Tag Archive: the simple way


so probably close to 15 years ago i wrote a challenging email to a couple of friends of mine about some aspect of following Jesus… a week later i did the same… at some point i told someone about it and they asked to be added and so i added them… pretty soon i started spam-inviting people from the typical cheesy group Christian emails that used to hit my inbox and some of them decided to join… after a while i moved from hotmail to yahoogroups as a means of sending an email to a bunch of people in one move as opposed to adding each individual email address… and somewhere in the middle of all of that it got the name ‘Thort for the Week’ which i did pretty regularly until i joined the Simple Way 19 months ago and took a bit of a sabbatical and then in the last few months wrote more ‘Thort for the Three Month’ than for the week…

a few people became ten people which then reached 100 and at some point i crossed the 1000 mark of subscribers and when i went on sabbatical there were something like 3500 email addresses attached to the list… i imagine the number of people who actually receive them and read them is a whole lot less but i imagine there were a bunch of people reading and as we head home for a bit of a break and then start up with Relational Tithe next year i have felt like it might be a good thing to start up again [one thing i like about it is it keeps me focused on an issue or Christ-following idea for the week so at the very least generally proves helpful to me] and so i am planning on giving that a try in the new year…

if you are not someone who has previously been subscribed to Thort for the Week [‘Thort’ being the phonetical shortened spelling of ‘Thought’] and think this might be something you would like to take a look at, you can email me your preferred email address to brettfish@hotmail.com and i can add you to the list… Jan might be a little sporadic with being home and all, but hoping to get more weekly by Feb and beyond…

if you want to get an idea of what TFTW looks like then i think you can do so by clicking here and i would suggest scrolling back a year or so to when it was coming out more regularly…

this is not biblical exposition – it is aimed at engaging with an aspect of the Bible or Jesus-following and getting you and me to think about it a little more deeply and then hopefully apply it to our lives – taking Jesus seriously as if He really meant the stuff He said.

for the last 19 months, myself and my beautiful wife Valerie have been living and working with the Simple Way Christian non-profit organisation in Philadelphia, Americaland and yesterday was our last official office day… we fly out back towards South Africa on the 30th of December… can’t wait!

but what next? well we hope to spend around a month and a half at home and then [providing we find the financial support we will need to buy tickets back and live in the US for the next 18 months] fly to Oakland, California to work with our current Simple Way boss in a different and exciting non-profit organisation called Relational Tithe which also goes under the banner of Common Change.

‘Common Change is a utility designed to help connect you and your resources with people in your life. Compelled to action by my faith, we founded Common Change – an opportunity to imagine (and hopefully realize) a world where we are actively eliminating personal economic isolation. As Gandhi said, we believe that there is enough for all our need but not enough for our greed.  We are isolated mostly, not because the rich and poor don’t care about each other but because we don’t know each other.’

We see this as one form of re-imagining the Acts 2 model of the early church which is described like this:

‘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.’ [42 – 47]

if you have a couple of minutes to spare you can help us while also finding out a little bit more about this new and exciting venture we are going to be a part of – Common Change is up for a Giving of Life grant [that will match funds of us to $1000] and so you can go to this page and give us a vote or even give a donation towards the matching grant and there is some more information there on what Common Change is all about as well as a one and a half minute video which explains the concept very simply.

so please help us out by voting and if you feel like it’s a really positive thing [which it is] sharing and getting your friends to vote as well – Val and i have been part of Relational Tithe for about 8 months and it has been so inspirational and life-giving to see the kinds of needs and people that we have been able to encourage, help out and really give some measure of life to. This really feels like something that can be community and world-transforming as more people get involved.

thank you for your time, support and interest. you can expect to hear more from us in the coming month or two but this is a way to get involved in a quick and easy manner right now.

so as tbV and i are nearing the end of our time here at the Simple Way in Philadelphia, Americaland, we have had to focus a lot on looking forwards at the exciting times and opportunities that lie ahead, but i also want to be mindful of taking some time to look back – there is a lot to be grateful for…

Thank You Fish

there is a saying that ‘God owns the cattle on a thousand hills’ but i would go one further and add that for the most part He seems to have placed that cattle in other peoples possession and without a bunch of generous people coming on board, we would have really struggled to make it here as relatively easy as we did.

december 2010: having alerted the church where i worked almost a year previously as to my intentions, i resigned after 6 years at the Stellenbosch Vineyard church and Val and i were obedient to what i had strongly felt God telling us in terms of waiting on Him for the next move… for Val is was a huger step of faith in a sense as she had not heard from God but had to trust that i had. So we started 2011 with not too much money and relatively no income.

waiting on God for the next steps can be a daunting thing, especially when you have no income and it is not as if expenses have dried up – we still were renting an apartment and paying for petrol [that’s gas for you Americaners] and trying to eat on occasion. Val was finishing her Masters thesis and apart from some tiny TheatreSports show income [altho to be honest, petrol to the show usually exceeded money from the show so that was never likely to send us overseas] and then later some dictation work we did, there was not a lot coming in. i was salaried for January and then nothing.

and when you start writing lists of people to thank, you will always leave out some key people, but there are some names i do want to mention that stand out and trust that if you did not get a mention it is just because it is early morning as i type this and for a minute you slipped my mind – we are completely grateful for anyone and everyone who helped in various ways.

Tim van de Venter is one who comes to mind who ‘randomly’ during one of the months we didn’t have salary, called us up and told us God had told him to pay a month of our rent. That was the only time that happened in a couple of months of not having rent and it turned out it was the one time e really needed it. i do remember a specific time [and think there were more] of needing to pay something on the Friday and knowing we didn’t have enough in the bank and going online when i got home to find someone had mysteriously deposited just what we needed in our account.

my friend and ex youth guy Steve Legendwood and his wife Anne totally blew us away with a gift from London that far exceeded ‘hey, here’s a nice little gift’ proportions, at a time when we really needed to buy air tickets to get over to Americaland.

one of the faceless [to me, i’m pretty sure he has a face] recipients of the weekly ‘Thort for the Week’ messages i used to send out weekly, a man named William Bates,  suddenly appeared out of nowhere and decided to start blessing Val and i with R500 in our bank account every month for a year [and i am pretty sure that year ended a while back, while the support didn’t]

shortly after we got here, an old family friend who i had not seen for probably ten years or so, Lisa Pieterse and her husband Jacques, started sponsoring Val and myself a generous amount per month to be used specifically for date night money, which was an incredible way to give us a gift [as we were able to use it solely for that without feeling guilty or as if we should be spending it elsewhere] and so it was really great when we got to host them between midnight and i think 4am one night as they had a Philly stopover on the airport and catch up and meet them for the first time.

my buddy Duncan and his wife Megs and young son Connor ‘What’s that?’ Houston [of the clan Houston] who invited me and Val into their home for the last week or ten days before we left South Africa [despite my housesitting reputation of setting off pretty much every single alarm in any house i have ever housesat and, sure enough, at something like 1am the one morning…] and have just been crazy generous in a lot of other ways as recently as lending the money [that we have coming in from tax back home but don’t have yet] to be able to buy a ticket so i can fly home and once again daring to have us stay with them once more.

our friend Naomi Brooks from Scotland but really Stellenbosch and now Scotland again, who has been uberly generous in all kinds of ways and manners since we have known her, but particularly for opening her flat to us before we left and then keeping us supplied with cards and letters and chocolate stash and gifts while we have been here – there are still not many things that beat receiving fun mail in the post that you can hold [and eat!]

and then those who i lovingly refer to as ‘My Top Deck crew’ and my, there are a lot of you… a few years ago i was awakened to the horrors of ‘Americaland chocolate’ in the form of something called Hershey’s [which is not chocolate – i hate to use the word ‘vomit’ so i cannot tell you what i honestly think of it, but it is bad] and while there are some saving graces in products like Dove and Ghirardelli [and the free ball they give you every time you visit a Lindt shop!] that do exist over here, nothing Tops the Deck and at times the generous donations from friends and family back home have really lifted me emotionally and given me strength to face another day, moment or challenge. after years of research back home it was shown that melted Top Deck, accompanied on occasion by melted Smartie Eggs, is at the top of the chocolate food chain. for some reason ‘left in the sun’ [and drunk from the bag] beats out ‘nuked in nukrowave’ in quality of taste and experience, but both are great. so THANK YOU – you know who yous are.

as i said, there were more people and occasions than i can possibly remember – i just felt it important to highlight a few [and special mention must go to Dreadlocked Mike and formerly Emo Kev who took hours out to start off my dreadlocks a day or two before we flew over here, and my beautiful wife for setting that up] in terms of letting you all know how grateful and thankful we are for the provision of God’s cattle, whether directly from Him [and we had the sense of those times] or indirectly through people in many ways, shapes and forms – we literally, figuratively and metaphorically could not have done it without you.

we have met so many generous and loving people here as well and give much thankx to the friendships and encounters and experiences and hospitality God has placed in our paths and a special mention must go to our friend Jon Butcher, who within a week or so of knowing me had offered to buy me a new laptop in place of my ailing one and who introduced us to some really cool friends and had some great hanging out times.

we love and appreciate and thank God for you all and for the hundreds or maybe even thousands of you who have stayed in touch and been praying and taken time to find out how we are doing and those who have visited or skyped or written… thank you, thank you, thank YOU! we have felt extremely loved. and supported.


so for friends back home there have been hints and allegations [a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires and baby] and subtle innuendos as to what might be pertaining to the future for the andersons after this year…

for those of you who have been following semi-closely, the beautiful Valerie [tbV] and i have been living, working and ministering with the Simple Way Christian non-profit organisation in Kensington, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Americaland since about June of last year and altho it has been one of the more difficult years of our lives it has also been a great year and an exciting one and one where we had no doubt at all that God had called us to be in this place at this time and so that really helped during some of the tougher times and so we will definitely look back at 2011/2012 as a good time of growth and challenge and hopefully transformation, for both us and also the Simple Way and the area of Kensington we lived in and all those we came into contact with.

“but what next?” i hear you ask. well i don’t, really, cos that would be creepy, but i am going to imagine someone asked it, so that i can give a little bit of a glimpse into the future that we are facing [sorry, Mayans! – yes, being cocky about the predicted end of the world is something anyone who is doubting it can feel free to do because if you’re wrong then who gets to rub it into your face? score!]

so our time here at the Simple Way runs until the end of the year – the office winds down around the 23rd of December and then we have just booked tickets South-Africawards for the 30th [arriving home 1 January 2012] where we will be for a month to a month and a half if all goes according to plan [which will include a trip to Durban to visit my sister Dawn and her husband Glen and our new nephew Joshua and also a bunch of our friends] and then sometime in February we will head back to americaland, but this time settling in Oakland, California where we will be working once more with our Simple Way boss, Darin Petersen, but with another non-profit called Relational Tithe [soon also to be known as ‘Common Change’] for around 18 months and beyond that we are trusting that God will direct once more…

when we are home i hope to be playing lots of TheatreSports, hopefully some hockey and drinking a whole lot of coffee with friends and family as we catch up and hang out and refresh and catch up and prepare for the next part of our exciting life journey together. [Val will be testing out the beaches and cocktails and making sure they continue to meet Cape Town’s high standards]

one of the obstacles we face is the task of finding finances to firstly return to americaland and then to be able to live here [in a somewhat different context to Kensington] for the eighteen months that follow. support-raising is not something either Val or i flock towards with open arms, but the work we are returning to is something that excites us in terms of the potential it has for life, community and church transformation, that we may have to be willing to swallow our pride and have some interesting conversations with some of you. neither of us like the idea of being tricked/manipulated into giving to even something that is a good cause and so i wanted to be up front with what will have to somehow be a part of this trip. so more of that to follow.

but mostly we are looking forward to people [not all of the people we want to see will be there – some are in the UK and Switzerland and Australia and a host of other places] and being able to tell stories and share a glimpse of what these last 18 months have meant to us and share some of the anticipation of what the next part of our journey will look like.

and probably in one of the strangest aspects of the whole trip, i, brett fish anderson, will be looking forward to mayonnaise, because no offence americaland, but you SUCK at making it…

much love and thrilled anticipation
brett fish anderson [brettfish@hotmail.com] and the beautiful Val [and of course No_bob]

at the simple way tonite we had Chris Haw come and share on the question of whether or not to vote…

it was a really interesting discussion and sharing time and i imagine there was enough sensible reason given to vote [and this seriously piss off the ‘thou shalt not vote’ people] as well as enough sensible reason given not to vote [ditto with the ’tis within your moral obligation to the world to vote’ crowd] and so at the end of the time i was not really left with a definitive feeling either way [altho with far greater understanding as to why people would choose either way]

what was definitive was the following though: voting isn’t enough.

i think both Chris and someone else [if not everyone else] in the crowd shared something along the lines of ‘we vote every day with our lives’ and that is the real truth – in whether or not we choose to recycle, in the places we buy our clothes and food from, in the way that we treat those considered to be ‘the least of these’ by society that we pass every day [often on the other side of the road as we probably have some important thing to get to, right??], in the ways we choose to love or not love those we are or aren’t in relationship with and in a whole host of other things…

Joshua had it right when he stood in front of the people and in one of my favourite old testament passages in the Bible, he puts it like this:

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” [Joshua 24. 14-15]

the bottom line: Choose this day Who you will serve.

for those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus, this means that every day we vote with our lives – our ‘party line’ is that we will be known by the Love we have one for another and i think everyone knows how far we need to go to get that reputation to stick… but it is question far more vital than the one that is going to be answered on Tuesday in the United States of Americaland through the election results that will follow… and regardless of who comes into power, we are from a kingdom that is not of this world and it is to that end we work and live and have our being…

life to the full! both for me and for those around me who may not have as easy access to it as i do.

which leaves us with the question, how are you going to vote?

so yesterday afternoon, after a week of staff strategic planning as the Simple Way, everyone left except for the four of us from the Village House [yes, the Village People!] which is myself, the beautiful Val [tbV], Sueihn and our newest band member, Dan from the UK [formerly dread-wearing Dan] so that we could have an extra day at the venue to bond and get to know each other a little better…

as we finished out dinner and tried to figure out what to do for the evening, tbV came up with a list of suggestions of which some were really creative and some really silly and some creatively silly and Dan came up with a suggestion of a combo of events and so each grabbed about ten slips of paper and wrote down a bunch of questions for each other and then headed out to the town and found a mexican restaurant and altho the mudslides were replaced with chocolate mousse the rest of the evening went pretty much to plan…

the idea was you can leave the question blank if you want the person who pulls it out the bag to answer it, draw a star if you want that person to choose who is going to answer it and draw a moon if everyone else except the person with the question has to answer it.

i won’t go into any of the specific questions and definitely can’t share any of the answers, but there was a huge range from raucously silly to hectically intense and it was such a solid time of connecting with each other, laughing and getting emotional and really just going a little bit deeper than a typical evening’s entertainment might have taken us.

it was an incredible evening. and a reminder that we have to make more of those moments. just in general. not necessarily all the time. but some of the time. while eating a meal, or hanging out together for a games night, or even at a community potluck perhaps. writing a bunch of questions on some paper is so easy as is pulling together a ‘the paper game’ or picking a topical conversation piece… and moving away from the typical movies, music, sport fill-in-the-time conversations that often become the only ones we safely get drawn towards.

so yeah, just a simple reminder of making the most of moments together. and insanely good to see how relationship just rockets ahead.

do you have any similar ideas of ways you have spent time with a group of people that have been simple yet profound?

on the way to the CCDA conference in Minneapolis that a bunch of us from the Simple Way are currently attending, three of us stopped over at a Nurturing Communities event hosted by David Janzen who has just released a book on community and met up with a bunch of people from different intentional communities all over the country and spent a really great day connecting and dialoging and having an opportunity to connect with some of the monks at this incredible place called St John’s Abbey.

the one idea that came out of a few people [and especially from the monks from this 1500 year or more old order] was a concept that i have semi visited sporadically over the last few years in terms of thinking about it but never really written anything on it and that is the idea of STABILITY.

the world as most of us know it is not currently well aligned for the concept – we have become a people of instant gratification whether it be microwaved meals or instant messaging or 2 year stints at a job before changing company or sometimes even vocation and so the idea of sticking with something for a long time does not come as naturally as it once did.

but there is something valuable in STABILITY, well a lot of things, but possibly the most powerful is RELATIONSHIPS.

try as we might by poking and retweeting and being skype-able we have just not been able to come up with instant relationships… well not often, and certainly not effectively. i mean we have definitely given a shot and as witnessed perhaps by a rising divorce or single parent rate the concept of disposability is also something we’ve quickly embraced as opposed to perseverance, hard work and commitment. if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it as Beyonce so famously sang, followed quickly by if you stop liking it then remove the ring and if possible put it on the next person or thing that you like… walk away, don’t look back [remember Lot’s wife] just turn away and keep walking, and then rush to the next thing…

the monk’s take a vow of stability and it was interesting to hear that these Benedicting monks take a vow to the specific monastery as opposed to the denomination or Benedictine group as a whole… so there is commitment to the movement but the specific commitment in the form of a vow is aimed at the specific location [and it is not set in absolute stone and so there are ways to move to another monastery but it is quite a big deal – for the most part it means a commitment for life or a significant portion thereof]

when i think of intentional community and being part of neighborhood change then the idea of STABILITY resonates strongly with me – especially in a neighborhood as transient as ours where many people might be there for six months or less at times – there needs to be some form of stability somewhere to strengthen, encourage and build into those people who do stay longer and might decide [or have it decided for them] to make this place their home.

we look back at something that happened last year and try to speak of the change we see in our community whereas these monks refer to incidents that happened 50 or 100 years ago that helped shape their common life… it is a completely different mindset and one that bears much thought and consideration…

what if more people put down their roots and committed to a specific place and a specific people… or group of people… for ten years or even twenty… what kind of long-term change might be possible then? how much would our focus on the long-term nature of our community and the bigger questions of justice weigh on us?

definitely think this is a topic that demands a lot more thought and conversation…

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