The other night Joel and I were sitting on his back porch talking about life together. While we were sitting there starring up at the stars I had a fear in my heart that I had kept supressing all this week. I think it is a fear that many post-grads have.
What if I am not doing what I was made to do?
I graduated university having no clue what to do next. I tend to be passionate about many things. When I have a cause before me I fully immerse myself in studying and finding ways to help. I never knew how all the things I love could fit into my life and work though.
How can a girl who dreams of being a worship leader fight human trafficking and care for the forgotten of society?
And now having been trained in South Africa to spread the Gospel I work in a popsicle shop in downtown Dallas. It makes sense that every once in a while I get this terrifying thought that I am not where I’m supposed to be, right? I think that Satan likes to keep us quiet in our fear. It’s a way of keeping us trapped while we strive to go about our daily lives pretending all is well. For the most part it is.
On the drive home I started thinking about other people my age and even people younger and older still trying to figure life out. We are all on a journey through life. It is a journey with unexpected twists and turns through dark tunnels and over mountain tops. It is okay to be afraid at times. It’s not something to keep hidden from myself or others.
This morning during my time with God, I opened up my Bible to Psalm 138. At the end of this Psalm is a beautiful verse that breathed life into my fearful heart. “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;” That is not a “maybe” or an “if I do everything right.” That is a confident assurance that God will fulfill that which he has started in me. David goes on to say that, “your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Throughout Scripture God reveals his character to us. He is loving. He is a shephered. He is a good Father.
I don’t have to live with a fear in my heart that maybe I am not where I should be or am not fulfilling my purpose. God is leading me. And life is a crazy adventure through hills and valleys to foreign lands until I arrive home with my Savior.So maybe right now I have a random job making popsicles in a part of town I had never been, but even there God promises that He “will fulfill his purpose for me.” May we live each day with a confident assurance of this.
“Your Testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”
– Psalm 119:24
The testimonies of God is something that comes up a lot throughout Psalm 119. This Psalm is where I have planted myself for the past few weeks. Earlier this year, my counselor suggested that I read slowly through the Psalms and meditate on the words being prayed throughout the book. I had been struggling with a lot of anxiety. So this was a way for me to slow down and remember who God is. 7 months later I’m still reading and praying through them. The word “testimony” has continued to come up. So I kept praying that I would find joy in the testimonies of my fellow brothers and sisters. I prayed that I would also be reminded of God’s goodness through my testimony.
The other day while I was finishing my shift at work, one of my co-workers, H, asked me if I considered myself a Christ-follower. I got real excited to have a conversation about Jesus. What H shared with me blew me away. He told me about what God had been doing in the town of Oak Cliff during the past week. Oak Cliff is an area in Dallas/Fort Worth region that is not a place many people choose to go to. It is kind of a forgotten area in this region. The university that H attends is in Oak Cliff. This is also where some of his family lives. One of the testimonies that he shared with me happened at a party in Oak Cliff. He stopped by after work to see his family. While there he had a strong sense that he was to pray for healing for his aunt. He listened, and obeyed, and she was healed. Everyone at the party witnessed this healing. Yet, they thought it was through the strength of man. They cheered on his aunt telling her how proud they were that she had gotten better. H felt a nudge to take the microphone and tell his family that it was God who healed her. Though hesitant, he stood up and told them that this was not the work of man, but of God. After this he told them about who God is and offered to pray over any who were sick or injured.
One woman who God healed during this time told this coworker that when he touched her she saw a butterfly come out of his mouth and fly around. When he told me this part of the story my heart stopped. For the past few weeks I have seen so many butterflies. As I have gone on walks and as I’ve driven to and from work I’ll often see a single butterfly float in front of me and around me. I started getting a sense of peace every time I saw one. It was like a reminder that God is with me. His Spirit is inside of me. I don’t have to be afraid. So when H shared that story with me I knew God was with us in that office at work and He is with us in this city. In the places of darkness and fear God is bringing peace, life, and freedom.
Almost two weeks ago my team and I arrived back in the United States. Slowly I am adjusting to life in the States. The last month that I was in South Africa I was constantly feeling fatigue and dizziness due to various health issues. So, I was forced to take things slow during our outreaches. This was challenging and at times discouraging. However, God showed me how much he constantly cares for me through my team and the people around me. Now that I am in the U.S. I am getting health checkups and will be finding a good doctor who can hopefully help me manage my different health issues.
Despite lots of sickness, our last month in South Africa was a whirlwind adventure. We had the opportunity to help put on a missions conference for the entire Ethnos mission organization. We also got to travel to seven out of the nine provinces in South Africa. My team travelled to a city called Roodepoort to do inner city outreach with a couple that provide early childhood development training for preschool teachers. We spent a week in Roodepoort under their leadership going to different preschools in the morning. There we taught the children about God and His incredible love for each of them. During these times we felt challenged by the language barrier, cultural differences, and even age differences. However, we enjoyed being able to sing, dance, and color with the children despite our differences.
In the afternoons we stayed at the Ethnos office in Roodepoort and led a holiday program for the children in the surrounding community. During this time we taught the children about the Bible. We focused on creation the love God has for all people. On the last day we shared with them the Gospel message. We also had the children make Gospel necklaces to remind them of the wonder of what Jesus did on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. This was a powerful reminder to each of us to share the love of Jesus with everyone.
We also travelled to George. While there my team had time where we were able to experience the beauty of South Africa. We also had the opportunity to meet with the leader of Ethnos and discuss the vision that he has for the organization. While there we also helped paint a house that had been burned from the recent fires that greatly affected a lot of the coastal cities.
Before we returned to the U.S. we visited the city of Durban where one of our Ethnos leaders is from. His family welcomed us into their home and helped us to rest and process the past two months in South Africa. Before we knew it my team was on a plane headed back to the U.S. to go our separate ways. I sit in wonder at how at how God works. Through these past two months God has shown me so much about who He is and who I am as His daughter. I have seen and experienced a culture and place I never dreamed of going to. I have you all to thank for your prayers and support that brought my team and I all the way to South Africa and back. None of this would have been possible without you all.
These past two weeks have been full of ministry. We spent a few days painting and restoring the church that local Ethnos missionaries attend. It was a huge project. The result was beautiful and it was such a blessing to be a part of the church’s transformation as they transition into a new season. We also have had multiple opportunities to attend the church and meet the congregation there.
This past week and weekend we went to a rural town about two hours Northwest of Pretoria called Loding. We spent four days there preaching, doing home visits, praying, and being part of a Youth Conference. Being in Loding has by far been my favorite part of being in South Africa. While in Loding, we worked with a woman named Mama Dorothy. She works for Ethnos and has an awesome team that helps her in spreading the truth of the Gospel in Loding and neighboring communities. She really challenged each of us to get out of our comfort zones during the home visits. We each were given the opportunity to share a short devotional with the people we visited and offer prayer if they wanted. This was a challenge for me because the people whose homes we visited had each lost a loved one or were very ill themselves. I was encouraged by the power of the Gospel and God’s love for people. Here in South Africa there are many different religions and mixed beliefs, yet we have opportunities to show the character of God through loving people and being with them amid incredible difficulties.
As a team, we spend time every morning reading 1 Corinthians 13. In this chapter Paul is telling the Corinthians what love is. Love has become our theme on this trip. God has continued to reveal to each of us the depth of His love for us and for the world. I’m reminded of the first verse where Paul says, “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate” (MSG). As we continue to do outreaches where we preach and pray with people, our hope is that people see and hear the love of God through us.
Please continue to pray for my team as a lot of us are recovering from sickness. My teammate DJ and I both went to the doctor earlier this week because we have both been very sick for about a week. We found out that DJ has a viral infection and I have vertigo. So continue to pray for all of us as we recover and that we will have renewed strength for this last month in South Africa. Also pray that our team will remain unified.
It has been nearly two weeks since I left with a team from PBA (Palm Beach Atlantic University) to South Africa. We landed in Johannesburg on Wednesday, May 24th. Then we drove about an hour to a plot in Pretoria where we have been staying for the past couple weeks. Our time here has been beyond our expectations.
It is incredibly beautiful here in SA and the Ethnos team that has adopted us have been so hospitable to my team in every way. They encouraged us to rest for the first couple days to help us get over our jetlag. During these past few weeks, one of the Ethnos members from France has been teaching each of us how to cook properly. We have also spent a lot of time sharing our life stories with the entire team, from when we were born to why we came to South Africa. This has helped our leaders to know us better and for our team to grow closer together.
We have also begun to do outreaches in the city of Pretoria and in rural regions. These outreaches have primarily focused on sharing the love of Jesus with people who are unreached. There are a lot of homeless people living in the center of the city and in regions outside of the city. So, we have spent most of our outreach talking and spending time with homeless men.
Vusi is one of the men that we met during our homeless ministry. He lives with other homeless men in makeshift tents in a field. During the day, the men go out to look for work. They usually come back in the evening and sit around a fire talking and eating what food they can scavenge. When we first met Vusi, he told us a little bit about his story and how he is the most blessed man in the world because he has working feet and working hands. It was incredible just to hear about the faith he has in the midst of such worldly poverty. My team has continued to pray for him and bring him and the other men Bibles. One of the Ethnos members has also connected him to a local church that is only a five-minute walk from where he lives.
One of the first Saturdays here, my team also had an incredible opportunity to meet a woman named Mama V. She runs a safe house in the center of Pretoria for women leaving prostitution. On Saturday my team went to her house for a worship and prayer time with Mama V. and her girls. There was so much joy in this house as we worshipped and prayed together. It was a beautiful taste of what heaven would be like, worshipping God in every way and with every language.
Thank you so much for praying for my team and I as we are here in South Africa. Please continue to pray for us as we begin doing more outreach. Pray that God would continue to give us boldness as we encounter different cultures and people. Pray also for the people that we have already met – that they would truly desire to know Jesus.
Recently God has given me the incredible opportunity to pursue going on a two month mission trip over this summer to South Africa. A team of young adults from my school, Palm Beach Atlantic University, will be traveling there at the end of May to be involved in various ministries throughout the country. We will be partnering with Ethnos Movement International (EMI). This is an organization whose vision is to see all unreached people groups reached. If you would like to know more about EMI please visit their website: https://www.ethnosmi.org/about.
As many of you know my heart is to work in ministry full time with people who are unreached. Since hearing about this trip from my friend I have felt the call to go. I have had opportunities to work in the inner-city and with refugees during my time at PBA, but have not taken the opportunity to go on any of the missions trips that my school offers. I am excited to finally be taking this step to be involved in serving in South Africa and am so thankful for the friends and family who are already supporting me in pursuing this opportunity.
During these two months my team will be involved in ministries that are very close to my heart. We will be doing everything from orphan ministry, evangelism, youth ministry, working with human trafficking victims, working with refugees, and so much more. One of the major focuses of this trip is that the work we do has a sustainable impact. So, we will be partnering with local churches to ensure that there is follow-up work and discipleship after we leave.
For this trip, I need to raise a total of $3,000 by April 14th. My team and I are doing fundraising to help raise support for our trip, but if you feel called to give there are a couple ways you can do so. One option is by going to https://www.pba.edu/missions-give-now and in the additional information write “South Africa – Janelle Cripe.” Another option is by mailing a check written out to “Palm Beach Atlantic University” with “South Africa – Janelle Cripe” in the memo to Campus Ministries, PBA, PO Box 24708. A final option is by mailing a check directly to me at 403 Conniston Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33405.
Most importantly, I ask that you would partner with me in prayer that God would continue to open doors as my team and I prepare to go to South Africa and during the months that we are there. Thank you so much for your support!
This is a song called “Without You” by the band For King and Country. I am greatly encouraged by Luke (one of the band members) and his honesty about the struggle he faced during a time in his life when he was incredibly ill. This is a beautiful duet performed by him and his wife. It is also a brief portrayal of what their life was like during the times when he was ill.
They are courageous. I have found that telling our stories of living in great darkness are often the hardest to tell. However, may you be encouraged by these words “Hold fast, love lasts.” For these words are truth. There is a love that lasts forever. My prayer is that you would put your hope in Jesus Christ. For that is just the start of an incredible, terrifying, beautiful, and well worth it journey of knowing God.
“This thorn in my side though it cuts and stings me
Has opened these eyes, I’ve never seen so clearly
And oh God, I thank You, ’cause You bring me to my knees
Back on my knees
“I heard a voice from the other side singing
Hold fast, love lasts
As winter turns into summertime singing
Hold fast, love lasts
I heard a voice from the other side singing
Hold fast, love lasts
As winter turns into summertime singing
“So let’s dance a little, laugh a little, and hope a little more.” – Luke
Don’t take it too seriously. We’re playful, like cats with laser pointers. You’re the cat and we’re the laser pointer. Or something, I don’t know. Just take the joke and throw it back, okay?
2. Mean comments are displays of affection
There’s nothing more intimate or affectionate than me calling you an asshole and kissing you afterwards, trust.
3. We remember everything
That time you tripped outside the movie theatre, that embarrassing picture of you dressed as a lacrosse bro on Halloween freshman year. We like to keep our joke bank fresssssh, so don’t think that anything goes unnoticed or is off limits.
4. You can make fun of us too
We can honestly take a joke, even about our appearance. It’s fun when you bite back.