Wait... South Africa?

July 31, 2015 by Greg Lesnewich
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If you know anything about Scott Congdon, you know he is incredibly difficult to keep pace with. The depth of things that amuse him and intrigue him is about as thick as an encyclopedia. Animal organ structure, the people serving on an Amor trip, the Pluto photos, the families we build alongside, spending habits of recent retirees, and the importance of getting low-impact exercise (“We gotta get a lot of steps in today!”).

Scott will often brainstorm wandering around his old stomping grounds, the San Diego Zoo. For years, Scott worked in and around the San Diego Zoo, aspiring for a career as a veterinarian there. Luckily for us, God said, “HA! Okay pal, time to change lives!” Scott still sticks to his roots, and calls the zoo home.

The zoo operates as a great metaphor for Scott’s mind: a multitude of ecosystems somehow coexisting in a very small area (no comment on the size of his head). Things of beauty and power are marveled at, only to be supplanted by the next, which come at a dizzying rate. Which is why it makes perfect sense, culturally, for Amor to operate in South Africa

Most new participants are confused when they learn Amor serves in Mexico and South Africa. Two nations, worlds apart. Not to mention the drastic differences in culture and needs between South Africa and Tijuana.  They may assume, why not expand in Latin America? Or maybe within Mexico?Lion_Chase_5k_September_race

Scott’s vision is not constricted by a narrow sense of geography but traces his own map based on purpose, and where God has called him. Similarly to how God’s economy often doesn’t follow normal logic (rules are for mortals), God’s cartography for Scott’s heart isn’t burdened by miles or mountains. Rather, Scott’s mile-a-minute mind was created in order to serve God in such audacious ways. To add a new group of people to serve alongside, in addition to the families so treasured in Tijuana, may have seemed daunting, but also made a lot of sense.

Similarly, Jesus was initially called to serve a single people: the Israelites. However, as His ministry grew, He traveled with His disciples to Tyre. They were approached by a Canaanite woman, whose daughter was possessed by a demon. After Jesus claimed to be called only to the lost sheep of Israel, the woman’s faith prevailed. Jesus relented, and healed her daughter (Matthew 15:22 - 28 and Mark 7.24-29). As a private Israelite citizen (that whole 100% man thing is important here), Jesus was obligated to show kindness to the foreigner (Leviticus 19.33; Exodus 22.21; Deuteronomy 10.18). As the Messiah, He was obligated to show God’s love and light to all people (Isaiah 60:3, 11:10, 42:6).

The onus of spreading the Gospel was then placed on the disciples and apostles. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:16-20).” Paul was proclaimed to be God’s “chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel (Acts 9:15).” And Peter received a vision, to remove distinction, and therefore, prejudice, between Jew and Gentile (Acts 10).

All of this is to say, as Christians, we are called to love PEOPLE, without prejudice, regardless of circumstance or location (which are heavy, challenging, and demanding calls). While we may be called by God to one people initially, God is in the business of ridiculous and absurd expansion. Scott and Amor Ministries received a similarly perplexing call, to continue to manifest Jesus’ justice, kindness and humility, but now to the people of South Africa. Abounding racial challenges multiplied the complications of expanding into South Africa, not to mention the drastically different insurance, housing and legal needs to operate there.

Scott will never concede that adding South African reconciliation was an easy process, but will say that rarely does God call us to do something that we alone can accomplish. God has used Amor in South Africa not only to build His Kingdom (brick by brick) but also to replenish and re-reveal himself to Amor. An evolution of faith occurred, as new elements of God’s love and faithfulness were revealed in the process of Amor beginning to build homes to keep South African families together.download 15 key moments in South Africa Ebook

The appeal of South Africa to Scott also lies in its differences with Mexico: namely, the ability to safari and see lions, elephants, giraffes and other sorts of ridiculous animals most of us only read about, or see in children’s picture books. If you’ve witnessed Scott in his “zone” down in Mexico, you’re only picking up a fraction of what’s cooking up in his brain. South Africa has offered him a place to combine his passions, a sweet spot if you will, where everything is in his wheelhouse. He will discuss the latest South African news (he is an international radio correspondent for two news agencies), discern Amor’s goals for keeping families together and reconciliation, and the meteorological differences between South Africa and Mexico which demand vastly different housing. And of course, giddy as a schoolboy, driving off into the sunset, Scott will tell you all about every animal you just saw on Safari.

Topics: Diary of an Intern