This morning I have another wonderful friend to introduce to you. She was one of the first people we met when we joined Agape UK - and we were both pregnant with our eldest kids! A long time ago!! She is passionate about God and a wonderful encourager, and I know that from personal experience! So without further ado - I'll let her introduce herself :)
I am Caroline Shave and I've been happily married to Geoff for 19 years and blessed with two funny, kind and creative children, Emily (12) and Nathan (10). If life begins at forty then that makes me just two years old!
I have been working alongside Geoff in Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC, known as Agape in the UK) for 20 years now. I started off in student ministry in Newcastle-upo-Tyne, England, then worked in training our staff and in events management and conferences when we moved to Islington, London, but always keeping my hand in student ministry. We now live and work in Namibia, southern Africa, heading up a CCC movement of evangelism and discipleship amongst students, in the workplace, in the community and in the local church.
How did you feel called to work here?
Before we moved to London we had said "Never London!", but God had different ideas and showed us a clear path, giving us much peace about moving location with a 6 month old baby. We loved London life and were very settled. Being very close to my family, I had never really considered moving internationally. However, God started speaking to us both in various ways, not least using the words spoken to Abram in Genesis 12:1 "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you". I began to realise that God may want us to move across the waters and Geoff and I started praying every Sunday night specifically to seek God's leading. Opening ourselves up to his.voice and direction meant that he challenged us on many things in our lives apart from giving us a clear call to move to Namibia where we had conducted a few short student projects previously.
Namibia is known as a Christian nation where many attend church but faith often doesn't seem to affect action and there is a lack of missional activity. We saw that, if Namibians could engage with deep discipleship, then this Christian nation could be a sending one, raising up workers for the harvest not just in Namibia but beyond it's borders. We could see that this was an adventure we could steer. We moved in November 2008.
What are the biggest cultural differences you've had to adjust to?
Moving to Namibia has made me realise just how British I am! Though we are happy and settled here the phrase 'It's not wrong it's just different' is forever playing in my mind, even now 5 1/2 years on. There are many different tribes and languages here which makes the cross-cultural adjustment all the more hard. For me, it has been the smaller things, that seem so insignificant on the surface, that can niggle away and make things a struggle at times. Minding your Ps and Qs in the UK is drummed into you from an early age, and throughout our schooling and yet, in Namibia, 'Please', 'Thank you' and 'Sorry' are not, on the whole, words frequently used. Such a simple thing really but it has caused me to feel unappreciated, devalued and taken for granted at times. Sometimes though it is not 'just different' but wrong as well and then I need to allow the Bible to challenge the culture, not my own imperfect British culture.
How do you live a life of love where you are?
The needs in Namibia are great. There is severe poverty, families are broken and death at a young age is not unexpected. Knowing where to serve and where to concentrate our efforts of love is not always easy. We start with those we know. We have a gardener who has five children and a sixth on the way. He lives in a small tin shack. We seek to help him financially but in other ways to, to ensure a brighter future for him and his family. The students we work alongside, particularly the student leaders of CCC, need to be loved when they are unloved, unappreciated and deeply hurt by their families. Trying to set an example of living a life of love and purity in our family is probably the biggest impact we can have.
How can we pray for you?
Please pray that we would be wise in our management of time, investing in the right people to help make Namibia strong in faith and a sending nation. Pray for compassion, love and grace as we work with alongside many different people. Pray for God's leading and direction as we lead this movement.
Thank you so much Caz, for sharing your story with us and for all the wonderful things you are doing out in Namibia. We will definitely be praying for you as you work, discipling them in their faith and seeking to really make a change in Namibia. You rock girl!!! :)