Shoot To Kill


We were awoken abruptly in the middle of the night with the sound of three gunshots nearby.  Silence.  Three more gunshots and I reached over and grabbed Casey’s arm in the dark. Silence.  One more shot. 


Unfortunately, it’s not completely abnormal to hear gunshots if you live in the community of Ocean View.  Gangsterism is a part of life and we know many of the gangsters and their families who live near us.  We don’t feel threatened by them and the gang violence is towards other gang members, not innocent bystanders.  However, there are moments that sharply and aggressively remind you of the danger around you and the fragility of life. 


We talked about the shots fired the next morning, how jolting it was, and how especially ominous the final and lone gunshot was.  Casey remarked “that shot was the shoot to kill.”  He was right.  The other shots were aimed at another person to hurt them or stop them or wound them, but the final shot must have been at close range and was the shoot to kill.  That was the shot to take someone out for good.


This really got me thinking in spiritual terms and how the enemy must have a ‘shoot to kill’ tactic for each of us too.  The devil fires many different ‘shots’ trying to take us all down in many different ways.  John 10:10 says “The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy…”  We don’t realize it but the enemy is always trying to attack us.  It’s a part of our reality that we don’t like to think about, but ignoring it can be unwise.  1 John 5:19 says, “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one”.  Going even further, 1 Peter 5:8 describes the enemy as “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour…”


In contrast, Jesus Christ offers us so much more - “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).  God wants an abundant and full life for us in Him; every single one of us.  But we are under attack and to live not recognizing our spiritual reality it is blind ignorance.  There is a death warrant on each of our heads.  The enemy wants death in our relationships, death in our families, death in our emotional lives, death in our finances, and death in our relationship with God, just to name a few. 


Thankfully we weren’t in danger the night of those nearby gunshots, we must live aware of the spiritual battle around us all.  I pray we ask God to help us see our world in new ways.

Too Close to Home


We are seriously living the dream as American missionaries living in Cape Town, South Africa.  We have been here 8 years now and so things aren't 'new' to us anymore and we have learned so many lessons.  We live in a 'coloured' (mixed race) township of about 300,000 people called Ocean View and it truly has become home.  There is so much to be thankful for, and yet every once in a while things hit too close to home....

In recent times the people of our community grew a great anger and unrest about the state of policing and protection for the innocent in our community.  The gang situation has been worsening and it seems our home is a place where people who are running from the law come to hide.  This creates violence between the gangs.  Most of the times the violence is late at night in the dark corners of the community, but every once in a while it comes out into the open.  Recently a young boy was shot and killed as he stood in his own home as his family prepared for a wedding the next day.  It was unthinkable and tragic and wrong and the community went in an uproar.  Eventually we began to see riots outside the entrances of the community, a common way of protesting in South Africa.  People take tires and burn them with oil, they throw rocks at cars, and they chant with signs and shouting about their complaints.  It usually starts honest and passionate and can sometimes end violently.  Unfortunately this is what we encountered surprisingly one morning.

We were leaving to take the children to school one morning, and had been hearing through the social media conversations that the protests were heating up in the front of the community.  We had our children and two teachers in our car and hoped to simply drive out the back of Ocean View.  We got to the entrance and immediately the bonfire of tires and gasoline sent chills down my spine.  The fire was ominous but was in the middle of the road and so I thought I could simply drive around.  As I began to drive, three Rastafarian men suddenly surrounded my car and began angrily shouting at me.  "Turn back!  Turn around!  Go back!!"  It all happened so quickly but what I remember clearly was the look in their eyes of mad hate.  They were so aggressive and had never met me a moment in their lives.  For some reason my first instinct was to roll down my window and calmly and clearly speak with them.  I began to tell them that we WERE going through and that we had some place to be.  No matter how calm I was, the fact that I wasn't heeding to their anxious instructions only made them more angry and they then began to shake the car and continued to shout.  At this point (again I am not sure why this was my response) but I got louder and ordered them to stop, which they did.  They quickly (and strangely) calmed down and shyly said I could pass (looking around to make sure no one saw).  I said thank you and we drove on.

Only then did I notice that the kids were crying in the backseat and the teachers, both residents of Ocean View, were also very shaken up.  We all were in shock.  It just happened so fast and I had no idea how I would respond to it outside of the moment.  The children quickly calmed down and we talked about it many times afterwards to make sure they weren't traumatized.  The teachers debriefed with their staff at school and were fine.  For the rest of the day, however, the moments kept playing in my mind over and over again.  I knew the outcome, and I knew that I just reacted from my guts in the heat of the moment, but what if it had all escalated?  What if they had thrown the rocks at the car (which happened to other cars)?  What if they had forced us to get out?  Who knows what could have happened to my precious children?  What if it had all gone terrifyingly different?

We love living in this community and absolutely love the people of Ocean View, but violence and pain are unfortunately a part of the story as well.  We can't always predict what will happen and things like 'safety' are viewed differently by us than most we know.  However, when it comes TOO CLOSE TO HOME it can really rock my soul.  What am I willing to put out there for this calling?  How much risk is too much?  How much love is too much?  How much of what my children experience and witness is too much?  How much of what I experience and witness is too much? 

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I am glad that I provide the space to wrestle with them when they simmer to the surface.  They do not have concrete answers but they need to be asked.  The need to be noted and the questions need to be felt.  Once I allow myself to wrestle with them I settle back again into the glaring certainty of our call to Ocean View.  I sense again in my soul our family's calling to live among these friends as neighbors and family.  Soemtimes the cost may seem too much, but it's not today, and it wasn't on that day.  The cost is actually NEVER too much when it's what God has called you too.  After the questions and the wrestlings we find a deep peace in knowing our calling and being obedient.  And we know God is with us, and that even when it seems too close to home, our home is really in HIM.  And we are really good with that.


What is Our Response?

I was in McDonalds, trying to mind my own business with my chocolate sundae, and accidentally I once again overheard the conversation I hate to hear.  One person asking another about the community of Ocean View, and saying, "Aren't you SCARED to go there?"  I honestly stopped listening right there, because I am personally tired of creating my own response.  But in these days, even I have to admit it's a valid question.

We witnessed another tragedy recently in Ocean View, another death among many, but this one was different and it has shaken our community to its core.  This was a young girl who was sweet and loved by many and never deserved to be mistreated at the hands of such darkness.  There are unfortunately many deaths we hear about, but most of the are people involved in gangsterism and drugs, and so sadly death is sometimes a part of the lifestyle they have chosen to be in.  But not Cameron.  Cameron wasn't a gangster, although she did associate herself with some people who were not good characters.  Cameron wasn't involved in the gansterism and darkness of Ocean View herself, and her death has shocked and scared everyone in our community.  We all find ourselves asking if we are scared to be in Ocean View...

So what do we do in this time, and in the face of this darkness.  What is our response?

There have been many already.  People have left, or have pulled out their associations with Ocean View.  People are angry and fed up with gangsterism and those affected.  People are terrified at who or what could be next.  People are judgmental about the 'others' who these things happen to and separate themselves from it completely.  But to me, all those responses are separation.  They are separating ourselves from those affected and those hurting, assuming we are going to figure out how to be the safe and secure ones in the face of darkness.

Unfortunately I just don't know HOW to do that.

I don't know how to seperate myself from Ocean View because it's my home and it's my people.  Maybe with other darkness, other pain, other heartache I could stay away from it, but this heartache is in the middle of my own heart and I can't shake it.  I can't just walk away.

I am SO GRATEFUL that I can't seperate from this pain.

As the weeks have gone on and people have moved on from the pain of Cameron's death, I have thought about how thankful I am to not be able to seperate.  I am thankful that this is my home and these people are my family.  I know how this entire community has rallied around Cameron's mom and brothers to love and support them.  I know how the community of Ocean View has risen up to speak against the darkness and violence and try to bring it to an end in unity.  I know how people have woken up day after day, and even when they are afraid, they have still entered into this community and lifted on another up, because that is what you do with family.  The values that are expressed in this community, as dark and violent as it can be, are beyond anything I have experienced before.  

So many others look at Ocean View and only see the terrifying darkness.  My response is different because I look at Ocean View and see the overcoming LIGHT.

The Embrace of Missions

A man steps out of a muddy cargo van in a foreign land and meets the eyes of another man.  They embrace, they shout, they weep.  This is not the story of two family members reconnecting after a a long time apart, but rather two Christian brothers from completely different worlds, contexts, and backgrounds reuniting on the mission field.


Those of us who have experienced a short-term mission trip can remember going to new lands to be overwhelmed by new cultures, languages, smells, foods and experiences.  Personally I was involved in short-term mission trips to Mexico, Jamaica, Equador, Honduras and even Africa.  Those who have been ‘sent’ to these new lands look back on their experiences with full hearts.  What I notice, however, is that what I remember most of those trips is not the new languages, foods I ate, houses I built, songs I sang or children I hugged.  All I can remember is certain people.  And I remember them vividly.  There are those people who even though you don’t share culture, background or language, somehow you become a brother and sister in Christ.  For me I remember Raymond, Marta and Emmanuel. 


Who do you remember?


For Keith Cathcart, he always remembered Chuky.


Many of us connected with young Chuky in Mexico because he was young and funny and open.  Working with Faith Ministry on the border of Texas and Mexico, we were there to serve families in poverty and help them to build homes as they built up their lives.  This faith-based organization came around these families with the hope of Christ, and for one week we would come in and to build and love alongside them.  In this context, we all felt like we connected with the people of Mexico, but evidently Chuky connected with some of us too. 


The embrace story that I shared was not long-lost family but instead Keith and Chuky reconnecting after 10 years of not seeing each other.  10 years of no communication at all and coming from WHOLLY and COMPLETELY different worlds but yet their hearts had connected and they were once again reunited in embrace.  It was unplanned and paints a picture of something deep in the heart that longs for connection, is created for connection, and rejoices in the connection.


Many years later, my husband and I serve on the mission field of South Africa with our two children.  We now live on the mission field, living among a community of people who are disadvantaged, and I see people coming and going almost daily whose aim is ‘mission’ and to love those who are in need.  They come in and set up kids’ clubs, paint faces of little children, feed soup to the hungry, walk through the community and share about Jesus, and everything else in between.  Sometimes being on THIS side of missions I even wonder if it is making a difference?  The kids seem to go back to normal, the next day the people are hungry, and do they really remember the Jesus they had just heard about?


But then I see a story like Chuky’s and something in my soul says that THIS is the power of missions.  The power of missions, the possibility of missions, the PURPOSE of missions isn’t the painting, and work, and evangelizing, and face painting, although those things are needed.  No those acts are only the vehicle for the EMBRACE of missions.  The hope is that two people from completely different worlds and cultures would meet and connect and their lives would embrace in a way that changes them both forever.  No it doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s nothing short of holy.


So missionaries, both short and long term, I encourage you to keep reaching out, to keep connecting to keep looking for your ‘Chuky’ and to give them all you have while you share a short moment in time together. 


It’s the power of the embrace.



Welcome New Volunteer Rachel!

We are excited to welcome our new volunteer Rachel Harpole to Ocean View!  She is here for just over 2 months working in Ocean View and with Ubuntu Football.  See some of her story here.   Maybe YOU should be our next volunteer!

"Hello everyone!  The thought process of coming to South Africa began about a year ago when I began teaching. I worked in a very diverse semi-inner city school where there was a lot of need, but not a lot that could be done as a teacher. I felt so helpless and I hated it. But the thought of going all the way to South Africa was still quite distant. Things became a little more real though when some of my friends came to Ocean View for a couple of months. This thought that I had in the back of my head began to creep up as more of a reality. In August, my summer began to wrap up and it was time for me to face the music. I was at an extremely pivotal moment where I had to choose what I was going to do in the upcoming year. I could continue working in the restaurant with all of my friends, having fun 24/7, and only having to be responsible and act like an adult about 10% of the time. I could seek out a teaching position and hope and pray it would be a better situation than my previous one. Or, I could take advantage of this flexible time in my life and go for something truly amazing and pursue this mere thought of serving in South Africa. I prayed that the Lord would make His plans evident to me and here I am! The entire process in preparing to come to South Africa was so much easier than I expected. That along with the love and support from family and friends only confirmed for me that this was God’s plan for me and I couldn’t wait to see what my time would be like once I got here.

Here in South Africa, in the afternoons, I go to help the Ubuntu boys with their homework, which is a learning experience for us all! It just goes to show that you really should listen to your teachers when they say, “You never know when you’re going to need to know this one day.” I also spend two days a week helping out at the Care Center. Mainly, I am an extra set of much needed hands, but the goal is to help the students learn how to function and behave in a classroom with routines and procedures. 

As I look ahead to my time here in Africa, my goals are to:

  • Grow in my faith and have a stronger, more passionate and intentional relationship with Jesus
  • Be humbled and grateful through serving others
  • Make a different in this community in whatever little way I may be able to
  • Learn about myself and how I can be the best version of me
  • … I know there is more to come that I can't even imagine yet!"


My Banner

April 24, 2015

My time serving as a pastor at Ocean View Methodist has recently come to an end and I have been reflecting on the years and all God taught me there. We came to know South Africa as home while serving at that church and it became a home for us and our growing children. Leaving is painful, especially as the future is not clear, but obedience to God is everything and we know He will light the path.

I love to reflect and wrap things up and that is what I did in my last sermon at Ocean View Methodist two weeks ago. I reflected on Exodus 17 where God’s people find themselves in a battle that could only be victorious when Moses’ hands were lifted in prayer. After the battle was won, Moses received a new name for God: Jehovah Nissi or “God is my banner.” God wanted them to remember what He had done for them and that in HIM was always the victory. A banner or flag has been used throughout history to declare a party’s victory or meaning, and it still remains its purpose. I felt led by God to declare what my banners were over my time in Ocean View. If I had a flag to fly about what God taught me while serving his people at OCean View Methodist, what would it be?

My BANNER and my VICTORY in Ocean View would be:

1. We are GROUNDED by the Word of God

We have encountered many challenges during our five years living in Ocean View and walked with many families through their own desperate times. Through these challenges we have seen that ONLY the word of God provides light, hope, and vision. ONLY the Word of God helps His people to see His truth and face and guide through the darkness. Only God’s word speaks fresh into dead situations and total darkness.  There is nothing sweeter, there is nothing richer, there is nothing more true, and there is no other way to hear the heart of God than to go to His Word.  God’s Word is my banner and that is my victory.

2. Our Obedience Brings Blessing

I heard this truth years ago from Beth Moore and it was something I believed I lived by. I have however learned that obedience is truly difficult and calls us not just to outwardly look like we are following Jesus but inwardly as well. I have to completely trust Jesus and give him every part of my life in order to show that I am truly following His heart. It’s about the state of my heart in the follow not just the footsteps I am leaving. Obedience is following HEART AND SOUL and I have learned that while living here. Obedience brings blessing is my banner and my victory.

3. God’s Love Always Wins

When I came to South Africa I thought it was so that I could love the people here, but instead they have taught ME what love really looks like.  In the community of Ocean View there is a great deal of hurt and it is certainly a truth here that ‘hurt people HURT PEOPLE.”  Most often the people we hurt the most are those who love us the most.  This has been true in the families I have served here.  I have personally been hurt and seen them hurt one another, but out of that something has shone through that I didn’t expect.  What defines the people in Ocean View Methodist is not their hurt but truly the way they love even though they have been hurt.  They love despite the hurt.  They love through the hurt.  They love those who least deserve it, including me.  No matter how dark it has gotten in Ocean View I have seen my friends choose love and it has taught me that truly, love ALWAYS WINS.   Love conquering all is my banner and my victory.

I am so thankful for what God has written on my heart and life as I have served at Ocean View Methodist Church.  It’s hard to imagine our life and family apart from this church but I am certain that the relationships will continue to grow and flourish for years to come.  My heart is filled with gratitude for all God has shown me over the years atOcean View Methodist.  JESUS and HIS LOVE is my banner and my victory.

Marriage and Missions

March 23, 2015

Last month as the Prince’s celebrated Valentine’s Day the predictable banter ensued between my husband and I where we tried to get the other person to plan a fancy date so we wouldn’t have to.  I got a babysitter and until hours before we had absolutely no plans for Valentine’s Day.  We eventually went on a (GREAT!) date but it took some mustered energy from us both.

As the Valentine’s weekend went by I watched through social media as friends in various stages of life posted about their Valentine’s day plans.  The single people either were silent or boldly posted pics of Netflix and wine parties.  The newly in love or married couples went on fancy dates and proudly displayed their bleeding love to the world (barf).  The parents with children were also silent OR just posted pictures of their ‘little valentine’ children who now fill their hearts (and time and emotional capacity and every word in their home).  It made me think about Casey and I and what makes it work for us now that we have been married almost THIRTEEN YEARS (GEEZ OLD PEOPLE ALERT!). Oh how different ‘love’ looks in the different seasons of our lives!!

Everyone is different, but for me, marriage is something I always want to enjoy and find life in, not just endure.  I am not happy to have just a life partner or best friend, I also want a lover and someone who pursues my heart.  I want my PRINCE (hah) and I want to be the PRINCESS (Sarah in Hebrew means princess… double barf).  What does this actually look like when you have two small kids and live a life of mission and ministry?? We are full-time missionaries and our lives are engrossed and overwhelmed with people and tasks and needs and voices and things to do.  How do we make it work and how do we keep the love alive?


Well the easy answer is that we live by God’s grace EVERY DAY and it isn’t a fairy tale, it’s real life. But it’s honestly better than the fairy tale and worth the work and effort.  At the end of the worst day imaginable or the greatest thing ever, the person I want to most share it with is my husband and I call that a ‘win’ every time.  But marriage and missions means that our relationship is something that we work on just like we work on all the other things in our lives God has called us to.  God has called us to be parents.  God has called us to missions.  God has called us to Africa.  God has called us to love people.  God has called us to serve people.  God has called us to minister to people.  And God has called us to this marriage.  That means we must put in the effort and care and time and focus that we put into all the other things we are called to, maybe even MORE.

In the Prince’s world we take our marriage very seriously because it’s a huge part of our ministry.  The community we live in has a lot of broken families and hurting homes and they often look at us wondering if what we ‘preach’ is even real.  So we have to make sure that it’s real and we work hard on it.  We take dating seriously and spend as much time together as we possibly can because if we aren’t loving each other well then we can never love others well.

We love being together and love our lives together.  But love doesn’t come easy and we know that our love is a combination of a lot of work and God’s miraculous hand.

During a fundraiser event that we had in January a friend came up to us and shouted excitedly, “You guys are just the most perfect couple ever!”  I could only laugh because it was the most ridiculously thing I had ever heard.  I had no words.  Later I found myself thinking more about the ridiculousness and what ever gave her that crazy idea.  We are FAR FAR FAR from perfect but we ARE in love.

That same month I saw this great quote from Lisa Bevere and immediately sent it to Casey.


Our marriage is FAR from perfect but it is great and it is growing and we treasure one another.  We are on mission together and we are on mission love one another.  We love that mission.

Learning to Shine

March 2, 2015

We are working with young girls and guys all over Ocean View and feeling so excited about it so just wanted to share today what it is we are doing!

Hillsong Church has written a curriculum called Shine and Strength and we are partnering with them to teach these programs in the schools of Ocean View, and have done two Shine Women courses already at our church.

What is Shine and Strength??

“Shine is a collection of personal development mentoring tools for girls and women, designed to develop an understanding of personal worth, strength and purpose and to help girls realise their full potential.”

“Strength is a unique personal development and group mentoring tool for boys and men, that uses an inspirational, practical and experiential approach to learning.”

These programs are powerful and fun and based on biblical concepts that really come alive when we are sharing them.  For the community of Ocean View, many young people don’t really know their value and worth because of the many challenges they face before of poverty, gangsterism, violence and hopelessness.  These young people have so much potential for bright futures but often they don’t recognize it in the haze and peer pressure and negativity that can surround them.

We have found the young people are SUPER open and really enjoy coming to the course.  They take it seriously and share openly.  What a GIFT it is to us!

We look forward to continuing to expand the program and work with all the guys and girls we can get our hands on.  God is growing our team to lead the course and opening doors so we can reach more kids.  Please be praying that God would continue to use us and help these young people to SHINE!

Image via

The Pictures Not Taken

February 27, 2015

If you follow me on social media you know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE taking and posting pictures.  Love it.  I love sharing my story, my family, and my world.  I think I am privileged to live such a beautiful life and am grateful that it’s mine to share.

However, I want you to know about the pictures that I don’t take and the stories I don’t share.

Daily our home is filled with people who come to visit our children and stop by to say hello.

Daily our home is filled with people who come desperately needing their next meal ask for our help.

As we walk the streets we see neighbors and friends and chat about how much we love Ocean View.

As we walk the streets we see neighbors and friends addicted and broken and struggling to make it moment by moment.

In our ministries we see children, women, young men, and leaders growing and flourishing towards their destinies in Christ.

In our ministries we see many people who feel they just can’t live up to what God has dreamed for them and give up before their destiny is realized.

In the pictures I take you see people who are my heroes who are living lives honoring and following Christ despite great challenges and hardships.

What is not in my pictures are the people, also still my heroes, who can’t today live lives that fully honor Christ but live with hearts that are FULLY LOVED BY CHRIST even in their brokenness.

I LOVE OCEAN VIEW and I love to celebrate the work God is doing here.  I will continue to shout it from the rooftops because God is working miracles in my midst and He deserves complete praise and glory.

I LOVE OCEAN VIEW and daily I walk beside people whose stories are not finished yet and still have a way to go in their journey.  My story isn’t finished yet either and there are many places that aren’t healed yet too.  Together we walk and we pray and we cling to the hope that Jesus will save and heal and make our hearts whole.

So I will continue to share many pictures and stories, but know there are so very many more that can’t be told yet because I want to honor my friends in the midst of their miracles.  We are ALL in the MIDST OF SOME MIRACLES and together we walk until they are fully realized and fully told.

What miracles are you in the midst of?

Images via

Dear Ocean View Vandals...

December 15, 2014

Dear vandals in Ocean View,

This past week, once again, you came into my home uninvited and unwelcome and have taken something that was not yours.  What you took was something given to us, or something we took a long time to purchase, or something important to us.  It doesn’t even matter what it was that you took, as the list of all that has been stolen while living here is too long to even compose.  What you took was just some-THING but it wasn’t yours to take.

I am tired of the stealing.  I am tired of the break-ins.  I am tired of wondering when the next theft will be.  I am tired of looking at people and wondering if it was him or her I am tired.

But I want you to know that even though you took something of mine, I am not the victim.  You are the victim.  My treasures are in heaven and you can never steal my salvation and my joy in Christ.  What is most important in my life is the love of my family, my heart given to Jesus Christ, the laughter that daily fills my home, the peace felt by those who enter my doors when they are invited.  By far the most important things in my home can only be felt but never taken.  I would invite you into my house or help you with whatever is hurting you, but you didn’t ask, you only came to take.

I want to say to you who continues to steal and deceive: stop degrading the value of your life. Stop degrading this community. Stop degrading yourself.  You are gifted and smart and strong and anything is possible in your life.  Stop seeing the world as so small that you must take things from others.  Stop living a life in the shadows.  Stop living a life that isn’t what God created for you.

Community of Ocean View it’s time.  It’s time to speak up.  It’s time to say something when you see something suspicious.  Tell your neighbor when their window is open.  Speak to your children about the value of their lives and how they degrade themselves when they steal.  Pray for the criminals of Ocean View as they have very broken hearts.  We must take back our community.

Pray for Ocean View and God’s Kingdom to come.