, and I wanted to pass it along. From the Blue Ridge Outdoors website, http://bit.ly/1c3BXHI it speaks well of life in the mountains.  A worthwhile three minute read.

A gentle reproof to us all, but not with any of the common snarkiness found in social media. I have a neighbor just across the ‘holler’ who’s much like the article’s ‘hero’.

I love living in the mountains. When first we moved here it served as a balm for my soul and rest for my spirit as I decompressed from working in Africa and Afghanistan. But now, I have grown to be deeply appreciative of the resident culture of humility and honor, faith and community.

We are hoping, intending, and praying that some of the strengths of the mountains can rest upon our short-course teachings as we launch AppSMM (Appalachian School of Ministry and Mission) this season; seeking to forge lives of discipleship/missional lifestyle/community transformation/Kingdom of God priorities and love. Come join us.

Simple is not the same as Easy. Hard is not the same as Bad. Love Jesus radically. Become naturally supernatural. Get our hands dirty.  Cultivate honor and humility. “Let your kingdom come” is more than a bumper sticker prayer.

Not always pretty, but most always a rich story

Not always pretty, but most always a rich story


Jan 21 2014

John Mark McMillan – 2nd thoughts. Knowing & Doing

So the other day I read two postings that really touched me. The first was the blog post prior to this one, a survey of what the Millenials in America thought about poverty.

Shortly thereafter, I watched a wonderful new video preview of John Mark McMillan’s new song “Future/Past”.

So here is the ‘second thought’ of the day…

The Second… Rich lyric. Listening, and it’s a treat seeing people I know joining in worship, I’m struck by the thought that we ‘know’ something when we ‘do’ it. I “knew” baseball as a kid when I played the game, I ‘knew’ the richness of a worship-worthy God when I chose to enter in and ‘do’ worship.
In like manner, I come to ‘know’ the restorative, overcoming power of God to change lives -not when I simply read about it and acknowledge its truth- but when I ‘do’ the restorative, overcoming stuff for other people. We ‘know’ as we ‘engage’ and ‘do’.

Let’s go. Africa. America. Wherever and everywhere. Make it a wonderful infection… I think our Father likes that.

The link…http://www.relevantmagazine.com/rtv/performances/future-past

I want to be a doer of the Word, not just a hearer.

I want to do what He’s in the midst of doing

I want to gladden His heart within the realms of men and upon this Earth

There are a people wandering, looking for the living God, and yearning to travel with Him.

There are a people wandering, looking for the living God, and yearning to travel with Him.

I do not want to ‘white-knuckle it’, but I do not want to ‘sit this one out’.

Let’s go


Jan 16 2014

Millenials & Poverty:a study on their perspectives

Two excellent links worth following popped up on my radar today. The First today, the Second on Saturday…

The First...A Study report on Millenials Perspectives on Poverty. Very interesting read from Shared Justice site, surveys a sampling from the Millenial generation as to what they think of poverty in America; current prospects, programs, successes, failures, and causes. This is a worthwhile little read.

See if you can make sense of this little synthesis.

The First…If we believe in a gracious, loving, wise and just God and a living, sacrificial Jesus, then we are called to ‘invest’ that way with our own lives. Solutions will be messy, and we need to not fear speaking – and living- hard truths, so long as we do it wisely and in authentic humility. I am so thankful for those organizations and ministries that have been confronting the stronghold of poverty in this country for years, regardless of the paucity of financial resources. And I am thankful for the ‘new things’ that are emerging within Millenials.

Cultures can shift, opportunities can arise,hope can be birthed, and the past can be past. God’s re-invested himself in it every day.

 

Let’s go. America. Africa. Anywhere and everywhere. Divine infection wherever we are.

The link….

http://www.sharedjustice.org/millennial_perspectives_on_poverty_and_opportunity

lycans-816two-smallchildren-share-fruit


Dec 23 2013

17 Gifts That Can Change the World … Seriously!

The Holidays are upon us and retailers are going crazy, calendars are full, travel is zany and budgets have been squeezed. Though celebration can become frantic, we remember that this is the season to celebrate a baby born in humble settings, destined to be the very King of Destiny, of the One who changes everything.

And you too can have an impact this season. Not as historic and cosmic as the birth of Jesus, but one that has a direct, personal, and historic impact on people in southern Africa and the southern Appalachians of America.  

View the Meniscus 2013-2014 Catalog

 Join Meniscus Inc in making an impact for good in the coming year.

  • SERVING under-resourced communities
  • EQUIPPING individuals with skills and hope
  • TRANSFORMING broken cultures
Meniscus matters. Take a few minutes,

view our catalog, and make a donation.

HONOR CARDS

With each donation of $25 or more, you make send an Honor Card for your family and friends.We can send the Honor Card directly to the honoree with any message you desire. Simply make the donation, then send your message and the appropriate name and address to meniscushome@gmail.com.
SPECIAL BONUS GIFT! FOR DONATIONS GIVEN IN 2013

IMAG0810Bosch African tree

 

With each donation of $250 or more, we will send you a gift; a beautiful pen on cotton paper sketch of a native tree of the South African
LowVeld by noted artist Elias Bosch. Prints are high quality, 8 1/2 x 11 inches and can be sent via free expedited mailing for the holidays. Call us at 828-260-9313 for shipping details. These are a beautiful gift and we can send notice of your gift via e-card to your recipient.
Your donations are tax deductible and a year-end receipt will be mailed to you.
Thanks and may you have a rich and full Christmas!