How It all Began- by Allan Greig
(Founder and Director)
Why Revolution? I confess I used to dislike the word “revolution”. It sounded exaggerated and overused by advertisers trying to sell everything from Chevy’s to skinny jeans. Its political connotations are scary and its use in pop culture just seems like the same old hype. But one day I saw it used in its rightful place and it resonated so deeply.
“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us? When we begin to take the lowest place, to wash the feet of others, to love our brothers and sisters with that burning love, that passion, which led to the cross, then we can truly say, ‘Now I have begun’.” – Dorothy Day
Rewind the tape…
I am an African. I was born and raised in Zambia. I grew up with more than what most people had. We weren’t rich by Western standards but I always had three meals a day, clean clothes to wear and Christmas presents under our tree. I attended private boarding schools and was given a first world education. Yet I was always aware that there were few of us “haves” and many, many “have nots”. In fact from my upfront view, I recognized that there was actually a third group; “the have-absolutely-nothings”. Even as a kid this always troubled me greatly. What troubled me most was the surrendered acceptance that this is the way it is and will always be.
After college in South Africa and a few years in the working world I came to the U.S. to attend seminary at Moody Graduate School in Chicago. I began to see a strong theme in scripture that I had not understood before; God’s intense compassion for the marginalized and His desire for righteousness and justice, rooted in His salvation.
It was only on a trip back to Africa, where I was leading a team of American Grad students did the tragic reality of poverty erupt in me. I knew the numbers and statistics but it had not connected personally.
We were in an extremely poor area, visiting a local pastor, community leader and friend of mine. He wanted me to meet a young man my age, who like me, was also half Zambian and half South African. His name was Eric; he was alone in the back room of a small house, and he was dying of AIDS. He had no access to anti-retroviral medication. He was a skeleton of a man lying on the bed. His eyes were dark and deeply set. It felt good and right to sit with him for a while. I held his thin frail hand. His skin felt like stretched paper. We whispered small talk, offered him some encouragement and prayed with him. He smiled and coughed but he was too sick to speak. He gazed out the window and his deep eyes welled up. I wept. As I walked out of his room into the brilliant sunshine, God impressed these words on me,
“This is where I want my Church to be. This is what I want my people to be about.”
It’s hard to really explain but I left that morning with a new, grand and enormous sense of God’s love and compassion for the broken, the lonely and the have-absolutely-nothings. God cares and so should we.
Out of this moment of conviction and clarity Africa Revolution was born.
In the years that followed, God led us into issues of community care and development, at a grassroots relational level. While we have been involved in many different efforts we seek to keep discipleship and compassion at the forefront of all we do. Over the last 8 years we have grown into a family of friends from all over the world. We’ve been learning, failing, falling forward and getting back up. We believe we have a small part to play in God’s story and that is exciting! Today, Africa Revolution is a small but fiery organization attempting to bring about that revolution of the heart.
We invite you to join us!
Click on the “By the Years” tab to discover more of our story.
By the Years
2003-2007 The Earlier Years
The initial trip to South Africa God planted the seed of what AR would become. A ministry that cares for, serves and loves the marginalized in society. Orphan and Widow care became a major focus of that care. (Orphans and widows can be the most vulnerable demographic among the poor.) In January 2006 AR is officially launched when Allan quits his job to start the ministry. We started off under the auspicious of African Leadership Development until we became our own entity. With trips to Africa and back we learned that long term sustainable community development needed to happen through skills transference and empowerment but planted in a local context. During these early years we spent time learning from many, many people and working to establish partners in South Africa. We strive to be humble teachable learners. We sent out our first volunteers; Vandy Bauer and the Daganis who set up a computer lab and wrote curriculum to aid in bringing computer skills to a community. We got involved with food programs and school programs that reached out to the community through the Powerhouse church in Mamelodi. During these years our board was formed and we registered as a non-profit headquartered in Chicago, IL.
2008-2011 The Shaping Years
In 2008 we officially become a 501(c)(3) non-profit registered in the US. We sent out our first official year long Vision Year volunteer team to Mamelodi, South Africa. Will Brown, the Clendenins and the Greigs spend half of 08 and half of 09 in South Africa. During this year ideas are tested and the vision became more focused. We saw that troubled communities need servant leaders with integrity and humility. So additionally to what we were already doing it became imperative to raise up empowered African men and women with a heart after the Lord and a heart for the community. The infamous Grandpa in world missions, Floyd McClung encourages and challenges us on how we can most effectively serve the Church in Africa. Jason, Cara and Nick Mitchell join AR and seek to establish the Life House Baby rescue home in Mamelodi. Clever Masvimbo joins the Mitchells in Swaziland in the orphan town of Bulembu. In 2011 we took on our first African (and Canadian, eh?) Interns with our team in Hawane, Swaziland. We partnered with Potters Wheel Church, Challenge Ministries and The Luke Commission in Swaziland.
During 2012 the concepts of relational discipleship and missional community take root in the DNA of AR and our model shifts from being heavily program driven to people driven with discipleship being foundational to all we do. Clever Masvimbo and the Kaiser family come on staff and AR looks to set up a new work in Lusaka, Zambia. Discipleship and Compassion best describe us as a ministry.
Only the Lord knows the future but we long to see more quality teams and Kingdom communities established throughout the continent. We would love to better equip and empower God’s people in their care of orphans and widows. And we would love to see more of God’s church doing missions to the ends of the earth.