Refugees, Reconciliation & Restoration: A Time Spent in Malawi


On our first day in the capital city of Lilongwe (pronounced: Lil-long-way), I noticed something that I hadn’t seen since a previous visit to a certain West African country: which was a number of military personnel on the street.  For many African countries this isn’t anything unique, but for some reason I had a vision of a political uprising and saw may solders on the street of Lilongwe with chaos and fighting. The vision moved me quite a bit. When we finally got to the B&B where we were staying, I was moved to spend time in prayer over what I saw in that vision.

That evening we had a powerful worship service at our FOIC affiliate church, Mt. Zion Worship Centre, with Pastor Martin Thom. Bishop Crudup preached in that service and then ordained about 30 pastors and one Bishop.

The following day I was to minister the morning and afternoon session during the conference we were attending at Pastor Thom’s church.  They gave me two 1.5-hour sessions to preach (and of course I preached all 3 hours) but first I had the whole church cry out to God for Malawi.  I told them what I saw and that it was our responsibility as the church to carry the nation in prayer.  So we prayed LOUD for about 30 or so minutes in intersession to God for Malawi.  I felt that God was honoring our prayers and that history was changing.  The lord moved!  Consequently, because of the strong prayers and that hard preaching, I lost my voice for a number of days.

I preached first on the “Whole Council of God’s Word” where I covered 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Romans 8 and John 1 and pointed out the infallibility of God’s word, the end time sins of the church, how we have a new lifestyle but not a new life and how we are to become the Word made flesh in the earth.

My second session was about your “Unlimited Potential” based off of Ephesians 1:19 where it says, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness (another version says, Unlimited Greatness) of God’s power for us who believe in Him, this same power that raised Christ from the dead…” During that session I covered true inner strength – pushing past yesterday’s pain for success today; Endurance – opposing opposition; Growth – facing the negative head on, and how motivation is temporary, but true enduring Grit comes from the inside (…Christ in you) and lasts forever (…the hope of Glory), “…Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame” Isaiah 50:7

The response was incredible!  I could see that even though after many hours of ministry that day the people were still on the edge of their seats listening and responding to every word.  Although I had an Interpreter, we had a flow like I hadn’t had before with other interpreters in the past.  Even my Interpreter was impacted.  He was not only repeating the words that I was saying, but also listening and the Lord was ministering to him.  All I can say was, “Thank you Lord!” I just remember sitting down as they were clapping in appreciation of the word and I said to God, thank you for allowing them to receive what you gave me to tell them. I thanked Him for bringing the increase in their lives.

The next day, Sunday was wall-to-wall activities. We visited Capital City Baptist Church- the church that Bishop Joseph pastored for over 7 years – and again to Pastor Martin’s church. Again that evening there was more ministry and a few more ordinations of church leaders as the conclusion of Pastor Thom’s conference.

IMG_2360On Monday, we visited the Malawian Parliament and met with Dr. Lazarus Chakwera – the opposition party leader to the current President – a man whom many believe will be the next president of Malawi. Bishops Crudup and Henry both know him well and worked with him in the past during his last election run. I could tell that he is a man of God and integrity.  He even made it clear that he just wants so serve his people to “right the ship” so that the next generation can continue.  He’s unlike most “for life” politicians of Africa, like the presidents of Uganda – Yoweri Museveni, Republic of Congo – Denis Sassou-Nguesso and now the forced out Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.  He really wants to make a change in his country and then help the young people take it to the next level.

IMG_2388On Tuesday we visited the Dzaleka (pronounced Za-leka) Refugee Camp, which was established in 1994 by the UN in response to the thousands fleeing genocide, violence and conflict in Burundi Rwanda and the D.R. Congo. Today, in a camp that was only planed for 6,000 people there are well over 28,000 refuges that live in Dzaleka. Unfortunately, Malawi denies refugees the right of movement out of the camp. If a refugee leaves the camp they will be arrested, harassed and taken back to the camp. As a result, Dzaleka is full of people from all walks of life: professional and non-professional, gangster and academic alike who fled to protect their lives, but cannot start life over again. Dzaleka has very little infrastructure, frequent water shortages, scourged with malaria and tuberculosis, no housing, dwindling food rations, and violence. With all of this against them, God is still doing something special in their midst.

That morning we visited a church that Bishop Joseph planted called the Dzaleka Christian Community Church where our team was to speak at a Pastors and Leaders gathering. There were about 50 or so Pastors and church leaders in attendance, almost all of whom were Congolese. As we were walking into the church I heard one of the most beautiful voices I ever heard leading the church in worship. It was a Congolese woman dressed in a beautiful red dress leading the church in worship. I was taken aback.

I was allowed to be the first to minister, but before I began my message the Lord pressed on my heart to prophesy over her. I told her that I see her singing to the Lord in the early morning by herself with a heart of true worship. I then spoke a new destiny over her life and prayed over her. She was deeply moved to tears and the people around her were in agreement with what I was saying. I then began to minister on Forgiveness and Repentance and how it restores relationships, families, and nations. I had revealed to them that my mother did a DNA test on my family paternity and found out that I’m 23% Congolese and told them about the African Slave trade to America. They all applauded with gladness. I then told them if I had more time I’d wash all of their feet as a sign of humility and reconciliation, but I could not and moved on. By the time I was done, again they were on the edge of the seats but I only had 30 minutes this time and had to allow time for the others who were to follow me. But what happened when I finished speaking shifted something in that place.

When I completed my talk, Bishop Henry called for them to bring water, a basin and towel, thus allowing me to wash at least one person’s feet. I had called for a gentleman in the front row that was a pastor to come forward and I began to wash his feet while unraveling what Jesus did in John 13. Powerful. The congregation was moved. Bishop Joseph was in tears and the Pastor who was getting his feet washed was humbled and grateful. All the other messages that went out after that was powerful and impacting all in alignment with God were saying to the people.

All of this is to say we had a powerful purpose driven time and I’m eternally grateful to God who allowed me to serve Malawi.

– Marshall Grant


The Miracle of Salvation


You know how God can take an image and download an entire message into your spirit in a matter of seconds? You ever notice how infrequently He gives you the vocabulary to express that message adequately? (Or maybe I’m the only one to suffer from this insufficiency.) Well, today’s post has little to do with an update about the work we’re doing in South Africa. If I’m to be honest, it’s a futile attempt to redeem myself for a botched job I did on delivering a word I was given last week. Now that I’ve had a chance to gather my thoughts, it may sound “deep” to the reader, but trust me, it was anything but on the Sunday I stood before the saints speaking it.

We have been visiting Johannesburg, and were invited to fellowship at My Father’s House where Robert Kelly (not to be confused with a certain sex cult leading R&B singer) is bishop. We were led in worship by a small, but dynamic team and were exhorted to personalize our worship by one of the team leaders. It was in that moment that I had a vision of salvation that I was itching to share with the saints. I doubted that I would have the opportunity, so I stored the information and swallowed my words. But God, right?

As I have come to expect, Marshall was invited to give a short message to the congregation. What I didn’t anticipate was Marshall tapping me on the shoulder and asking him to join him at the front, which I did dutifully. I was so moved by the interpretation of the image about the cross and personal worship I’d received that I didn’t have the capacity find the language to communicate what I truly wanted to impart. So I said:

“You know, like the sister said, worship is personal. It’s bloody. Jesus bled for us…each of us was born of a woman, and you can’t be born into a family without blooooodddd…!!!

The congregation stared at me blankly and Bishop Kelly grabbed back the microphone; and with good reason. Here was this stranger taking up the introduction time talking about childbirth!

But if I had the opportunity for a do-over (and as I said before, that’s essentially what this is), I might have said this:

“The mechanics behind conception and birth – in the natural – are nothing short of a miracle. Before a human being is formed in the womb, there are many obstacles that the seed of a man have to overcome before it can fertilize an egg. The birth canal is a treacherous place, as it sees seed as an invasive force/element. There are false corners and caverns to confuse the seed where they eventually get trapped and die. Out of the millions of sperm released, only ONE will successfully fertilize an egg. That doesn’t mean new life in the womb is guaranteed. But if a new life IS formed and nurtured in the womb, it will only be brought into this world with blood. There is no getting around that. Whether through a C-section or a vaginal birth, there will be the shedding of blood.

If the conception and gestation of our physical bodies is such a miracle, then how much more in the natural? There are so many obstacles, dark alleys and false/dead ends trying to impede our salvation. We are influenced by many voices and doctrines in this world, we’re tempted by all kinds of inducements…even our own minds try to convince us that the Cross cannot possibly hold all the power the word says it does. But if we press through all that muck and darkness and are able to reach the Cross, the Son and all the power therein, then we too become re-born in the spirit. We experience the miracle of new life. The body of (and blood shed by) a woman is our avenue into this physical world, just as Christ and his blood are the vessels into the adoption – or translation – into the family of God.”


We (and I’m really speaking to myself) need to prove ourselves worthy of this miracle – both miracles, really – every day. It’s a struggle, but it’s also an honor.

Have you ever received a vision from God that seemed unconventional on the outset? We’d be honored if you’d share! It wouldn’t be the first time He’s spoken to someone in an atypical way. Just ask Saul’s donkey.

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.



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.


It’s Election Day in South Africa, and Life Still Goes On

It’s August 3rd, 2016 and the day that South African voters turn out for municipal elections. We live in Bitou Municipality in the Western Cape. For the past 2 ½ weeks, cars draped in party colors have honked noisily on city streets in defiance of noise ordinances, hopeful candidates and speakers have made pilgrimages into townships armed with goodies such as t-shirts and handkerchiefs embossed with party emblems and volunteers have gone around town snatching down their opponents posters on street lamps and fixed poles, replacing them with the printed smiling face of the candidate with whom their loyalty lies. It is, in essence, a typical election atmosphere.

People are rarely excited about municipal elections, but South Africa is very different. When was the last time you went out to vote for city government? In America, voter turn out for local government hovers around 22-27% and is expected to plummet according to Despite plummeting confidence in national leadership, the South African voter takes his/her local election very seriously, it would seem. The most curious and unpredictable voters are Black voters. The ANC believes that they can take this voting bloc for granted – and they can, but only to a point. As one local confessed to me, “I vote DA for local elections and ANC for national.” She said most Black people in this area do.


These voters are no fools. They know who butters their bread and on which side it is buttered.  They know that it is DA (Democratic Alliance) stalwarts that provide the municipality with jobs, and the ANC that only comes around to deliver promises. Still, given this countries morbid history with apartheid, the idea of electing a white president of a “white party” is one that inspires fear and discomfort in a lot of people.

Elections are very serious business in South Africa. Life in general is very serious business.

Today, our kids have the day off because their school doubles as a polling station. As I type, they are upstairs crafting or preparing to watch TV or perhaps playing on the iPad that they jostle each other for possession over almost every waking hour of the day. We sat around having breakfast, gazing at the torrential downpour that has been raging since the small hours of the morning. It is still battering our glass doors and windows, threatening to uproot the tender shoots in our backyard. What better day to not have to venture out into the cold, wind and rain? Sure, it’s a day off from school, but it’s still business as usual…which in our house tends to be noisy, but pleasant nonetheless. Today, I got a sober reminder that humdrum and steady beat of life in the middle class in not one to take for granted; and that though voting day may be a holiday, there are no vacations from real life.

Our housekeeper called early in the morning to tell us that she would either be coming in or she wouldn’t. I couldn’t tell. She was speaking so fast and mixing her speech with Afrikaans that I gave the phone to Marshall to try to decipher what she was trying to convey.

“Something about her son and 12 o’clock…”

20 minutes later, she showed up at our door with reddened eyes and making flighty moves in our darkened corridor. Without warning, she broke down and burst into tears.

What I had missed over the phone was that her son had suffered from another mental break, one caused by his brief indulgence with drugs a few years ago. “Tik” – or meth – had swept through their township and had taken a devastating toll on all the residents from the school aged to the elderly alike. It seemed like every one was either selling or using tik, from pastors who traded it in their congregations to grocers who laced their candy to get kids hooked to school teachers and administrators getting high off the stuff. Our housekeeper’s son, now 21, was just one of that unfortunate number.

She wept until her body shook, explaining that the government funded drug treatment center was coming to collect their son in a police van after noon today. She wanted to work for the day’s wages but be home in time to be there to accompany him. Her husband is formerly employed and therefore had the day off, but didn’t want to be the one to go with their boy to the hospital.

“He is afraid he will start fighting with the people if he goes.”

All we could do is listen and nod sympathetically, promise to pray and hug her as she explained her pain. Last year was a tough one for her. She’d lost one family member after another, and this hospital was notorious for discharging patients in a state of rigor mortis.

“They say they want to keep him for 2 weeks, but I know they’re going to keep him longer.”

I lied and said I was sure that they wouldn’t. But what do I know? I have only been a resident of this country for 2 months. My assurances mean nothing to a grieving mother. Naturally, we told her that she must take the day off – or as many days as she needed – with pay.

“But what about the dishes and laundry?” she asked sincerely.

My God. What kind of attitude compels one to worry about my crusty dinner dishes when your son in undergoing a mental crisis? Bless this woman!

“We’ve got it. Just GO.”

She looked at us skeptically, but drove off with her husband to face what they must back at home nevertheless.

I woke up to a storm, wondering if the tempest would affect voter turn out across the municipality. Maybe it will, and perhaps zealous voters will don their gumboots and queue in the sludge to make their voices heard. But for many other citizens like our housekeeper, ones for whom the system has disappointed and failed to protect so utterly, there will be no vote today. Taking the day to prop up a government puppet is probably the last thing on her mind on a day like today.

White Privilege Ran Into Our Car Today

The weather in Plett has been absolutely gorgeous, and if you follow us on Instagram, no doubt you’ve been diverted by the pictures of brilliant blue skies, the ocean’s sapphire surf and the majestic mountains all around us. Today, however, the temperatures dropped dramatically and we were forced to stay inside. Marshall had to go into town to get some bank transfer stuff sorted out (a process that he has logged 56 hours trying to complete) and was gone for the majority of the morning. At around 2 pm, he came back looking both triumphant and dejected.

“I got the bank account set up today,” he said sullenly.

I didn’t raise my eyes from my phone screen when I replied. “Great! Congratulations!”

“I also got into a fender bender today.”


Now my attention was solely fixed on my husband’s stiff, marbled countenance.

“Yeah. I was at a stop in town waiting for some car to turn and this dude came flying down the street and hit me.”

“Did you call the police?”


“Did you exchange insurance information?”

“He didn’t have insurance.”

“Well, did you get pictures of his face, car and license plate???”

“No! I was just too pissed off to do any of that but yell that he’d be paying for the damages! I don’t know how this kind of stuff works here in South Africa! …All I got was his card with his cell phone number on it.”

Marshall was curt and his tone sharp. We’ve had this car for less than a month, and within 2 weeks of Marshall’s re-entry into the country, THIS happens. I looked at the business card Marshall had been given and groaned inwardly.

Ben Banderhurst*

Producer| Guitarist| Teacher

The guy who hit him was some white surfer kid who played the guitar for a living. Without even meeting this guy, I knew that he was probably the embodiment of every beach town cliché I’d seen on Disney channel or the CW.

Continue reading here….