Resisting the Urge to Perform African Missions

There is a common phrase among certain activist circles that says, “If you really want to discover who a person is, send them to Africa.”

There’s something about coming to Africa that draws out either the very best or worst in a person – or at the least – their truer motives where missions are concerned.

There are a quite a number of foreign missionaries living in this small municipality of 49,000 coming from afar afield as Germany, Austria and America. There are also native South Africans from bid cities like Jo’burg and Cape Town who have settled here in Plett and its environs who function as ministers in various capacities. After Michael and Nicole (temporarily) left the city, we replaced them as the ‘only’ African Americans in town. (I put ‘only’ in quotes, because there’s one other African American gent named Virgil who lives here as well, but he’s been such a permanent fixture for so long that he’s been adopted as a local.)

We haven’t had much opportunity to spend a lot of time with our European counterparts, as frankly, schedules and personalities don’t always align. We’ve spent a lot more time fellowshipping with the other Americans in the area: a family of four and two interns who moved here from Virginia and Tennessee. We spent the 4th of July and Thanksgiving together, as well as some random beach days. As fate would have it, one of the young ladies needed a space to rent and lived with us for 6 months until she found something more permanent. It was in that time that I got to observe her heart for missions and was incredibly touched by what I witnessed.

Let’s be honest: A lot of people – not just Americans – come to Africa motivated by pity. They look at this massive Dark Continent, populated by war lords, starving children and entrepreneurial women who make ends meet against all odds. Spurned by a savior mentality, they hop on the fastest thing smoking with delusions of grandeur. Why, in just two weeks spent as a volunteer shelling out porridge at XYZ shelter, you can transform a whole community! Your American/British/Australian presence alone will make a difference in the life of a man/woman/child enamored by your white skin – or in my case – a cool American accent. Oh…and you’re bringing Jesus to boot!

It’s the big sell. This is the narrative that gets offering plates returned to the back counting office with a little more heft than they would on a typical Sunday morning. The romantic idea that a young man/woman, armed with nothing more than their guitar and a song in their heart can run over to Africa and win it for Christ is a very comforting one. But the reality is much messier. It takes years to make an impact, and a lot of us foreigners don’t have the stamina to see the course to the end. So we fake impact. We fake it by posting pictures of ourselves surrounded by grinning brown children, swathed in dingy brown clothing on Instagram. We fake it when we return to the States with testimonies that exaggerate events in order to elicit an “ooohhh” response from the congregation, further adding to Africa’s alluring mystique and making the returning missionary seem more heroic than he/she truly deserves.


The reality is that as I am typing this, I am seated in a quaint café, surrounded by the scents of scones, freshly squeezed ginger and hot apple pie. When I return to my car, I will be greeted by a gust of ocean breeze. The reality is, there is very little that the American missionary is doing in Africa that they cannot do in Flint, MI or Ringgold, GA. If you want to make a real impact, take a quick 3-hour drive to Ringgold or Dalton and preach a message of racial reconciliation. Or shoot, stand up to your own racist/misogynist/whatever family and challenge their views at the next gathering. I promise the impact will have an immediate ripple effect. Most of us are too scared to rock that particular boat because the consequences are impacting on a deeper and more personal level. A prophet may not have honor in his own town, but s/he owes it to the town to try to bring the word anyway.

But I digress: Back to this live-in intern, whom we will refer to as Amber* for the duration of this post.

Amber is a white woman in her 20s who has faced a dilemma over how she should present her work in this mission field. As I mentioned before, I am impressed with the integrity she has demonstrated in the process. Like we do, she keeps up a social media presence to let her home church know what she’s been up to over the course of the last two years. In that time, she admitted that it’s been hard to post pictures because, “everything is so beautiful here.” It doesn’t look like true African missions.

“And plus, everyone I work with is so…white,” she admitted. She jokingly added that while she does not post pictures because of the whiteness of it all, she has refused to embellish events or go into the townships and pose with little Black kids, even though she is aware that doing so would likely come with a greater monetary reward at the end.

Barbie Savior. Source: Instagram

Her apprehension to post pictures of herself in a beach resort town on hikes in verdant mountains with white kids is understandable. That’s not what African missions looks like. To the average believer, that looks like a two-year getaway in paradise. And yet, this is where the Lord has placed her because that’s exactly what’s needed. Her non-judgmental compassion is needed at the pregnancy crisis center where she works twice a week. Her big sister presence in necessary for little girls who need someone they can relate to. Her athleticism lends itself to youth program in a town where the average church attendee is well over 40. (Or still in pull-ups.) And like her, most everyone she ministers to is white. It’s all still “African missions” because like God’s kingdom as a whole, Africa herself is incredibly diverse.

Nevertheless, this concept of performance – and the need to resist it – is something I admit I struggle with as well. Last night we spent 4 hours fellowshipping with an Afrikaaner woman – a single mother of four – who was really going through it. You name it, she’s enduring it: from a broken marriage, to her name being trashed in town as a whore, to facing eviction in a few weeks. Marshall, another couple and I sat and listened to her pour out her heart. She was very frank about how shattered she was feeling, often fighting back tears as she spoke. By the time we finished conversing with and praying for her, she admitted she was feeling a lot better. That night, she left a message with the couple who had accompanied us, telling them how much she appreciated our presence and how she felt like she had found a sister in me. In ME.

Meanwhile, all the while, I couldn’t shake how bizarre the whole scene would have looked if it were a LionsGate film. Here were four people of color here to “save” a white woman in Africa…a woman dealing with all the issues that are typically synonymous with Black womanhood. At least as pop culture is concerned. I felt it bizarre that I was being used in that environment, but we serve a totally bizarre God who does things that defy our reason. I’ve talked a lot about how other people view and perform African missions, but in truth I’m grateful for His shaking up my own prejudices as well.



I Suppose We Owe Everyone An Explanation For the Extended Silence…

Greetings, 34 DGZ Family!

I trust and pray you have been well. I know we have not given an update in quite some time, and that is because the site admin (moi, Malaka) has been out of commission for some time. For those of you who are moms on here, you know how it is. Even though everyone in the family thinks it’s a marvelous idea to get that dog/take that vacation/start that family blog, yours becomes the sole responsibility for making it all a reality and breathing life into it on a continual basis.

If you are a reader of my personal blog – Mind of Malaka – you may know that I discovered in early February that I had a meningioma. It was a non-cancerous brain tumor that had grown to the approximate size of a golf ball. One doctor estimated that it had been growing undetected over the course of 10 years. Evidently, meningiomas are fairly common and doctors perform hundreds of operations every year to remove them. That’s a pretty scary thought, actually….

This is not my brain. Image source:

It was a trying time for the family, naturally. The kids didn’t understand why I was so lethargic all the time and I didn’t understand why I was less able to tolerate their noise levels. The constant headache was a monster to deal with. And while it was a relied to discover the cause of my anguish, the diagnosis was incredibly frightening. You hear the words “brain” and “tumor” and confidence (or in our case, faith) shrinks considerably. It’s sad to admit, but it’s the truth. As Christians, I believe we like to think of ourselves as spiritual leviathans, and oftentimes it’s easier to have faith for someone else in the midst of their trial than it is for yourself. When someone else is being challenged with health or finances, we can smile and offer platitudes in ready abundance. The flow of blessed assurance is not so steady when you’re forced to turn it inwards. Or at least that was true in the Grant family’s case.

Marshall and I were apprehensive about telling the kids the gory details about my diagnosis and the procedure to follow, but the kids were fine. Better than fine, in fact. After describing how the doctor would have to slice open my head and remove the tumor, they made sure to pray for me every time we spoke on the phone. (I left South Africa alone in order to go and get treatment.) Then they had their friends at school pray for me as well and waited impatiently for me to return home. My husband, Mr. Cool Water Pastor Grant, didn’t handle it quite as well. LOL! His faith was in a different direction. His expectation was that based on his prayer and hope – frankly – that I would go for my scheduled MRI and that the tumor would be miraculously removed. That turned out not to be the case, to his admitted disappointment.

That’s what I meant when I said faith was a challenge for us in our house over the previous 2+ months. In our ministry, it seems we are always looking for the Big Win. We expect the supernatural to work in our lives because we serve the God and Creator of the known and unknown universe. But as far as I was (and still am) concerned, those sorts of miracles are not for Believers. We have the word of God and the Holy Spirit, and that ought to be enough. Personally, I have always been wary of harboring after the Big Spiritual Win because of what I read in Matthew many years ago.

Matthew 12:38-40 says:

38 One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”

39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

Do I think it’s perverse to look for a miracle? No. But I don’t think that my walk as a believer should hinge so heavily on it, to the point that if it does not come to pass exactly as we imagine it that it becomes a hindrance to your faith. My prayer was that the doctor would do his job and that he would prove himself worthy of all the glowing reviews he’d racked up on Google.

At the end of the day, both the surgeon and the master architect who designed my brain set everything to right. And now I a fantastic testimony to share. The best part about it is that it’s not my testimony alone. So many people globally were praying for me and by virtue of the fruit of their lips, I am walking and still in my ‘right-ish’ mind.

Now that I’m on the mend and re-united with the family, we can get back to sharing with you all the awesome work that’s being done in the ministry, as well as the quirky aspects of living in Plett. There’s a lot that has happened since February and I hope I can catch you all up!

Thanks for hanging in there with us as we serve the Lord to the best of our abilities in this grand experiment. We love you!

Confronting the Horrible Reality That You’ve Raised a Thief

I know this title is dramatic, but it’s a raw representation of my feelings right now. Maybe I’ll revise it in a few days when I’m feeling wittier.


 * Ring-ring! *


“Hello, Mrs. Grant? This is the manager at PnP. I’m so sorry to tell you this. I know what a close-knit family you are and how much you and your husband value and love your children. I can see it in how you interact with them. I’m sorry to tell you this…and I think it will be a valuable lesson for your daughter. I think she was just so worried about disappointing you guys that she couldn’t bear to tell you the truth…”

What was this man going on about? Why wasn’t he just telling me that my daughter was innocent of the crime for which she’d been accused? What was this long introductory speech about the obvious love I had for my kids?

“Mrs. Grant? Are you there?”

“Yes, I am,” I said stoically. “I’m just listening.”

“Well, I’ve reviewed the footage as you requested, and I’m sorry to tell you this, but your daughter DID in fact steal the chocolate. I’m so sorry. You can review that footage any time you like… IF you want to…”

“What time do you close today?” I asked.


It was not 2:34pm. “I’ll be there in 30 minutes, if not fewer. Thank you.”

* Click *

Marshall and I called the child in question – the very same child who had sworn that the chocolate in her waistband had been given to her by a friend the day before and tearfully defended herself against the egregious crime levied against her – and asked her ONCE AGAIN if she had stolen the item.

Marshall was direct with his questioning. “The manager says he has you on video stealing. Did you?”

“Just tell the truth,” I encouraged.

I was confident that she would stick to the original story – the obvious truth. That the chocolate was a gift, and the manager and his security guards were liars who could go to hell, and we could ALL race down there right then and there to view the footage which would surely vindicate her. Instead, what I heard from the other side of the room was a tearful, “Yes. I stole it…!!!”

The admission was mortifying for several reasons, the clear one being that my daughter was a (reluctant) admitted thief. What was not apparent was how I was feeling at the moment, having all but blasted the PnP manager ( a white male) and his guard (a black male) for being racists who pick on little Black girls at the grocery store for having the gall to meander down the aisles in possession of items that they happened to be selling at that particular store. While she stood next to me sobbing – I assumed in the aguish of being falsely accused – I demanded that the footage be reviewed and if it was NOT seen that she had taken something from the shelf and had indeed first removed it from her waistband as she asserted, then both the manager AND the guard owed this child an apology!

Oh, I was in rare form. And if this child had been innocent, you would be cheering me on for my assertive Mama Bear stance! Instead, she was in fact guilty as the raccoon is of rifling through one’s garbage and it was my turn to go to the store and render the same apology I demanded not an hour before.

I could not fathom that my daughter could be a thief. My children have not suffered a downgrade in living in moving to South Africa. Like most houses in this part of the country, they have access to a pool on the property where we live. Their school is situated just a few hundred yards away from the beach. Just two weeks ago, I treated each of my kids to FitBits so that they could track the number of steps they could take; not for fitness’ sake, but for the sake of fun. And at least once a week, I bake them sweet treats. So no, my children are not starving or suffering for Christ’s sake. How then could I imagine or accept that one of them could be a thief, especially this particular child who understands consequences well enough?

Part of my denial was due to ego. I didn’t want to believe that I could raise someone capable of theft. We are a family that instills “good values” in our children.

When I worked in retail, Black people were always subject to suspicion, depending on who the manager on duty was for the day. If a group of white people walked in, and a group of Black people walked in right behind them, two managers in particular would put us on high alert. They called it “hawking” and they would always send one of the Black employees to that area of the store to make sure “everything was alright with that group of customers.”

And we would.

And we would be sent back again, and again, and AGAIN to check on the Black folk. And yeah, a couple of times, Black people would steal stuff; but for the most part, it was the elderly white women who wanted a new pair of Grasshoppers or a Tahari umbrella who were responsible for shrink. You know…the women we rarely bothered – or more importantly – believed when they said they said they were “just in the store to browse.” Naturally, I bristled when my very privileged, very articulate, very brown and very noble child who had just come from church had been accused of stealing chocolate from a grocery store. I recalled bits of the conversation I’d had with the manager at the store a little earlier.

“Now, ma’am, I understand you are upset about the situation…”

“Oh, I’m not upset,” I said, eyes flashing, “I’m FURIOUS.”

Why furious? Because I was sick of people stereotyping Black kids as thieves and treating them poorly in advance for it.

Amid all these thoughts, I heard the child blubbering silliness.

“…I’m so sorry!!! You can beat me, you can take my computer…I’m so sorry!”

“Oh keep quiet,” I snapped. “We don’t need your permission to punish you. We are your parents!”

Marshall was more measured (as usual). His voice barely rose an octave.

“So you mean to tell me, you made me a LIAR down there at the grocery store? I defended you against that man! And then you had your mother go down there and fuss at those people?”


“You could’ve stopped this at any time,” I bellowed. “You could’ve said: Mommy/Daddy, I’m sorry to have disappointed you, but I did take the candy. You had a chance to tell the truth at the store when the guard confronted you. You had a chance on the way home. You had a chance when I hopped up off the floor in a rage, and you certainly had a chance on our way BACK to the store!”

So basically, if I hadn’t demanded video proof that my daughter was NOT a thief, she would have gone on living the life of an un-confessed, unrepentant one. How can you repent for something for which you have not confessed?

The fact is, she was probably caught because she was a kid in the candy aisle and therefore already suspicious. Even before we knew of her guilt, Marshall and I were compelled to give all the kids the talk about Black bodies in retail spaces.

“You have to conduct yourself as though you are above reproach,” he said. “You can’t act in a way that would give anyone reason to suspect you of wrongdoing. You have to be aware of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.”

That the child is a confirmed thief does not change any of that advice.


I shared the story on Facebook, where my friend Kelly said that she had been accused of stealing chocolate when she was 15.

“Nothing came of it though. All the footage showed was that I was lingering in the lane too long.”

Privately, she shared that her son had stolen something from the store once, and her husband cried like a baby when he admitted it. (I share this story with her permission.)


So how did the Grant family resolve this? First and foremost, we parents and the child in question went down to the store to render an unqualified apology. Then we made the child pay for the item she had damaged by putting in her waistband with her own money. This was to provide recompense for the attempted stolen goods and to remind her that she does have the funds to buy anything she wants, particularly if it’s something as trivial as candy! Then we came home and ordered her to do the thing she hates most in the world: dishes.

Let me tell you how much she is averse to doing dishes: Last night, she wanted ice cream and made the appropriate request.

“You can have some as long as you wash your own bowl,” replied her father.

This kid walked away. Wouldn’t even wash her own BOWL to be treated to ice cream. When I was growing up, I did dishes because they were dirty, not because I wanted something to eat! These are the markers of a privileged child.

A huge part of me is disappointed because my daughter stole something. A greater part of me is that she is now walking “evidence” of a stereotype that white people have created about my race: that we’re lazy kleptomaniacs who live off the government dime and don’t want to work for anything. Most Black people – like most people – are not thieves. However ours is the burden of proving our innocence in the wake of imagined, pervasive guilt.

It was hard for me to write this piece. You guys have no idea how hard. But I felt it necessary to. If it had turned out that my daughter was indeed innocent of this accusation, I would’ve had the store phone number, address and meter number all over my social media pages. I would’ve put them on absolute BLAST. This time, my family was wrong, and so it is only right that we go on blast as well.

The PnP store manager offered far more grace, however.

“You know – I’m a parent, and my heart went out to you guys as I reviewed the footage. I probably would’ve reacted the same way you did if I’d been in your shoes. When I was seven, I stole a chocolate bar…but the difference is I ate it in the store. I didn’t get ‘caught’. But when I got home, I felt so guilty. The Holy Spirit really convicted me and I never stole anything again.”

Then he shook each of our hands, gave said child a hug and told her all was forgiven.


Praise God for the Holy Spirit.

I’m Finally Getting Used to South African Women Kissing Me in My Mouth

When you move to a new country, one of the first pieces of pragmatic advice you are given is to be open.

“Be open to the culture.” “Be open to having new experiences.” “Be open to trying different modes of dress.” “So what if the pizza crust is super thin and you like double-stuffed with cheese? Be OPEN!”

These are the reasons why the Travel Channel and similar platforms are such a big hit, right? We viewers get to sit in front of our television sets and imagine that we are participating in the same or similar levels of cultural immersion as the host. We grimace along with Andrew Zimmern as he takes those first furtive bites of caramel covered cockroach and hold our breaths as Dhani takes on the world in one daring feat after another. From the comfort of our sofas and bedsprings, we get to embody the experiences of our television guide. Raise your hand if you’ve ever watched a host canoeing down a winding river, casually pointing out the wonder all around him/her and thought to yourself, “What an easy job. I can do that!” Because you’re “open”, right? Only OPEN people can travel the world and truly appreciate its splendor.

Humph. Come back and tell us all about how ‘accessible’ your heart is when you run into a custom that honest-to-God-hand-to-heard leaves you frozen in your tracks. In this case, I’m talking about something as common – yet controversial – as a kiss.

Kissing is a huge deal. Kissing has implications. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Seal was assaulted by rose kisses and wrote Top 40 song about the occurrence. Your momma probably told you that kissing boys will get you pregnant. (You went ahead and did it anyway, didn’t you? Fast tail…)

In many cultures, Kissing is also a normal way to show affection. However, as customs have evolved (as has our understanding of germ and disease transmission), so has the act of kissing. Contact kisses are now reserved for people with whom we are in physical relationships, or Grandma. Everyone else gets a kiss simulation. We blow each other a kiss goodbye and greet each other with air kisses on either cheek, replete with those ridiculous smooching sounds. Whereas documented as very common a century and more ago, no one in modern society participates in a flesh-to-flesh kissing anymore. Our homophobia is so entrenched that any physical contact with the same sex is unconsciously screened through that lens and ends up dictating our behavior.

Let this picture mess with your mind for a minute.

For example, 60 years ago, it was not uncommon for two African men to walk hand-in-hand as an expression of friendship and a testament to their strong bonds of brotherly affection. Today, two Black men strolling through the city with hands clasped would be publicly denounced as a gay (and therefore, lewd) act and depending on what part of the world they may find themselves in, be assaulted (or jailed) for allegedly participating in a same-sex relationship. We now touch each other so little as friends that many of our physical interactions are interpreted through the lens of sex and sexuality, rather than genuine fondness or affection.

And that’s why when the clerk at the mall in George tried to kiss me in the mouth, I freaked out and nearly bolted out of her embrace.

She was a woman I’d met 3 years ago when we spent two weeks of our summer vacation in South Africa. Marshall and I visited a leather goods store and she was one of the women who attended to us. We developed a fast rapport, found each other on Facebook and have maintained an e-friendship since. When she learned we were coming back to South Africa, she insisted that we come visit her in the shop, which I was more than happy to do. On the appointed day I walked into her store, all smiles. I’m not squeamish about physical contact, so I threw open my arms for a big hug, which she walked into willingly.

And then, that’s when it happened.

She turned her face towards mine, puckered up and kissed me close to my lips. “Close to” because I computed that the angle she was coming in from would put her mouth directly over mine and reacted by tilting my face slightly to the left.

She seemed hurt, and I appeared clearly bewildered.

So many thoughts raced through my head. Was she gay? Did she think I was gay? Did she misinterpret something on my Facebook page as an invitation to a sexual relationship? Had I led her on in some weird way? Was she going to try to take me from my husband???

My internal inquisition eventually stopped because she had begun to ask Marshall and I about how America, the kids and how long we were in the country for. We chatted for a bit until her store began to fill up with customers needing her attention.

“See you on Facebook, Malaka!” she called.

“Okay!” I responded, my voice an octave higher than it ought to have been. I was still a bit shaken.

The experience adhered so strongly to my psyche that I was compelled to begin to observe women in my new community. What I discovered shocked me. South African women – at least those in this part of the country – routinely kiss each other in the mouth. They kiss each other before they will hug one other. I’ve chiefly seen this among Black and Colored women. White women usually kiss each other the European way, with cheek-to-cheek contact and faux kissy noises. Women of color go straight for the pie hole. I breathed a sigh of relief. My girl wasn’t trying to get into my panties. She was just saying that she considered me a sister and she missed me.


The next time I saw her, I was ready. As we prepared to part each other’s presence, I opened myself wide for her hug and puckered up. We met each other’s lips head on briefly and then broke contact. She smiled and I smiled back.

“Don’t you want to give my husband a kiss?” I asked mischievously.

She seemed scandalized by the suggestion. He just rolled his eyes.

“Hei, Malaka! No!” she gasped before descending into a brief tirade in Afrikaans. “You must kiss your OWN husband!”

I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to come back to the States and start kissing everyone in the face. It’s something I’ll have to pray on. My spirit man says not to, but that flesh wants to see how many women throw dukes up in response.


Do you consider yourself an “open” person? If so, have you ever participated in or witnessed a custom that challenged you? It’s okay, if so. We all have our limits. 😉


Your Boy Is Slaughtering a Lamb For Christmas

Y’all. Can I just give it to you real straight for a moment? Your boy, my husband, Pastor Marshall Grant Jr. has officially gone to far. He has taken the You Name it Challenge to un-required levels. Beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, RAMS, hog maws…You Naaaame It!

However, instead of a ram, he has chosen to behead and bleed an ewe for Christmas dinner. Why not a ram?

“The meat’s too tough,” he claims.

 Ahhh. I see.


Now, I understand we are in Africa and that our location can sometimes inspire a desire to live an “authentic African” life, but dag. We live in Plettenberg Bay where the grocery store is well-stocked and within walking distance if you’re looking to get your 30 minutes of activity in. There is no good reason on God’s South African earth why we need to be killing an animal in someone’s back yard.

Oh? You thought this massacre was going to take place in MY adobe? No indeed! The poor creature will meet its demise at our housekeeper’s home, who made the not so subtle suggestion last week that we go in half on a lamb.

“I want sheep for Christmas,” she said. “Don’t you want to buy half with me?”

Mr. Lamb Slain From the Foundations of the Earth eagerly agreed with the prospect, and now here we are – just 3 hours away from the appointed time of the slaughter.


Some of our provincial readers – as in y’all folks from the country – are reading this and thinking to yourself, “Well, this is no big deal. We kill animals in our back yard all the time!” You might be wondering what I’M freaking out about, me being a born and bred African myself who has surely witnessed dozens of animals destined for the butcher’s knife. And you’re right: I have.

What I wasn’t prepared for was my children’s reaction to this venture. For the most part, they reacted to the news that Daddy was setting off with uncle Dial to prepare a sheep for Christmas with curiosity. They wanted to know whether the sheep was white, what kind of sound it make, did it live on a farm… However one of my children asked me a series of questions and made a series of statements that I found difficult to grapple with, given the situation.

Sheep is like “Dawg! What up? Why alla y’all all on me?!?”

“Can I go watch them kill it?”

I hesitated before saying, “Ummm… I don’t know. It’s not a pretty sight.”

“I just want to see its guts when they cut it open.”

“You do.”

“Mmmhmmm. I think it will be cool. Miss Maynee says that she’s going to cut the head off and give it to her neighbors because they eat the head. And then she’s going to use the blood to water her plants.”

Yehowah! Why was this child repeating all these details with a smile?!? Why were they so eager to witness a mammal meet its demise in what could possibly be a gruesome affair if the blade is dull or the butcher hesitates? And why, oh why God did she have her camera with her?

Now, if you’re acquainted with my children, you probably think you know who the child with the blood lust in question is. I can assure you you’re wrong.

It’s Aya.

Sweet Aya.

Demure Aya.

Gentle Aya.

Aya that sat at the table with a broad smile about her lips and eyes that flashed in anticipation of this poor sheep’s decapitation. Nadjah, on the other hand, shed a single Denzel-esque ear as the details were made plain about how the butchery would go.

Nadjah’s face as the fate of the sheep was being described

“After the head is cut off, they’ll turn the sheep upside down to drain the rest of the blood, then take a hacksaw and cut the rib cage in two, then….”

Nadjah, the one who is built of fire and dry ice implodes. She declares the whole venture a murderous sham and has vowed to go vegan thereafter. She then haughtily walks to the fridge and prepares to make a sandwich.

“You can’t eat that,” Marshall said with a mischievous smile.

Nadjah was incredulous. “Why not??? It’s cheese!”

“Vegan means you can’t eat any animal flesh or by products. Cheese comes from milk. Milk comes from cows. Put the cheese back.”

There was some mumbling about never giving up cheese under any circumstances and a flip of her braids before she disappeared back up the stairs to her art studio.


* Three hours later *

They just walked in the house. Aya sounds jubilant. Like she just returned from a girls’ weekend at an amusement park.

“It wasn’t creepy at all! And I have pictures! Oh stop it, Nadjah. It’s just food.”

Alright then.

Let me go look at these pictures of this beheaded and skinned ruminant and pretend like it’s all good.


Merry Christmas from the Grants to you and yours!

God Is Testing My Words This Week

I want to apologize to our 34 DGZ readers if it seems like my voice is monopolizing this space. Running a family blog is a bit like getting a puppy – everyone is down for the idea and committed and excited initially, but in the end it’s mom who ends up walking, feeding and bathing the dog. The rest of the family just poses for holiday pictures with the fully-grown collie that’s “miraculously” made it this far.

As I mentioned a few days ago, we were ministering in Oudtshoorn for part of the month of October. Marshall has been teaching on a series titled “Upon this rock”, emphasizing building a foundation in Christ. My personal reflection and reading time has taken me to the book of Judges, which is a great read for when you’re between Game of Thrones seasons/episodes. Judges is where we see Jael drive a stake through Commander Sisera’s head while he was napping for reasons that are unspecified. Judges 4:3 says that Sisera had 900 chariots and ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for 25 years. It’s possible (I think) that although she came from a tribe that was supposed to be “neutral” Jael had some Israelite homies that the commander and his men had physically and sexually abused one too many times, and didn’t hesitate to pass up the opportunity to turn his brains to stew when the opportunity presented itself. (Score one against rape culture!)

Jael’s valor isn’t what’s been weighing heavily on my spirit, however. It’s Judges 2:21-23 that has set me on edge. As I’ve been praying with women at various intervals, the idea of praising through and despite the storm has been recurring. I began reflecting on what the causes of some of these trials that we are all going through, and Judges 2 gave me an angle that has unsettled and provoked me. It says:

“I will no longer drive out the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. I did this to test Israel – to see whether or not they would obey the Lord as their ancestors did. That is why the Lord did not quickly drive the nations out or allow Joshua to conquer them all.”

I shared this scripture during service in Shack Church on this Sunday, not saying this scripture justified the suffering that anyone who was enduring hardship as a result of some great, irredeemable, but to reflect on it in relation to attitude and behavior. What is your default response to your trials? In the book of Judges, God’s frustration with His people was as a result of them turning back to their sinful ways and rejecting His tenants the moment a judge or a prophet died. As long as there was a prophet who carried and spoke the Word of the Lord, the people were in compliance. The moment there was a gap, they returned to worshiping false idols. It was cyclical. Judges says He did this to test their obedience.

It seems a bit cruel for the Lord to play with His people like we were kittens and his statues were a laser that we are forever chasing after, but I truly see the importance of the exercise, even if it’s painful and frustrating for me as well. My default – or false idol, if you will – is worry. As long as everything in my life is going according to plan, I don’t worry or fret. I am confident in God. I have no doubt about His abilities to perform miracles in my life. In those instances, I can pray and admonish another woman to banish worry, doubt and fear from her life. He’s able! But a few moments after things get a really rocky, I become unsure. I go back to my default, which is anxiety. Anxiety is not of the Lord.


I’ll speak plainly and tell you what I mean. Things have been really tight for is financially these past two months because of a whole matrix of things. Our utility bill this month and last was R6000 (about $500) because this house and the appliances are terribly energy inefficient. We still are paying on our house in Atlanta which has yet to be sold, costing us another $700/month. Marshall has taken a pay cut since he left Home Depot to work for himself, and I don’t have my part time job anymore. I’m just being transparent. (Family: Please don’t call and scold us! We are not destitute and we will get through this.) Are we eating ramen and Spam every day to get by? No…but the buffer I have come to rely on is getting thinner and thinner. I should be praising in these moments – but I’m not. I’m anxious…and I feel like God is watching and waiting for me to get it. He’s testing me to see if even I believe what I say about Him. Am I going to be like Israel and go back and repeat the same mistakes that have driven me to depression in the past, or am I going to obey the Lord and trust Him as His word commands?


This is where I am this week. This experiment in South Africa – doing the work of the ministry when I am not perfect makes me feel like a fraud at times. This week is definitely one of those times. But that’s good place to be, isn’t it? None of us should ever get so confident as to believe that our lives provide the answers alone. That’s what the finished work of Jesus was for…to look to Him and His life for the answers we seek.



In the Trenches of the Prayer Line

Three weeks ago, Bishop Henry Joseph invited us to minister at Grace Church in Oudtshoorn until his return to South Africa in mid November. Marshall has been preaching during the main service for two Sundays so far, and next week will signal his final ascension to Grace’s pulpit. I missed the first service because I was in Johannesburg, but I hear he did quite well. The kids didn’t do so well that Sunday, however, so I promised them a beating buffet this week if they did anything to embarrass their father or themselves during service. You act up, you get cut up…just choose when and where, but a cut up there will be!


Marshall has been preaching foundation doctrine all around the garden route. It’s something he’s been studying for years and it’s really something to hear him talk about what makes for laying groundwork for a stable relationship in God. Grace Church is primarily a Colored church, so everyone speaks Afrikaans. I don’t know if everyone understood the minutia of his teaching, which was smattered with words in Greek, a sprinkling of biological terms and one or two references to aspects of coding, but I have faith that the gist of the message was translated. At the end of the message, Marshall made an alter call for anyone who needed prayer for sickness, infirmity, etc.


Given the poor state of healthcare in these corners of the world, calls to receive healing are a sure bet if you want to get a crowd up to the front. I’ve always wondered if an evangelist could draw such a number by asking if congregants wanted to know the deep mysteries of the Lord, for understanding about the cosmos and cellular construction and so forth.

I digress.

Prayer lines are not something I’m accustomed to participating in on the contributing side. I usually find myself among the eager masses ready to receive whatever the Spirit is dolling out that Sunday, or – most usually – observing fellow believers doing the same. However, the position of spectator is not one that I have been afforded since we moved to South Africa. I have no defined duties as Pastor Marshall Grant’s wife, other than to come when bidden. However seeing the line of people who’d assembled at the front, I put on my prayer work boots to attend to the needs of those with supplications. Having also been a long time spectator, I know that a lot of believers want the Man/Woman Behind the Pulpit specifically to pray with/for them, because that’s the person with the “juice” in the thinking of most Christians. All that is to say that I was prepared to be rejected, which prompted me to ask: “Can I agree with you in prayer?” before shouting in perfect strangers’ faces. (I didn’t eat Haloumi cheese this time, Sandy!) I prayed with three women before the fourth did just that.

“I want pastor to pray with me,” she said with a dismissive smile.

No worries at all. The line was much shorter by this time, so I went back to my seat to sway with the choir. Then I looked up and saw Marshall waving me over intensely.

I’ve told you before that my husband likes to summon me to pray for circumstances I can identify with on a personal level.

“Malaka! You had a headache this week…come pray for this Mama with a headache!”

“Malaka…you know what it’s like to experience depression. Come pray for this sister!”

I strode over to the woman his was standing with, a gorgeous, slender sweet woman who looked to be in her 20s who was sobbing heavily.

“She was raped,” he whispered. “Can you pray with her?”

It’s hard to explain what I felt in those brief moments following his gentle request. Fury, sadness, melancholy…righteous anger. Not for myself, but for this woman who was standing before us both dealing with so much pain.

It’s something I’ve written and spoken about openly when the need has arisen, but I was sexually assaulted during my sophomore year of college. I didn’t speak about it for many years, because when I confided in one friend I felt I could trust with my anguish, he sneered and said, “How could it have been rape if you didn’t scream and fight back.” That I was scared, young and too paralyzed by fear to do anything – and I do mean anything at all – was proof, in his mind at least, that I was mistaken, or talking nonsense, but certainly not raped. After that, I dealt with my pain silently, and it took time and the power of the Lord to set me free.

I don’t know under what circumstances her attack happened, but I connected immediately to what this young woman was going through. I could feel her tethers, I could sense the bondage she was experiencing, and in the way her shoulders were hunched I could see the shame she still felt. But above all else, unforgiveness was reverberating from her very body. I prayed in the only way that I could: I asked that God would do for her what He had done for me. I asked that He would take away the guilt, the sadness, the despair and to restore healing and wholeness in its place. We wept together as we called on the Lord and cursed the work of the devil.

The reality is there’s no point in asking the Lord to take away the memory of something as traumatic as rape, especially in a case like this precious sister’s. Being sexually leaves a permanent mark on you. It robs you of a part of yourself that you can never really get back. An aspect of your personhood is amputated in an unseen way. If you cut a person’s hand and you can visibly see how they are forever altered. When a person is sexually assaulted, those scars are not visible to the naked eye. This woman had asked my husband to pray for her because the agony associated with the rape she experienced was putting stress on her liver and other organs…and then she introduced us to the daughter who was the product of her assault: A beautiful little girl of about 6 that she hugged tightly, proudly and ruefully all at once. Even before I knew she had borne a child of rape, I knew that the best God could do would be to remove the pain connected with the event – that when it came to mind it did not cripple her with emotions that there are no words for as it had done to me. And honestly, that’s enough. Because the grim reality is that one day, this woman and/or her daughter will encounter another woman who will need their compassionate prayers for this very same reason: to confront the legacy of rape that is so prevalent in our culture.


So We Were Robbed….

I wish there was some sort of cutesy title I could ascribe to what happened to us, however wit has escaped me at the present. Blunt truth will have to suffice.


Marshall giving his statement to our local heroes.

On Friday morning, Marshall woke earlier than usual to prepare for a 2-hour drive to Oudtshoorn in order to pick up Bishop and Mrs. Hunt. (For our readers who are not familiar with them, they are our pastoral leadership at The Father’s House in Atlanta.) We normally start our day at 6:30 am, with mad dashes about the house in search of socks, bread and combs, but it was the last day of school before Spring Break, so I have every intention of pursuing a leisurely morning.

Perhaps the kids would be late for school. Perhaps they wouldn’t go at all. After all, this school day was scheduled to end at TEN THIRTY IN THE MORNING, leaving the potential for truancy wide open. I closed my eyes and resettled into the blankets to contemplate how the day might unfold. That’s when I heard my husband shouting from that bathroom.

“Liya! Liiiyaaaa!!!”

“Marshall!” I said sharply. “Why are you shouting that baby’s name? She’s asleep!”

Marshall emerged from the bathroom, taking angry, purposeful strides.

“Someone just broke into our house,” he muttered.

I sprang out of bed and searched for something to throw on, grunting an incredulous, “What?!” Then it registered that I had mistaken “Hey you!” for “Liya!”

Marshall pressed the alarm and sprinted towards front door to do man of the house things. I was about to follow him but froze. What if the intruder had a gun?

The thought of some fiyanga boy shooting my husband was terrifying. I ran out towards the front door to catch a bullet for my man if it came to that.

Fortunately, it did not come to that. They guy was long gone, but the evidence of his prowling was everywhere. Literally.

Really? You just gonna steal my Hefty bag and leave it on top of my gate to come back for later??

There were clothes strewn all over the yard, a trash bag full of our laundry and shoes sat on top of the gate, waiting for collection, and the laundry room itself looked like it had picked clean of the most interesting items: dish towels, two of my totes that were once used as either diaper or gym bags and various items of kids’ clothing.

 Marshall opened the gate and got into the car.

“Where are you going?” I asked in a panic.

“To find him.”

Then he sped off, leaving his cell phone and a confused wife behind. It had been 10 minutes since we first pressed the alarm, and still SMHART had neither shown up nor called to see if it was a false alarm. I pressed the alarm for the third time and called the company.

“Good morning!” I said cheerily. “We were just broken into. Are you guys gonna come over?”

The dispatch agent told me that they had a guard on the way. I grunted and hung up. By this time, Marshall had swung back around, having searched the neighborhood at failing to discover our intruder. SMHART security showed up a few minutes behind him, explaining that the company only had one notification of our distress signal, rather than three. (This was troubling, as you might imagine.)

Marshall gave a description of the intruder and the security guard sped off to look for him. In the meantime, the local police had been called. It was only dawn and our house was buzzing like a beehive! It would therefore shock you to know that my children slept through ALL of this: The blaring electric alarm, their naked father’s angry shouts, their crusty mother’s thunderous footsteps down the corridor…none of it was enough to rouse the Grant offspring. Now, if I had been hiding in a back corner somewhere trying to eat a Kit Kat in peace and solitude… You parents know how that always works out.


You may be asking yourself what kind of security we have in this house. Well, it’s South Africa, so everything is locked up pretty tight. We have a high concrete wall, topped by an electric fence. There are metal bars all over our bedroom windows. We have a security company and we lock up everything at night. It just never occurred to us to lock the laundry room because, well…it’s the laundry room. Now that we know our dishcloths and underwear are so valuable, we’ll be locking that up too.

In the grand scheme of things, the break in wasn’t bad in terms of items the value of items lost. The most inconvenient thing taken has been Stone’s boots. Stone has extra wide feet, and it’s always been a struggle to find comfortable shoes for him. It appears that South Africa has something against my family and the possession of boots.

As the day wore on, a detective came to question us. They had caught a man fitting the description that Marshall gave running by the circle in town. He asked me to ID a shirt that they’d picked up in a yard. The bargain-shopping miser in me would know that shirt anywhere.

“That’s definitely ours!”

Good ol’ Faded Glory.

Yesterday, I was asked to ID several other items in a bag they’d caught the potential intruder with. I’d hoped that the bag would include Stone’s shoes, since everything else would be easily replaceable. To both the detective’s and my disappointment, nothing in there belonged to us. It seemed that they had not caught our intruder after all.

“So I guess you’ll have to let him go then?” I mused aloud.

“Oh no,” said the detective, as though the idea were absurd. “We won’t be releasing him as yet.”

Oh great. Now on top of being a burglary victim, I have to worry if I’m an accomplice to violating someone’s civil rights. How could they justify holding him without proof? I guess things are just done differently here in SA. At least they didn’t shoot him sight as they might have done in the States…

We thank God that we’re fine and that no one was hurt. The kids thought it was all very exciting, but over the weekend they became more unsettled. What if they thief came back? How did he get in in the first place? How are we going to protect ourselves? I’ve done my best to reassure them, but even I have suffered from fitful sleep over the past 3 nights. The slightest noise jolts me from sleep and it’s beginning to interfere with my effectiveness during the day.

Have you ever been robbed? This isn’t my first robbery, but it IS this first time I’ve known someone to risk their freedom for used WalMart brand clothing.


VLOG: Marriage, Gender Roles and Christianity

*Note: We’re going away for the weekend, so I’m leaving the ol’ laptop up while we’re gone in hopes that this video will finish uploading while we’re away. Perils of SA internet! If you subscribe to our blog, you will be getting the post without the video. Check back in about an hour. 🙂

Yesterday, the internet was ablaze with commentary about a teaching Mega Church Pastor Chris Oyakhilome did about marriage, speaking to women, specifically. Naturally, I disagree with everything Pastor Chris said…because I am a woman with a God-given brain who puts it to use. Nevertheless, we (meaning “I”) thought it was important to give a godly/male perspective on an issue I find myself speaking about quite often. Marshall was kind enough to indulge and submitted to recording his insights.

Please read this excerpt from Pastor Chris’ teaching (which is fairly common perspective in Christiandom) and watch Marshall’s insights in the video following. Have a wonderful weekend!



Who is a HUSBAND and what is His Role?
By Pastor Chris oyaKhilome PhD…

Husband does not mean the male partner in a marriage, husband means master.

The reason for most problems in Christian marriages is the fact that women refute God’s definition of marriage and form theirs. They believe they are equal partners.

If most women had their fathers bold enough to talk to them, they will be very successful in their marriage and they will be very happy people. Most women have never been taught by their parents, their fathers particularly and that’s their biggest problem because they don’t know who a man is, they think he is another woman.

In marriage, you have the man who is the head of that union and because he’s the head of that union, its important to understand him. You think he’s the one that needs to understand his wife and that is where you are wrong. He will eventually but you have to know the type of man you are married to and his needs.

When you say you are marrying a man, you are coming under his authority. The Bible says, the man is the head of the woman (1 Corinthians 11:3) so when you marry him you come under his authority, you are not authority sharers even though you are both heirs to the kingdom of God.

When you decide not to subject yourself to that authority, you are a rebel and God is not going to accept what you are doing because you are not functioning correctly. Why did God make the woman?

Making woman was not God’s original plan because after God created Adam and before He made Eve, He said in Genesis 1:31 “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good”. God made woman because of man so woman was not His original idea. This is reality.

Genesis 2:18a “And the Lord God said “for it is not good for a man to be alone..” The Bible didn’t say “lonely” but “alone”. There is a big difference. Man wasn’t lonely but alone. Genesis 2:18b “…I will make him an help meet”. He didn’t say a partner or a supervisor or a special advisor or someone to tell him what to do.

I will make him someone to help him. God gave man a responsibility so woman was made to help man achieve that responsibility. If this is understood in every home then you won’t have problems.

I tell people that you don’t need a marriage seminar, you need the Word Seminar. Let me tell you, no husband wants another mother, he has had one all his life. He doesn’t want an older sister, he probably had one.

Your secret is in obedience, your secret is in listening to your husband, your secret is in doing the things that please him. When you don’t do the things that please him, you take the role of a mother or of an older sister.

A man loves the one he serves (God) and the one that serves him (a good wife). He fights the one that wants to be at the same level with him (a rebellious wife).

To be happy in your family and home is the easiest thing in the world, just take your role. Take your place. That place that God gave you is a beautiful place. Its a place of peace. Its a place of love. It’s a place of excellence.

Every wise person listens to wise voices (advice) but he listens to a wise voice that is presented wisely.

Everyone rebels against the voice that is trying to make a fool out of him. When you want to correct your husband, don’t lord it over him,present it as a wise suggestion. Humble yourself and be smart.

A wise woman will always be an influence to her husband, the foolish one will always annoy the husband, make him mad, make him angry and when you make him angry, you will be the victim. Learn to listen to your husband, practice it, tell yourself that you are going to do it because that is where your beauty is.

Once you stop listening, your beauty evaporates. You wonder why you are dressing and he can’t see it, he doesn’t remember your last hair style. Beauty is in obedience. That’s where the Glory is.

#Excerpts from Pastor Chris’ Teaching!”