The main thing I did last year at Ten Thousand Homes was building our new Discipleship Program; it’s called Aspire School of Artists and Entrepreneurs. I worked with my friend Mzwandile to develop the program because we felt that God was leading us to provide a place of enrichment that related to our generation and its needs. In 2016 we had our first group of students to experience Aspire. We aim at helping young artists and entrepreneurial-minded people to figure out how to use their passions to change the world. We’ve had five really incredible people in the program so far. It’s been awesome seeing how much they’ve grown. They’re from the United States, Burundi, and South Africa. Being a part of Aspire has been a humbling experience. It has shown me a lot of my strengths and weaknesses.
In order to keep this vision going on a day-to-day basis, I learned that it takes a lot of work. Nothing worthwhile is easy to attain. Throughout the day I usually was in the classroom with the Aspire students where we had different guest speakers, or a group discussion on different media presentations. Every week I also had one-on-ones with them about the different subjects in class, or I would meet with them to help develop their skills in their art forms. As a group we also did community work to help some local leaders with their feeding and discipleship programs.
The most important thing I’ve learned through Aspire is this: other people don’t need me to fix them. Very often, as Americans, we have the mindset that other people around the world need to be enriched with the American culture and standards of living. Here’s the thing: every culture has something beautiful to offer the world, even if other parts of it aren’t 100% correct. Who am I to tell people who grew up so differently from myself that they are doing things wrong, especially if that practice isn’t harming anyone? Here’s the other part of it though. I am floored at how open South Africa has been to me. It has adopted me as its own. I’ve never felt so confident in myself or so at home, yet also so outside of my comfort zone. South Africa has molded me into the person I am supposed to be. It has opened my eyes to my dreams and passions, and has shown me my place in the world as both an artist and a Jesus-follower. It has made me more proud of my own upbringing. I can’t believe that I’m fortunate enough to be called to be a part of a movement of people who are making such a deep impact in their own communities that it is shaping and changing the world for the better. What have I done to deserve this? ...to daily be invited into something so life-giving? ...to have other people allow me the space to speak into their lives and help them pursue their talents and dreams? South Africa does not need me. I need South Africa. The world as a whole needs Africa. Let’s start believing in each other’s dreams more. Let’s allow others the space to inspire and empower their peers. Let’s stop trying to fix other people, and start seeking healing and growth together.
Taking this and some other things I learned last year, I've been completely absorbed by my new jobs and roles in 2017. Be on the watch-out for what I will be doing next, and how you can help!
During the second half of the Aspire program, I had the opportunity to be a talent mentor for one of our students, Cherie. Every week we got together and focussed on different aspects and methods of art. It was great to both pass on useful information to her and to learn from her. It was so refreshing to learn from another young artist who has similar passions to mine. The messages she shares through her work so far has been incredible to experience first-hand. This is a piece from her last project. I can’t wait to see what opportunities her work leads her to!