The Genesis Journey, South Africa
The following are snippets, edits, from a weekly journaldetailing events and experiences of the Genesis journey. The purpose of these posts are to record significant happenings, highlight people of impact, document important dates, confirm the Lord’s calling to South Africa, trace meaningful experiences for our collective memory, testify to the amazing grace of God, and give Him all the glory!
The other purpose of recording these episodes is for you to join us on this amazing journey. Now you can see the progress, hear the stories, understand unique cultural experiences, feel our excitement, laugh when we’re happy, encourage us when we’re disappointed, cry when we’re sad, share the Genesis story with others, and most importantly know who, where, why, what and how to pray.
Are you ready?
The Genesis Journey starts here……..
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Today marks the end, and the beginning, of our travels to South Africa. Almost one year ago, we officially launched Genesis University SA (September 1, 2018). During that time we established a board of directors, created policy, produced a stateside business plan and executive summary, traveled around America telling the Genesis story to everyone who would listen and raised money for the start up. On September 1, 2019 our family (Marion, Stephen, Esther, Grandma Cooley and I) will be “boots on the ground” in Johannesburg.
We rented a Chevy Silverado double cab pick up, loaded our luggage (10 pieces filled with clothes, personal items, gifts for David & Katie, and homeschooling curriculum) and drove to Chicago. Great trip, great drive and great truck. From Chicago we flew to Zurich, Switzerland. We could have opted for the “easy” 2 hour layover, but I’m married to “Let’s do something and get out of the airport and explore Marion!” So we choose the 10 hour layover, hoped on a train and visited the very cool city of Zurich. We observed cobblestone streets, fancy hotels, interesting food and old reformation churches (Ulrich Zwingli – “For God’s sake, do not put yourself at odds with the Word of God. For truly it will persist as surely as the Rhine follows its course. One can perhaps dam it up for awhile, but it is impossible to stop it.”
After wearing out Grandma and the kids, we took an hour long boat ride on Zurich Lake and then back to the Flughafen (airport in Swiss) for our trip from Switzerland to South Africa.
Stephen’s story – While we were going through security Stephen informed us that he left his wallet in the bathroom at the train station. Miss “Let’s do something and get out of the airport and explore Marion!” decided to take Stevo back and see if they could find the wallet. While they went back both Marion and I were silently praying they would find the wallet. And they did! Someone had turned it in to Lost & Found. However, in Zurich there is a train station lost & found law greater than God’s 10 Commandments which declares, “All 13 year old boys who lose their wallet must pay 30 Francs to the cheesehead lost & found guy in order to get their wallet back!” Since Marion didn’t take any money, and Stephen only had $12 USD and 2 Fandango movie cards worth $20, Stephen’s wallet will sit in lost & found for 30 days and then be thrown away!
Marion came back very frustrated and said she got the run around. I said she got a good run for her money!
Thursday, August 29, 2019
It’s been a long night on the plane. The kids are amazing travelers! Marion and I watched a movie together and then we tried to sleep. Sleeping on the airplane is always tough, but last night I was very excited about arriving in South Africa. I told Marion I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve!
As we flew over South Africa, I spent time in prayer asking the Lord to bless our time in SA. I prayed for people to assist us with accreditation, to help us find a vehicle, to protect my family, and to supply us with a new set friends. I am praying for Genesis those famous words of Reformer Zwingli, “It is impossible to stop it!”
Customs, baggage, new SIM cards for our phones, renting a vehicle no problems! Soon we were off to Randburg to stay the weekend at our friends, Tim & Michelle Cantrell. Tim & Michelle are in Durban so we stay with Tim’s parents and son, Evan.
Praise the Lord for Waze on my cell phone because we would never have found Sundowner on our own. This is a big city and people drive very fast on the freeway. I need to hurry up and get used to driving on the right side of the car and the left side of the road again!!
The kids were hungry and wanted to stop at KFC of all places. On our way in we passed a young beggar man. He was dressed in dirty clothes and had crazy rasta hair. We bought an extra lunch and I took it out to him. I explained the reason why we were blessing him with food was simply because Christ has blessed us with His love and salvation.
I pray that during our busyness here in South Africa, we don’t lose sight of the lost who surround us on a daily basis. No matter where we go, we are constantly aware of people’s need of the gospel of Jesus.
Friday, August 30, 2019
Woke up at 5:00 a.m. to attend a men’s Bible study at Antioch Bible Church. Matt Floreen, a friend from Malawi, was teaching on Deuteronomy 24 (10 miscellaneous laws). A very unique and interesting passage that reminds us to keep our eyes focused on God (vertical), in order that we can then focus on others (horizontal). When we understand God’s great love, mercy, grace and forgiveness, then we are more prone to offer this compassion to others around us.
Explored the Northwest suburbs of Joburg a bit before eating dinner with Joel and Rachel Kirby. They are American missionaries here working with an orphan care ministry called Onthatile Children’s Ministry. Stephen attended youth group at Antioch from 7-10 pm tonight and had a great time.
I counted at least 15 people that I already know at Antioch. Praise the Lord! At least we have some kind relationship with folks rather than having to make all new friends again!! I feel bad for the kids because they really are starting over. I can see them struggling and it hurts my heart. We need to pray that Stephen and Esther will make new friends quickly. I’m also praying that Stephen and Esther will become best buddies!
Saturday, August 31, 2019
Today we shopped around for a vehicle (webuycars.com), a huge used vehicle center. We looked at vans (buses), suvs (Toyota Fortuner) and trucks (bakkies). We only had one hour but got a good idea of what we want and how much vehicles cost. Ended up at the Mall of Africa – Krispy Kremedonuts, Starbucks coffee and a big steak dinner at Turn n’ Tender!
But the big news is……I downloaded the MLB At Bat app! First time in Africa we have fast enough internet!! I watched the Cards beat the Reds 10-6. Better yet, the Cubs lost so now we have a 2 game lead in the NL Central. Go Cards!
Sunday, September 1, 2019
Our Genesis one-year anniversary!!! We officially began Genesis on September 1, 2018. God has done so much in one year. Praise Him!
Attended Antioch Bible Church. Great sermon about “Passing the mantle of ministry.” This is what Genesis University wants to do – train, mentor and raise up the future generations of Christian leaders for South Africa and the world! The passage this morning was 2 Timothy 4:1-8. As always I recreated the main points into a Bible lesson(the blessings and curses of being an educator!).
How does Paul pass the mantle of ministry to Timothy?
What is the antidote/formula to avoid becoming like this?
So what does all this mean for the believer today? STEP OUT! Put your faith into action and watch God go into motion. Paul is not calling or charging Timothy to be idle, to be intellectual, to be thinking, but to be doing! Going! Paul is handing over the mantle of ministry to Timothy, to engage the enemy, to fight, to stand, to impact, to change the world for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now it’s our turn! We are stepping out with Genesis University South Africa!
Monday, September 2, 2019
Woke up in Pecanwood (Hartbeespoort Dam). I’m sitting at the dining room table looking out over a lake with mountains in the background. A variety of birds, including Grey Louries and yellow Weavers, are putting on a show for me!
Talked on the phone with Kenneth Manual, a professor from University of South Africa (UNISA). He is our connection to accreditation. I’m meeting with him Tuesday or Wednesday for lunch. This is a huge item of prayer!
Other items of prayer – need to purchase a vehicle and a coffee machine…the two most important things in my life at the moment…ha ha! Actually we need to open a bank account, organize cell phones, get the kids working on homeschooling, plug into church & youth group, get a post office box, arrange all our print media and stationary with local contact details, upgrade our website, communicate with folks back in the States, continue to development work, set up a bi-weekly schedule with Zach Clark, and meet with accountants to finalize government approval leading towards Visa applications!
And in the midst of all this something incredible happened. While I was working in the backyard, pruning some bushes and cleaning out an old bird bath, I heard someone at the front gate. It was a man dressed in a gardeners uniform. He introduced himself as Joseph. I walked up to the front and before I got to the gate this man said, “Oh it’s you Dr. Spencer! I can’t believe it! My spiritual father has come to South Africa. How’sDavid, Jon Jon and Caleb?” Joseph, is from Malawi. We knew him as JJ and he worked as a caddy at the golf club where I ran a Bible study for years. If we needed confirmation that moving to Pecanwood was the correct choice, we found it!! JJ is coming by to see me again on Friday.
Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Took Marion to the airport today. She is flying up to Uganda to spend time with David, Katie and little Addie. Addie has been fighting an ear infection for a few days. David is playing in the Uganda Open golf tournament starting on September 4 (it’s a four day event).
Came straight home from the airport because Stephen was throwing up last night. He’s doing much better. He could have been victim of a bad Mikey D’s Big Mac! We stopped for McDonalds yesterday for lunch. It was an interesting experience. This was one of the more updated McDonalds I’ve been to. The kids enjoyed self-ordering on the kiosk machine. It was a two-story restaurant and super clean. Then we watched a black family come in. The grandma was dressed in beautiful African clothes full of colors. She had on traditional jewelry and necklaces (those round ropes that go around your neck). She was also carrying a cake! But the most interesting part of her outfit was a pair of hightop canvas Converse All-Stars! We stopped and said how beautiful she looked. And she looked up with a big smile and teeth covered in gold and said, “It’s my birthday!” And her family was celebrating her big day at the Golden Arches!
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Ken Manuel bounced our appointment to Friday, so I met up with another missionary Joel Kirby. We had lunch at Roco Mammas (my favorite smash burger joint in SA!). Then we went and bought phones, SIM cards and air time. Because I don’t have a long-term visa, we have to rely on others to assist us with things like phones and bank accounts. It’s frustrating but certainly something we can overcome. Joel was explaining about the crime in SA. It’s bad. Everyone is paranoid and is constantly looking over the shoulders. And for good reason too. Everyone I’ve met over the last three years or so has a personal story or a friend that has been involved in some kind of violent crime. It happens everywhere, anytime and to almost everyone! Joel did say he’s never had someone break into his house.
Right now in Johannesburg, people are rioting because of Xenophobia. The SA blacks don’t like the fact that other black people from other countries are coming to SA to work. They say these folks are stealing jobs. It’s actually not a bad argument especially as SA has almost 40% unemployment. But the ways they are taking matters into their own hands is not good. People are being murdered everyday. Foreigners are scared. Eva, the housekeeper here is from Zimbabwe and she is very nervous.
Just in the paper today, the front headlines were about a 6 year old white girl who was kidnapped and help for ransom, a university of Cape Town student who was raped and killed, rioters clashing with police, people defending their homes with excessive force, the corruption of government, the president of Nigeria saying he’s going to bring in a special taskforce to protect Nigerians living in Joburg, and to top it all off a son decapitated his father and stuck the head in a plastic bag. This is Anderson Cooper’s CNN on steroids! I’m not reading the paper anymore!!
Thursday, September 5, 2019
Went to look at vehicles today. We really like the Toyota Fortuner. It’s a 3.0 diesel engine with 7 seats. It’s a perfect vehicle for our family. The only problem is that it’s one of the most stolen cars in SA. All the taxis in Joburg are Toyota Quantum vans (we had one in Malawi). We sold it in Malawi because everyone told us we would have it for one week and then wake up one morning to find it was gone straight to Soweto, repainted and running as a taxi. I guess the Fortuner has the same engine as the Quantum.
Even the guy at the dealership (who’s job is to sell cars!) said, the Fortuner is great but they get stolen more than any other vehicles. Well at least the guy is honest!! I’m not sure I want to be driving a vehicle and always be thinking that the guy behind me is going to car jack us! I plan to keep looking through the weekend.
I received and encouraging email and some wise counsel from pastor Kurt at HDC:
I rarely read the Message by Peterson, but I thought this paraphrase from Proverbs 9:7-10 was helpful.
“If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins.
So don’t waste your time on a scoffer; all you’ll get for your pains is abuse.
But if you correct those who care about life, that’s different—they’ll love you for it!
Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it; tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.”
Go find the wise and make a difference there!
Friday, September 6, 2019
Today I drove into town and met with Matt Floreen of Antioch Bible Church. They are assisting me with physical and postal addresses for our corporation and non-profit status. We also talked about vehicles. I have determined that the best vehicle for us is a Ford Everest. Basically the same vehicle as a Toyota Fortuner, but less chance of getting car-jacked.
Next I went to open a bank account with FNB. Things like this will be difficult since we don’t have our permanent/long term visa. I need to get our three corporate SA directors – Leon, Marion and I to the bank and sign docs. Leon only gets to Joburg in two weeks time. No worries! Africa is all about being patient and waiting!!
Finally had my first meeting with professor Ken Manuel. Ken’s family immigrated from India. His father worked for World Vision. Ken is a graduate of Oxford University and teaches/administrates Economics within the Business department. Ken has recently become a South African citizen…after trying for 14 years!!! Talk about being patient!!
Ken has agreed to assist us with the accreditation process. Ken is going to help me organize education experts that are familiar with government accreditation and approval. He is a believer and very excited about the project. We are meeting again in two weeks. I will continue to pursue my contacts within the Ministry of Education department and see if they are willing to assist us further.
Stephen went to youth group tonight at Antioch church. It’s a mixture of high school age kids and college age interns. Stevo had a great time, especially as he was the king of the ping pong table. For being only 13 he can really play well.
Drove home late last night. I remembered to be careful at stop signs and traffic lights. Nobody fully stops at night, so I was practicing my California stops in Johannesburg! The crime is bad. My friend Joel & Rachel Kirby were broken into two nights ago. They have security cameras around their house and were able to record 2 thieves breaking in at 3:00 a.m. They took the front gate off the hinges and then proceeded to steal the electric security gate motor. At least they didn’t enter the house. It’s very strange, and somewhat exhausting, having to constantly think about security. I am praying for a healthy balance of trusting the Lord fully, and being cautious/smart (not paranoid) about keeping my family safe!
Saturday, September 7, 2019
Woke up with a text and video from Joel Kirby (the missionary who said he’s never had a break in). The video showed two men (on Joel’s security camera), lift up the electric metal gate off its wheels, open the gate (this was at 3 am last night) and enter the property. They stole the electric motor within a few minutes. Thankfully this was all they took and did not enter the home.
Monday, September 9, 2019
Marion comes home from Uganda today. She had a great time visiting David, Katie and baby Addie! Addie began to really walk this week so it was nice getting videos from Marion on What’s App! She was also there to witness David get a top ten finish in the Uganda Amateur Open. He also came in second place on net score and won a trophy, a new golf bag (which he desperately needed) and a 3 wood. With a top ten finish, David is invited to play in the Uganda Pro Open whichstarts this coming week at the same golf course. Competition will be stiff and he’ll need better scores to make the cut!
Received a nice email from Ken over the weekend:
Hope you are doing well and had a blessed weekend.
It was great to meet you in person on Friday. Thank you for thinking about me and bringing me onboard. I will help in anyway possible and will be earnestly pray for the day that Genesis will open its doors in South Africa.
I will be attending lectures this coming week at Henley Business School, based in Sunninghill, Johannesburg. I intend to secure an appointment with DHET consultant there and will request for a face-to-face meeting with him. I will email the document pack for Genesis University that you sent me earlier this year.
Are there any other documents you think I should include, or can I send through the ones I already have? Once we understand the DHET accreditation process, I am sure we will speedily implement the initial degree offerings.
Once again, thank you for this opportunity and I am looking forward to working with you.
God bless. Ken.
I really like the fact that Ken is excited about the opportunity to put Genesis on the map! Like me, he is enthusiastic “for the day that Genesis will open its doors in South Africa!” Also, I’m happy that he’s thankful for the opportunity to serve alongside. This is exactly the person we’ve been praying for!!
Also, turned in our rental car (Toyota Corolla) to Budget and then rented a long-term vehicle (a Nissan Almera) from Tempest. The cost is only $90 per week. Now we can take our time and find a suitable vehicle to purchase.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
On this date 18 years ago we were in Malawi watching the horrific bombing of the Twin Towers in NY city. This event certainly impacted and changed the way we travel back and forth to Africa. Security is much tighter and all for a good reason. I remember most of our Malawian friends cried with us on that day, but there were also many more Africans that celebrated our loss.
Today a Yellow Weaver began a nest in our backyard. He’s building his home not too far from where we hung several bird feeders and made a nice bird bath. I think this Weaver is an opportunist! This young building contractor started his nest with one floppy piece of reed taken from the lakeshore behind the house. I watched him for 20 minutes try to hang this first piece of his house. He was very patient and persistent. The reed would flop around, fall on the ground, and not stay where he wanted it. But he kept at it. He kept working. And he never gave up. Soon he had several pieces tied together and in place.
The guys across the street, Jan, told me that after the male Weaver is finished with his hanging castle, he presents the masterpiece to his potential bride. If she doesn’t like it, he tears it down and starts over!
Thursday, September 12, 2019
Made a nice connection with the Principal and Academic Dean at South African Theological Seminary – Kevin Smith and Johannes Malherbe. Kevin responded immediately to my email and we’re setting up a time to meet next week. I’m hoping this connects us with a person to assist with accreditation!!
David finished his first two rounds in the Uganda Pro Open. He will not be making the cut…..by a long shot. He opened up with a first round 82, and followed a second round 82! Yes, that’s 20 over!! But he did manage to beat several pro players and had a nice experience….getting his booty kicked! Ha Ha.
Friday, September 13, 2019
Met with Nel Scheepers today. He is a print design guy who attends Antioch Bible Church. His wife is Rosa (but prounced Risa). They have 5 kids and do homeschooling. They also have a 10 year old girl named Leviah. Perhaps this will be Esther’s first friend!! Nel is helping me take all the Genesis print material and make it relevant for a South African audience. We changed all the US contact details with our RSA addresses and phone numbers. Nel wouldn’t let me pay him, but we agreed I would take him golfing!
Also spoke Glynis Carroll of Relocation Online. She helped Ken Manuel with his citizenship. She said her company can assist us with our Volunteer Visa process! Glynis is having Letisha Rademan from her office in Joburg follow up. I am very excited about this possibility. However, we need to have Public Benefit Organization (PBO) clearance before we can apply for the visa here in SA.
Leon is flying up from Cape Town next Tuesday to help us sign documents to get our PBO clearance. We also need to finish our SARS application, open a bank account, and apply for traffic registration (in order to purchase a vehicle).
Weaver update – the nest is taking shape. I’ve named the bird Jared (after Jared Weaver a former LA Angels pitcher with long hair). Jared works relentlessly! He’s all about making this nest. I wonder what his future bride thinks of the new digs?
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Got up this morning with a thankful heart! We’ve been here for two weeks! And the Lord is opening doors. Also grateful for folks back home – Bob & Amy for helping to upgrade (and pay) for the Genesis website, Howard Curtis for encouraging texts, the Thomas family for taking care of Charlotte.
Today we’re hosting our first meal in South Africa. Marion is organizing a bbq! Here in SA it’s called a braai. We are making chicken & vegi kebabs and boerwors. Invited are the Bowie’s (SA folks who taught at ABC academy), Gail Goncalves and her mom who live here in Pecanwood, Evan Cantrell, Tim & Michelle’s son, and the Spencer crew – Steve, Marion, Stevo, Esther and grandma Cooley!
Weaver update – Jared is hard at work! This guy has serious grit!!
Monday, September 16, 2019
Today I phoned the office of the CEO of SAQA, Mr. Joe Samuels. Marion and I, Tim and Chris Sambo, met Joe two years ago. We met in his office to discuss the possibility of opening a Christian liberal arts university in the country. We also wanted to know if the government would approve a Christian private institution. We made it known that Genesis would be exclusively for Christian students, lecturers and leading towards kids who would graduate with a biblical worldview. Joe Samuels gave us the green light.
Over the last few years, we have kept in touch with his office. Asking questions and receiving council. Our correspondence ended in August 2018 when we went to the States to start Genesis. The last person I communicated with was Eddie Brown, a person in the accreditation and registration office who was extremely nice and helpful.
I spoke with Mr. Samuel’s executive assistant, Ane Du Plessis. She informed me that Mr. Samuels couldn’t meet until mid October and gave me several names of people within the department to speak to. I looked online and found the person who looked like they would help….Mr. Japie Nel, Deputy Director of Accreditation/Registration. I phoned Japie’s office and got a voice mail. He had a thick Afrikaans accent, so I called Leon (in Cape Town) and ask him to get a hold of Japie (and speak a little Afrikaans). Leon called and we scheduled an appointment for Wednesday!!! Praise the Lord!!
Leon is flying up Tuesday from Cape Town, spending the night and we are going to tackle several important items – bank account, traffic registration, Middel & Associates (signing PBO documents) and meeting with Ken over at UNISA.
Weaver update – Jared has a girlfriend! Mrs. Weaver has been hanging around. I wonder if she’s inspecting her new home. I hope she likes it. She’s a cute little brown weaver. Of course, the male birds are very attractive with all the bright colors.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Marion and I stopped for lunch at a cool restaurant called Culinary Table near the Lanseria airport before we picked up Leon. Then the three of us went to First National Bank (FNB) of South Africa. Because Marion and I aren’t visa holders we need Leon to open a bank account and apply for traffic registration (in order to purchase a vehicle). Another historic landmark…Genesis University has a bank account! I only had R600 ($40) in my pocket so this was our first deposit. I remember when Bob Wilkinson wrote a check for $1000 to Cass Bank for our first deposit for Genesis USA!!!
After FNB we went to an appointment with Middel & Associates to sign non-profit documents! While we were at Middel we found out that we were approved by the Department of Social Development!! Another landmark (rockpile). This is a key development in the quest for our Volunteer Visa!
While we were gone today a troop of monkey’s came through the backyard. Grandma Cooley was sitting on the porch reading her book when they arrived. According to grandma the leader of the pack was very vicious. I guess they don’t have monkey’s in Apple Valley. Grandma asked Leon what you call a group of monkeys. Leon said, “politicians!”
Weaver update – Nooooooooooooo! Jared has been rejected! The nest is down! Mrs. Weaver is a home wrecker! What did I learn from the Weaver? And how does this relate to Genesis? Well, first all things start with something small. The weaver started with one small strand of reed. We are here trying to get accreditation and registration. It’s a slow, one step at a time, process. Second, the weaver had grit! He had patience, persistence and perseverance! I need this each day!! Africa is not for the faint of heart! Third, build well! Not to impress people, but to give God the glory!! Fourth, be ready for rejection! Doing anything for the Lord is going to open the door for criticism. Fifth, God is in control so don’t worry! The weaver reminds me of Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Yes, God is in control and I am valuable in His sight! I need to keep my eyes on Him!!
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Before our meeting with the Mr. Japie Nel of SAQA, Leon and I went to the DMV to inquire about Leon representing Genesis in regards to traffic registration. In South Africa (and Malawi), all drivers must have a drivers license and a traffic registration card. Again, I can’t do this because I don’t have a long-term visa. So we gathered all the paper work, which includes filling out forms, proof of residency, proof of identification, a letter on Genesis letterhead giving Leon permission to act as representative and our letter of incorporation. And all of these documents must be taken to the police station in order to be notarized (certified). Sounds worse than a root canal!!
The meeting today with Japie Nell was an epic landmark / rockpile event! This was something I had been praying about for over two years! All glory goes to God. Here’s the story as I wrote it to our board members in the US..….
Hello Genesis Team,
Good morning from Hartbeespoort, South Africa. The sun is still trying to come up this morning. I think he’s a little sleepy, or else I got up earlier than normal. I’m headed to town for breakfast with one our SA board members and a graphic design guy who is helping us change our print material for a South African audience. Then off to the police station to get some documents notarized (yes they do that at the police station!). And then to the DMV to register with road traffic so we can purchase a vehicle.
I wanted to share with you some wonderful news! Our biggest goal for this trip was to begin the process of accreditation for our first degrees. I phoned up the office of the CEO of the largest branch of the Ministry of Education (SAQA) to book an appointment. The secretary, a woman named Ane, said the CEO couldn’t see me until mid October. But she gave me the names and phone numbers of some other people I could start with. I looked online to investigate several of the folks within this particular department and noticed a guy named Jacob Nel. The secretary referred to him as Japie. I asked one of our SA board guys (who speaks Afrikaans) to call Japie and see if we could book an appointment. Leon called Japie and we got an instant appointment!
To prepare for our meeting I went through 2 years of emails with the SAQA office. Our correspondence ended in August 2018. This was the time I was finishing my time with ABC and starting to work full time for Genesis (September 1, 2018). My last few emails came from a man named Eddie Brown. Eddie was assigned to our case because one of the persons who was assisting us fell sick. And Eddie was wonderful. He was excited about Genesis and very helpful.
This week Wednesday, Leon and I walked into the office of Japie Nel. I started off the meeting by handing Japie an agenda I had printed out, and then I jokingly asked Leon if he wanted to greet Japie in Afrikaans! He did and I sat there for 5 minutes not understanding but a couple of words! As we went through our agenda it was obvious Japie was the right person to speak with. And he was very interested in the project. Finally, I got to our last point which was, “Who is Eddie Brown?” When I asked this question Japie got a very surprised look on his face, jumped up from the table and said, “Don’t move!” Leon and I kind of glanced at each other not knowing what to think. Then Japie came back in with another older, white man and declared, “Here is Eddie Brown!” Then he proceeded to sing “Bad bad Leroy Brown” but said it with “Bad bad Eddie Brown!”
Eddie came into the office with a big smile and said, “Dr. Spencer I’m so glad we’re finally meeting each other!” We came to find out that Eddie had retired in August 2018 and just happened to be in the building, on the same floor and in the office next door! Eddie Brown gushed about how he was excited about Genesis and asked if he could be helping us with accreditation!!! In fact, that’s what Eddie does now that he’s retired. He assists educational institutions with registration and accreditation. Eddie also informed us that he doesn’t do this for money, but for the love of education. And he kept saying how important Genesis is for the country of South Africa!! He said, “I only work for organizations that I believe in and I really like Genesis and you guys!”
Eddie Brown is finishing up a project and will start with Genesis University on October 1.
Yes, now you can join me in saying….Praise the Lord!!!!! Isn’t this a wonderful story about the perfect timing of the Lord!!! Japie Nel kept saying to us, “I can’t believe how fortunate that you came right now at the same time Eddie was here!” And I said, “It’s not fortune, but providence!!!”
This week was a epic rockpile (Joshua 4:19-24) for Genesis University. I will remember this story for as long as I live! When we are having the first Genesis University graduation I will tell the students the story of Eddie Brown!
Thanks for being a part of this journey. Believe it or not, you are all here with us!! Thank you!!
Steve and Marion
Friday, September 20, 2019
Today I met a couple of guys (Joel and Nel)for breakfast at Mugg & Bean. Nel, the graphic design guy, is finalizing our print material for the printer. Hopefully I’ll have some local business cards soon!!
My goal for today was to take traffic registration papers to police station for notary and then back to the DMV for approval. Joel asked if I wanted him to go. I did want him to come hold my hand, but I also wanted to go by myself and figure it out….just like the early days of Malawi.
When I arrived at the police station there was a line of 15 people waiting for the guy with the stamp machine! When the guy arrived he said, “I don’t have a pen, so if you have one please come forward!” Bam, my lucky day! I had a pen, moved to the front of the line and had all my docs stamped in less than 5 minutes! Praise the Lord.
Off to the DMV where a woman told me I had the wrong paperwork. I wrote Marion a text that basically said, “TIA…this is Africa!” Suddenly a man came into the office, I greeted him with eyes that said, “Hey brother help out another caveman!” Which he did, sent me to another room, and three ladies later I had the document in hand. I took a picture of it and sent it to Marion, Leon and Matt Floreen. Matt had done this process about three months ago. He texted me back, “You got it in one day! The Lord has certainly eased the way for you! Can’t wait to see you new car!!” Leon wrote back, “Praise the Lord!”
Yes, another day and another reason to praise the Lord here in South Africa!!
Today, the Rugby World Cup has officially begun. Everywhere we go people are dressed in their green and gold SA Springboks rugby gear!! I’m wearing my red, white and blue USA rugby jersey that Nell got me a few years ago!!! Go USA!!!
Saturday, September 21, 2019
Praise Jesus for Waze! Waze is an app for driving directions. Without Waze I would be totally and completely and hopelessly lost in Johannesburg. Wazetells me the best/fastest routes, where the police are hiding, broken down vehicles and even to avoid potholes….and in this country there are some serious potholes!!
The longer I’m here, and the more I’m getting used to finding my way around, I’ll ask Marion to turn off Waze. The other night it bit me in the booty as I was lost for about 30 minutes and late to a friends house for dinner. But yesterday we decided to explore our surroundings and we did so without Waze. After South Africa lost to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup, we all got in the car and drove around Hartbeespoort Dam, checked out some local shops, drank coffee and did some grocery shopping. Basically we just hung out together, no schedules, no Waze, and no worries. Came home and everyone pitched in to make spaghetti, salad and fresh bread for dinner! Then we stayed up and watched the Cardinals beat the Cubs on back to back jacks by Molina and Dejong in the 9th inning. A perfect ending to a perfect day!!!
Monday, September 23, 2019
Woke up today to a text from Ken Manuel that said, “Steve, please let me know what I can do for Genesis this week!” Wow, isn’t this amazing!! People are calling me up and asking what they can do for Genesis!! These are the kinds of folks I have been praying for!!
Also, woke up to the fact that our oldest child, David, turns 31 years old today! Wow, this means that I’m married to an older woman!! Ha Ha! I’m 57!! Marion and I came to Africa in our mid-twenties. God had to mentor, mold and shape me for 30 years in Malawi before sending me to South Africa. I kind of feel like Joshua, but he served under Moses in the desert for 40 years before making it to the Promised Land.
Today I met with Dr. Kevin Smith. He is the President of the South African Theological Seminary. Our mutual friend is Victor Nakah (MTW SA). My purpose of meeting Dr. Smith was two-fold. First, I wanted to introduce myself and tell him about Genesis. Second, I wanted to find out about the accreditation process and learn from his experiences.
Kevin informed me that there have been other attempts to start a Christian university. And all of them have failed. He also said people are watching the Genesis project and expecting it to fail for the same reasons…..it’s going to be difficult to get accreditation! But Dr. Smith also said he is cheering us on! I askedhim what we need to do to succeed. He said the first and foremost priority is accreditation. I asked him what is our second and third priority and he said, “Accreditation, accreditation and accreditation!” Just for the sake of argument I asked him what is the next most important thing after accreditation and he said, “Finding a permanent quality staff/professors!” He told me the government accrediting agencies will look down on part-time or adjunct faculty.
Dr. Smith said that Genesis will not have a difficult time finding students. He told me that a few years ago there were 450,000 students in the public university sector. Today there is 900,000 students being crammed into the university system with the same amount of staff and resources!
I also learned that the Council on Higher Education (CHE) requires a 19 step program for accreditation. The first nine steps are “intent” institutional profile based and the other 10 steps are specific program based. This was a huge revelation for me, especially in regards to presenting curriculum and degree programs.
Dr. Smith also showed me the main communication links towards accreditation:
This day was also a historic occasion for another reason. I had an appointment at Milpark Hospital with a woman named Carmen. Carmen is the audiologist who assisted dad (Jack Chinchen) with hearing aids when he was in hospital here in SA. Mom (Nell Chinchen) insisted I go see Carmen for hearing aids. I’ve been putting this off for years, but the time has come. All that shooting, heavy equipment and loud music has finally caught up with me. I am soon to be, the not so proud, owner of hearing aids. Hello grampadom!
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Today is our first official holiday in South Africa! The holiday is called Heritage Day. Initially the holiday was called Shaka Zulu Day. However, after years of criticism (and public protest from Bishop Desmond Tutu), the holiday was changed to represent all diverse cultural heritages in South Africa. Now most people refer to the holiday as Braai day (a braai is a South African bbq!).
The president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa said the following on Heritage Day:
South Africa belongs to all who live in it and that we should all be “united in our diversity”. “Heritage Day gives all within South Africa the opportunity to celebrate our diverse backgrounds while accepting backgrounds which are different from our own. The diversity we are gifted with gives us an opportunity to learn from each other.”
We spent the day at Robin (Associate pastor at Antioch church) & Gigi Brown’s home and enjoyed a braai of boerewors (traditional SA sausages) steak and veggies! Marion made her famous Pecan squares and brownies. We sat outside on the conde, ate, talked and played Scum (a fun card game). Also met some new friends, Steve and Tracy, and Tracy’s brother from Singapore, Jason. Jason is an architect. We talked about different structure/building for the new Genesis campus. I’m still intrigued by the student center/administration building at LeTourneau!!