This space called Mavuno

I am one excited Mavunite. Just saying that is a transformation in itself. And you would not have caught me whispering let alone saying it a year ago.

This is my Mavuno (www.mavunochurch.org) conversation

Mizizi

I was in the Season III Mizizi class of 2009 and before that I did not do church. Attendance was sporadic and nomadic and it was always one-off. Yaani, I would attend a church only once and I would be done with it. And this would happen about one or two times a year every other year.

During Mizizi, I resigned in writing from my childhood church. It was a very interesting experience. I hadn’t attended it in over 20 years but I felt that since I had joined it in writing it was only fair that I resign in writing. If anything I gave up the right to resent and criticize that church.

This opened the way for the next thing.

I fought through my whole Mizizi experience. Amazing Allan, an understudy in our class, reminded me recently how I always came with guns blazing. I had several questions and I had promised myself I would not attend the Sunday lectures until after Mizizi. I had to assess for myself what this whole experience was about. It was interesting how I joined Mizizi in the first place. A pal of mine had promised to pay for me as I was out of job at the time. She told me she would approach her LG as they were all planning to do Mizizi. We were meant to meet at the Launch. They didn’t come. They didn’t even do Mizizi that season. I accepted to stay on until week 4 as per the request from Pastor M at the launch to us sceptics. I was certain I would leave then. I was not a Christian yet I knew I had a relationship with God. And I couldn’t understand why my friend and several other Christian pals of mine seemed to think what I had was not enough. I often got irritated.  In any case I ended up staying on in Mizizi with a 100% attendance record (but do I say?) including the weekend activities and still had my guns blazing. Most of the special activities I came only because I did not want to have to blame anyone else for my absence.

The evangelism session was one I vehemently opposed during class. I figured it was a marketing exercise for Jesus and Mavuno. I still came anyway. We went out in twos and waah the first person we stopped to ‘evangelise’ to, stopped. And he listened. We read from the script and we went on to talk to another 6 or so other people. No one got saved or hurt. Isitoshe, in the gifting section of the Mizizi book, I scored a 50 on Evangelism. Very sad. This thing was not working very well. My script was undergoing several unwarranted revisions.

The half day of prayer was another classic God intervention moment. My plan was to do Facebook and sleep. My phone went off- Battery Empty!!! – just after the briefing and I needed more time when we were called in for debriefing; reason being I had not completed the assignment and I was finding value in it. And there was no hint of sleep during that session.

I was on the social justice committee which meant I attended Mavuno before the end of Mizizi because Sunday was the only day we could all meet at the same time. Again another beef I usually had against church was that there was no opportunity to give feedback to the preacher; that it was ALWAYS a one way street affair. Well, on this day, during the SHOW ME THE MONEY SERIES, there was feedback DURING the service, where the congregation could ask questions via SMS and the questions would show up on the large screen AS THE SERVICE WENT ON.NKT!!! This meant I had to give up the right to resent churches.

I had several questions, most of which went unanswered during Mizizi but somehow I chose to press on. One of my questions was if Jesus was God could I replace “In Jesus’ name” with just plain “In God’s name” during prayers? Our social justice mission was a defining experience where I shared God’s Love through my experience with alcoholism, deliverance, recovery and the joy of sobriety. And because I was not an expert on scripture the rest of the class took on the role of giving the story a Christian perspective. 3 guys got saved and we were ALL pastors in that session. It was unforgettable.

Then came the retreat at MMU; the prayer session was a mind, soul and body blowing affair. I am told that it was the first time of the Prayer of Five was done. That was spooky. I was sure the other four knew about each other and that is why they were agreeing with each one was saying. Well, they were agreeing with my feedback about their lives because, well, they were polite like that and they didn’t want to add onto the Sin List that we’d been given earlier in the day. There was absolutely no way I could have been on point 4 out of 4 times. But when they spoke into my life…to this day I am still spooked.

It was also the first time I made a connection between my treatment of women and my father wounds. What I got from Mizizi was that trust was certainly a big issue for me and now I was sold to attending the Sunday services which I chose to call Lectures. Somehow that gave me to the freedom to listen without prejudice.

Towards the end I was told I would be made a lifegroup leader. I accepted though I had no clue what was expected of me

LG

Lifegroup has been an eye-opening experience. I recall asking why I was appointed leader of my LG and I was told that the Mizizi  facilitators had prayed about it. So, I figured who was I to mess with God’s will? During the orientation the first question we were asked was why we were there. I reckoned it was because so and so had called and asked us to be there. My question was where we leading our groups to. And I was told to the cross. Now, as a non-Christian, I had no clue what this meant and I seriously considered resigning. Then I remembered the God’s will bit. So, I asked what EXACTLY was at the cross and when I got answers like freedom, fulfilment, surrender, etc, I knew then I could handle this thing.

The only thing was I still did not believe that Jesus Christ had died for MY sins. I chose however not make it an LG issue because I was quite clear that my service position was NOT about me, but about the group. And besides they knew my true colours from Mizizi. My LG experience was exciting and I even got to have an extra 9 cups to add on the 3 I had because I was playing host. In our first meeting at my place I had more guests than I had had for 10 years; 11 in all.

My belief issue re Jesus Christ got me asked to step aside as an LG leader. This gave me more motivation  – and resentment in the  now all too familiar space of being misunderstood and unheard – to keep asking the questions because I couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t quit the Mavuno conversation altogether. Clearly I was valuing the experience.

And earlier in January 2010 during the Extreme Makeover- Life edition, on Pastor M’s suggestion to give God up to the end of the year, I declared I would and I asked my LG to hold me accountable. It was an awesome year in that department.

I rededicated my life to God during GT in January but I refused to acknowledge I was saved and I didn’t even tell my LG until maybe 3 weeks later. I was ashamed of accepting defeat at trying to do it my own way and of having others tell me “I told you so!” I didn’t last very long in that realm because the obstinacy took prominence in my life.

Prayer Adventure (Ombi)

Highlight of my Ombi 10 week experience was a further connectedness with people and I truly accepted that that was something I truly valued. Fasting was a new experience more than a weight-loss programme, I found that fasting in itself was not about food per se (I love my food) or coercing God to do my will; but something much more profound. And being a deep and profound kind of guy, I liked this. The highlight was that it was that I, Chris, of all people, could actually stand in the gap for someone else in prayer and actually get a divine intervention. I am still jazzed by this.

Ombi II

The highlight of redoing Ombi in the new format was watching one of our LG member’s transformation.  Being involved in her process as an LG was a sight to see. She gave her life to Christ at the retreat and for me, taking Ombi again – in the leave-no-man behind philosophy- was well worth the effort.

Lea

I was in the pioneer class of Parenting at Mavuno. This class gave me fresh relationship to the Bible as I got to see how serious God is about raising kids. It has transformed my relationship with my son, Roogz, 11 this March, whom I don’t live with but we’re very much a part of each other.

I signed up to serve in this ministry come 2011. Clearly, this is certainly God’s idea not my own. A part-time parent in a parenting ministry. Talk about qualifying the called.

Sermons vs. Lectures

Why I like Mavuno is the ever fresh thinking and outlook on life. Mavuno always seems to reinvent itself without losing itself and its mission.

And when they say they accept you as you are it is true. Choosing to call the sermons lectures has opened up an authentic relationship with God in the present. My relationship to ‘Sermons’ I suppose is an old wound. My take on it is that relating to the sermons as lectures rather than sermons has kept me coming, listening, learning and receiving a much needed transformation.

During the ‘Disobedient Leader’ lecture of the Legends of the Fall series, I was undergoing a spiritual crisis. I felt a stirring in my heart. I walked to the prayer tent and asked God to take over my life. I prayed that I was unhappy, lonely, angry and really really tired. I now wanted to surrender my life and my will to Him. The Jesus Christ thingi still did not make sense. If indeed I was to leave Mavuno at year-end, I was sure I had done my bit in showing up and seeking Him. And in this last leg of the year, if it took calling out Jesus’ name then so be it, I would. And I asked a prayer counsellor to pray with me. This time I shared with my LG on the same day.

I am clear my God loves me. And I am deeply grateful for that. I am grateful that He is more interested in my welfare than I am and I know He is up to something. To put up with me and not be threatened by all my posturing is humbling. I was still trying to figure out how to surrender.

A pal of mine suggested I stop figuring it out and let it be. Why lie, I admit I did not know how to do that. Maybe just keep coming I suppose. And keep coming I have.

Serving in Ministry: LEA

Then 2011 came round it was time to serve at a different ministry. LEA was and is my chosen ministry. I recall at the launch Pastor Carol saying that service in ministry is a form of warfare. And indeed it was the first time I was aware of repeated experiences of demonic attacks. I wasn’t sure about this so I minimised the experience and didn’t share much about it. Instead I prayed, prayed, prayed. I prayed because that experience felt like rolling a huge boulder uphill. The retreat at Lukenya was fun yet humbling. We were had pulled through in the season. It was a sigh of relief. The boulder had arrived.

Baptism on my 40th Birthday

My personal mission statement is to serve, transform and empower my environment through creative problem solving. I do this one person at a time. I have realized that the ultimate in taking responsibility for my life is to completely, progressively and continuously surrender it to a higher cause than mine. God’s will and purpose for me is more often than not that higher cause. And Mavuno is the space where that has happened and continues to do so.

Yes, I had been baptized as a child and in a conversation with my Godmother; she reckoned I did not need to do it again. That conversation gave rise to the reason why I need to do this; as an adult, publicly and at Mavuno.

It is a declaration of trust. It is a desire to experience God’s love; not just know it like I have especially in the last 13 years since I, as an alcoholic, but for the grace of God, stopped drinking. It is a journey from the head to the heart. That distance that is said to be the shortest in one’s life journey but that takes a long time to accomplish. It is a leap of faith and an unambiguous stand I am making. That would possibly explain why I was shaking that day I asked Pastor Thomas if I could be baptized on Sunday 1st May which happens to my 40th birthday. A New Beginning indeed.

The decision still feels counterintuitive given my recent conversation, confusion (read stubbornness) about JC. But even that I can surrender, I was told. This past weekend I met a pal whom I was weary of sharing the news so that I don’t hear the I-told-you-so line. And he didn’t. If anything it was genuine happiness in that beaming smile of his.

I am a transformed joy-fully grateful dude, it’s ongoing and the opportunity to grow and connect purposefully in several ways at once at Mavuno is an experience I truly cherish.

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For life to begin at 40, what needs to end at 39?

I turn 40 in a couple of weeks on Sunday 1st of May, 2011.

I concede I am struggling within myself at accepting it as real.

Hear me out first before you dismiss me as not being in touch with reality.

The main aspect of the intra-personality conflict is that I have ‘nothing’ to show for it on the material front. I am guilty of violating the 12345 by 40 rule: 1 wife, 2 children, 3 bedroom house, a 4 wheel drive and a 5 acre plot.

Now, popular talk that age is nothing but a number or that there will hardly be any difference on my birthday than on the day before is still not helping matters.

On the spiritual front, however, I am a content man. I do, if I may say so, have a gratifying sense of accomplishment.  I am grateful for the process and investment it has taken to be where I am in my journey. I can safely acknowledge that I have no one in my book to whom I have any claims of any sort. I hold no grudge and it is indeed a freeing place to be in.

Nonetheless, I have not arrived. Spiritual growth is an ongoing work in process.

So, that leaves me with me to contend with…a long standing struggle to forgive myself of a past riddled with alcoholism, incomplete projects, aborted start-ups, economic stagnation, deep loneliness and unhealthy relationships.

The conflict is that forgiving myself means I am letting myself off the hook. I am intellectually aware that nothing less than letting go of the past in its entirety is what I am being called to do. But in my heart, the sense of self-condemnation runs deep and the conversation is that I need to pay in full for my past sins and, that, preferably before I turn 40.

Now, how do I do that in only a couple of weeks and live?

Stoning myself has never been worse.