Tag Archive: the simple way


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today i happened to stumble upon this blog post titled, ‘Simple is the way’ announcing that we had been invited to move to Americaland to work with The Simple Way non-profit and live in Philly.

it’s not a particularly great blog post – more of an announcement for friends and family and just sharing the excitement at the time, but what was interesting, and what was again skimming through, was reading the comments [56 of them, including some responses] from people in South Africa who clearly didn’t think it was the greatest decision in the world:

Morne asked: Will you guys come back after getting a taste of the good life in America?

For Vanessa, it was the financial implications:

How are you going to get the money for the tickets as well as the Visas for such a long duration?

If a normal Christian wanted to go over to America, how would they go about it? Would people help any normal Christian out with cash? Or do you need to be quite high up in the Church in order to get the money?

Warren was on point with: People only have a certain amount of money. A certain amount that they can give. If they give to you, doesn’t it detract from giving to others more in need who are starving?

Joanne was worried about our family members, and the township children: Won’t you miss your friends and family here in SA? What about all the township children? But sounds like a fun opportunity to leave like the rest of the people. If others like doctors and whoever leave, then why not christians also.

And then returned with a statement that backed up the idea that when people use the phrase “Just Saying” they seldom just are: On your way to the airport, you’ll pass thousands of poor people in shacks…. just saying..

Joanne really seemed invested in our well-being, especially when she heard we were doing perilous transcription work to try and make enough money to set out: Why not get a job delivering pizza? Or a both of you work as waiters/ waitresses? This way you will interact with people instead of transcribing things all day which is quite boring I can imagine. You could save up quite quickly and get to go on your trip.

Joanne really did have a lot more to say but it seems like she really got to the heart of our leaving in this comment: If it was just for a change of scenery, then why not admit it. Why make out as if its about the poor in Philie? Are they then going to send people from Philie here and we shift people all over the world, costing millions when this money could just go directly to the poor. Or is it all about your experience, learning, your this, your that? Something like that.

Definitely something like that.

All the while these comments were interspersed with humour from a favourite commenter of ours at the time [Where are you now Brits?] who wrote to Joanne: You must leave that job of yours. Get a job as a bar lady! They pay well and you will be happy as you can suip [drink] and get paid and listen to music.

Filon was a lot more practical and helpful in his recommendations: Africa is a lost cause. Go to USA there are more opportunities.

While MJ was clearly swimming against the current: I like the bit where everyone got stoked for you and Val, and stopped trying to find something to complain about. That was my favourite part.

Jeff jumped in to question our quitting themness: I think what people are really saying is that we have poor here. We have poor there. Why there and not here? I understand that you’ve done much needed work here, but why quit us now? Surely we need more Americans coming to help Africa than the other way round?

[as a side note Jeff, Americaland in many ways could use more Africans of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds to come over here and help out – the grass seems to be of a very similiar hue in many ways over here]

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Brits kept things light with his commentary [including some helpful suggestions for getting sufficient alcohol on the plane]:

Hi Brett I check your blog now and again. But lately not too much because I don’t know much about dating and that bell oke. Maybe some new age minister. I also slipped off the wagon again and took up my sport of drinking beer now I have gained kilos and moved to Aghulus for a holiday. I am starting exercise and am inspirated by your pushups. I am aiming for 20. Or maybe running is better, probably walking at first. must make a start of something.

It is funny to hear that whenever you argue with Christians, they reckons you’re the devil haha. I’m accused of this when I am too drunk and the bar lady says I am a wild devil for not paying the tab for 20 beers. I always come pay the next day or after. Besides she even drank 2 herself haha women are very bad with math. They very good at making shopping lists and spend cash.

I think it’s good that you go there as travel is an experience. I must not to a blog as Christians will moan at my beer drinking and say I must give to the bergies but I often give them beers they don’t understand. When I am more drunk I get generosity and buy takeout then buy for the guy outside also. So beer helps with that. Beer or sobeer haha you must not worry and soon you will be in Amerika.

Christians must not be boring. Traveling is fun and a good experience. The budweiser in Amerika not so good but whiskey is more cheaper than here. Are you going to Bronx. You must please be careful as there us gangsters there and pimps on the alert. Bruce Springsteen sings about the Bronx snd Philadelphia. Listen to that to get in the mode.

On the plane you must drink the wine and the beer. If you see an old lady or someone not drinking you must ask for their wine. They limit you to 2 or 3 drinks.

In Amerika you must tell on a map as they not very educated with geography. Do buy a good map to show them where you from.

But we must drink when I’m back from Aghulus. I will pay as you saving up now. I will try calm down before then. What day you flying?

To get donations you must put your account number up. Or maybe use paypal. You must open FNB account to do that here. Not sure exactly but I know it’s FNB. What amount do you need? I can help as well and leave out beer for a month.

To be Christian is not just misery, you must have fun aswell. I think Keanu reeves in little budda even said we must not just live on bird poo. We must have a balancing act of fun and hardness. The Bible also us sometimes too serious and they must have left out many fun times and jokes Jesus had. Christians must be more fun. We not living in old castles with dungeons and crazy priests.

Nobody wants to be a Christian who is miserable. It must be a fun thing or else people will not join up. Just out up photos on your site so we can check out where you are. Keep up the jokes. Your wife must blog more as she is slacking. But she must keep it easy to understand.

I am back next weekend and we can suip a bit or drink coffee. But ya put up an account or whatever. Check it out. Wish you guys good blessings.

And then a bunch of our family and friends ruined the whole thing by jumping on and saying nice things about us and reminding us that it was a good idea to go. Phew. What a fun walk slash sTROLL down memory lane… and looking back on three years, certainly NOT the easy option.

reading all those comments reminded me of the time i wrote a post on forgiveness [well shared an audio thort i had done] and got 59 comments of which i don’t think any related to forgiveness at all but were more focused on how christians like me hate animals and how i was personally going to be responsible for the closing down of the world of birds which you can read about over here – on the other hand, it has been a long time since i got anything like that as a response to anything i’ve written so i have to wonder if that means i’ve been writing too safe..?

well with under two weeks to go til we head home to South Africa, i expect that will change – last few months have been posting more of other peoples’ thoughts such as this marriage series we did, most of the posts on race [which i am looking to dive into a little deeper when we get home] and these recent series on Porn and Sex, because, well, you know.

if someone is not Troll’ing, are you really speaking the Truth? i don’t think writing to offend is particularly helpful, but writing knowing that it will more than likely offend is completely necessary, especially if you are writing Truth. so sometimes the amount of naysayers and virtual stone throwers can be as helpful, if not more so, than those who are clapping loudly and winking knowingly.

looking forward to a new phase of writing more from me as opposed to simply being a space where i share others thoughts and stories [although hoping to always be a place where that can happen]…

are you ready, world?

truth

Wot another great theme, the great ones being ones open to a range of interpretation… so many pictures, so little space, but had a variety of shots that jumped out at me to use in this post, each bringing their own personal flavour to this Patterned Buffet:

Clockwise from the top left we have:

# the patterm formed by row upon row of white fluffy cloud hovering over the water and nature scene below like a flight of incoming U.F.O’s

# the unique pattern+shadow formed by the upside down bicycles hanging in our community house on Potter Street in Philadelphia

# both the shades and the shapes of the tyres and the paint which in this picture are all scattered around but are being prepared so that they can be places in a creative design around the new park area reclaimed for the children in our area

# the leaves that amass in front of the blurred image of my beautiful bride on our wedding day, almost as if they are an army, ready to command to do her every will

# the various patterns and shapes of different colour that individually resemble chaos but as they are crafted by my friend Karim come together in a beautiful design that he says is me and gives his unique nickname for me of ‘Fisher-man’

And then this last one stands out for me. The pattern formed by the water. Not quite Moses parting the Red Sea but my best attempt at it. The uniformity of the waves creating a stunning image of venturing forth’ness.

water spray

 

[For the previous Photo Challenge with the theme of ‘From Above’ click here]

last nite i was invited by some new friends we’ve made here to join the Oakland City Watch team in a walk they do around the neighborhood [we live on 61st Ave and we walked around the streets closer to 90th so not crazy far away] that has three messages for the people of the community:

# We care!

# We want to see an end to violence, especially gun violence!

# How can we help you?

so a roomful of maybe 40 to 50 people of all shapes and sizes [although apart from one grade seven boy i felt like the next youngest there so a bunch of 30 years and older people mostly] – black, white, hispanic, korean – from a variety of different churches, put on these white windbreaker identification jackets and armed with fliers that explained to anyone who asked what we were about, we walked the streets for maybe an hour, waving at cars who responded to the “Honk if you want an end to gun violence” signs and engaging with anyone who was interested as we walked past them. No specific message except that of unity and peace in the neighborhood and that we were hoping merely by our presence to make a difference [apparently since they started these walks 6 months ago, murders have decreased in the areas they have walked through]

this brief video on You Tube gives a glimpse into the heart behind the walk and introduces some of the hardcore leaders [mostly pastors from different churches] who are organising this thing.

“we want it to be tangible”

“more than just words from a tv from a pulpit”

“we want to be persistent. this is something we’re doing every week not just for one night”

“we don’t want to fight against the young men but against the violence itself”

as i walked the streets last nite, when i wasn’t engaging in incredibly life-giving conversation with this big African American ex-pastor called Ben who heads up the team [and who i found out lives a street away from me, so hoping for deeper connection there] and our new friend, Matt, i was thinking of Kensington where we stayed in Philly and how something like this could work so well there [and of my friend Derrick Gregory who i have already been in conversation with about the possibility of him thinking more through the possibilities it holds]

as i write this i think of my friends Sheralyn and Sammi who live in Woodstock in Cape Town and of the Pedersens and others who are doing a kind of organic church in the fringes of the city and how something like this might look for them.

i think of areas of huge gangsterism and violence like mannenberg and hanover park and wonder if the church there got mobilised to start doing something similar.

and am brought back to the conversation of stability i had with Ben and those conversations which i’ve been having with tbV for the last two years inspired by the monks of the Benedictine monastery we visited while staying at the Simple Way, and even the idea of incarnation [living amongst the people you are working with and ministering to] fostered by the Simple Way and my time in Kayamandi

i read a quote this week that said something like church is not the place you go to, but the place you go out from and that kind of feels like the strong surgings that i have within me right now [not really anything new, just a new flame being lit on this particular fire] and a loud powerful shout to the church of Cape Town [yes, you Common Ground and Christ Church Kenilworth and 100 others] to take seriously the need for the church to be outside of the building and on the streets if we are going to make any discernible difference at all to the state of things back home.

or wherever you are reading this. this idea is so ridiculously simply and just needs a small group of people to put their hands up and go, ‘hey, that’s something practical we can do right here.’

i feel like the previous few Easters have kind of passed me by with not too much impact – being the easily recognised dreadlock wearing Easter Bunny at the Simple Way is all i can remember and i’m not sure where i was the year before but in the middle of preparation to leave for the Simple Way and so life was a fair bit chaotic…

the last Easter that comes to mind was when my good buddy Mark Baker encouraged us to watch ‘The Passion of the Christ’ by Mel Gibson with our Sunday nite enGAGE congregation in Stellenbosch. i feel like i might have initially done it more to humour him than because i thought it was a good idea, but remember being powerfully affected again by the very violent depiction of Jesus’ flogging and death [i really feel like the cross can become this fluffy comfortable symbol we hold to but lose all meaning of if we forget the very violence and real sacrifice it depicts]

the stations of the cross

so as we started heading towards Easter in Oakland i really wanted it to be meaningful and so spent some time this week reading the end of John’s Gospel and some of Jesus’ last acts, words and prayers. last nite we jumped at the chance to join some new friends of ours to head to a church for a ‘stations of the cross’ experience where we walked around in small groups [we joined a family of five with three cool young kids] and then read scripture, reflected and did an action and a prayer connected to different aspects of Jesus last week leading up to His death.

i find it interesting that when the one station invited us to kiss the figure of Jesus on the cross [i chose not to] that it felt more weird for me than later when we were asked to spit at the figure of Jesus on the cross [i chose not to do that either, but more following the lead of Val] – as if the betrayal hidden behind a kiss seems somehow so much worse than the outwardly open betrayal of showing your true colours through spitting.

[i wonder if that is because i can’t think of any time in my life when i have outwardly or openly joined the crowd in being against Jesus in any way or form, but there are countless times where my innocent looking actions have shown a deeper betrayal in what has been going on in my heart or somewhere else behind the scenes. a subtle hypocritical betrayal somehow feels so much worse… and so time and time again i hear the cock crow and have that moment of looking up and seeing Jesus’ eyes pierce through me as i realise once again i have done that which i said i never would, and i end up behind a wall somewhere crying out as Jesus is lead once more to the cross by my actions]

Pilate washes his hands

Pilot’s washing of his hands affected me deeply as it did my wife Val [which you can, and should, read here] as i took it on myself to explain it to the children who were with us, specifically Kayla, the oldest daughter. the idea of “making no decision” because the decision you know you should make has consequences which just feel too extreme for you. being reminded that ‘making no decision’ is always making a decision.

apartheid. racism. violence towards women. rape culture. discrimination. abortion. being reminded that ‘making no decision’ is always making a decision.

there are so many aspects to this story. i hope that you will make time this Easter time in the busyness of it all to slow down and choose a moment, or moments, to meditate on. and then reflect against the daily living out of your life. has what Jesus did on the cross affected your day to day life in any way, shape or form?

the story of this week, two thousand years ago, affects me on a daily basis. it is so good to be reminded of that. and to live it out well.

so yesterday morning i come downstairs and i log into Facebook and am busy catching up on the nights mail when suddenly a word in another mail in my inbox catches my attention… it’s a mail from my wife, the beautiful Val [tbv] with some bank details regarding flight money and my comment below it says, ‘bitch, i want all the money’

[cue me confused] so i start trying to work out what word i was going for cos i have clearly mistyped when suddenly, in the inbox to my left a new mail rises to the top of the pile, addressed to my former UK housemate from the Simply Way with brett fish anderson [that’s me] writing “Fuck you”

You've been hacked...

[confusement changing to panic as i realise i’m being hacked but all this live and while i am in my account] so i quickly scramble towards the password changing settings menu and as i do i get a notification and it is one of my old friends who i have not been in any contact with for a long time and he is saying ‘now why would i do that?’ so i click on it and on his status which was something along the lines of ‘Have a great week everyone’, brett fish anderson has commented ‘i hope you die.’

[password changed and hoping that is it – ticked the option to ‘log me out of all devices i am currently logged into’ – nice touch Zuckers – and waiting to see if the surreal movie-type experience has finished… my buddy Dunc, who i am staying with, walks downstairs so i share the story with him and he tells me to check my activity log – good job Zuckers – and so i do – just three other people fortunately – old church friend, old cape town friend and my boss’ wife all with the eloquent ‘F___ you’ scrawled upon their page [by brett fish anderson of course] and so managed to delete them]

by this time i have an email from a friend from The Simple Way suggesting i might have been hacked and copying the mail from my boss’ wife to me which i have just deleted…

so crisis largely averted – i think one downfall of the hacker was being over the top in terms of using language no one would have suspected i would actually use in that way – but it was a little freaky as it started to happen in front of my eyes [maybe better that way rather than arriving to 200 sent out messages i guess] and felt a little bit like being trapped in a movie…

i have seen a lot of hack attempts and been the victim on occasion, but that was definitely the most malicious one i have personally encountered. feels a little bit violationary…

and is it boss’ wife or bosses wife?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

i really like this picture of me and the reason i chose it for this particular challenge is the idea of casting a wider shadow.

the past 18 months i spent as part of a non-profit organisation called the Simple Way which in some cases meant a broadening of shadow as i was given the potential to influence [to some extent] an organisation that is world-known and has an extended sphere of influence and audience…

but in other ways my personal influence was limited as i put my weekly ‘Thort for the Week’ emailings largely on hold, for six months stepped away from blogging and for the most part did not have opportunity to speak to gatherings of youth or church peoples as i used to regularly used to.

and now a lot of that is about to change. not that one is necessarily better than the other. but in 2013, as in the photo, i am hoping to cast a longer shadow.

i will be starting up my weekly TFTW emails again and continuing to blog in a way that hopefully engages with people and it sounds like there will be opportunities in Oakland to do one of my favourite things – speak to people about God and Love and ‘life to the full’ness…

how are you hoping to be of positive influence to others this year?

[For the previous Photo Challenge on the theme of ‘Surprise’ click here]

simple way

Wow! 19 months flew by, just like… well 570 days, really.

June last year, after about four months of weekly Skype calls with our present and to be future bossman Darin Petersen, the beautiful Val [tbV] and i arrived in Kensington, Philadelphia, Americaland to live and work at the Simple Way non-profit as part of the first batch of an internship program [which was later upgraded to a residency program when they saw our skills, or something]…

[a fun fact is that i was born and raised in an area called Kensington in Johannesburg, South Africa, the country and so in one sense it was a return to my roots but not really]

We joined Erica [aka Amy Winehouse meets activism], Aaron Condo…n [aka Monkman, master, my lord] and Beth [aka Beth or the Doodler, or quite possible milkwoman, altho we never called her that] who was doing a shorter three month internship and we became known as ‘The Village People’ [the house we stayed in was called the Village House, we did the YMCA a lot less than you would probably imagine]. The first internationals to be invited to be part of the program, so quite a bit of a risk really. Shane Claiborne and his new bride Katie Jo lived a few houses down the road, Darin and his wife Meeghan and their kids Just Ice [as i called him, because i wanted to give him a little space] and Madix… and then a handful more people who lived in other places but worked with us in the office… and later Sueihn Lee and Dan Brearley were added as Erica, Aaron and Beth [twice] moved on…

This is the passage that indirectly got me there, that i had been wrestling with when i chanced upon Shane’s book, ‘The Irresistible Revolution’ 6 years before, which resonated with a lot of my struggles with how church looked like now compared to then – ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’

and tonite we fly out… season over… back to South Africa to hang out with friends and family and watch some live cricket dressed as a Hobbit and hopefully get some hockeying and improv in and meet my new nephew Joshua and get to see if i was telling lies about South Africa mayonnaise for the last 19 months and have some braais and my mom’s secret birthday dessert she makes for me once a year and possibly pool party and hopefully get my dreads touched up and get some rest and relaxation and reflection and more…

before a new season begins. which will be with the same boss, different no-profit [Relational Tithe, or as it is about to be more commonly known Common Change] but the absolute same task of following Jesus [or trying to] and seeking to be a part of His kingdom growing here as it is in heaven.

and so the big question i guess, as we enter one of those reflectful times of both the end of a life season and the end of a calendar year [sorry Mayans, the Romans were right!] is how was the time? Good, bad or ugly? A combination of all, perhaps? Was the way simple?

i guess you will have to take me out for coffee [or a rack of Spur Ribs with extra basting] when we get home and you can ask that in person…

i can tell you it wasn’t easy. well, not all the time, some parts were really easy. Val and i love Kensington. we absolutely love Philly. we love so many of the people we got to meet and hang out and do life with.

i can tell you we would definitely make the same decision to do it all again – good, bad and ugly.

but it is time to go. and so later today i think we will.

i do still very much love Jesus and am hungry to see His kingdom come.

after years and years of loving Him [or trying to] and serving Him [ditto] i have found that His way, although simple in concept, is very rarely simple when you actually try to actively live it out. [fortunately He never leaves you to do it alone…]

so a new year, a new location, a new mission…
but still the continuing overall theme of ‘Love God, Love people… and all the rest is commentary!

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