Posts in Abigail Van Peursum

Waiting for a story

October 5th, 2015 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum


Injustice has shown me her cards this summer. Or at least I’ve heard her stories. Stories she has been sewing for decades in Southern Africa to rip apart families and steal the hope of being truly human. Stories that spell out the impact of disease as HIV continues to sweep like wildfire. Stories of anger and child abuse. Stories that whisper of fear, of abortion and of sexuality that is out of control and used to oppress, control and satisfy a hopeless flesh. I’ve met women and men who are crying out.

And this righteous anger wells in me, I sit before the Father and ask him what. the. heck. are we supposed to do. And my patient Father. He began to tell me a story.

The story started with family. It started with joy and laughter and a unity. Like a late night around a fire after having long been away, where we are fully accepted and enjoyed and together with those we love. And then he began to tell of a creativity that came as the family began to express the beauty they had known together. And he told me, girl it was good. And it was so good they wanted to share this. And so they began to create little ones, little ones that looked just like them. It was perfect. But when the children began to grow they began to see choices, they wanted to explore the unknown and have their own thing- apart from the family. And so they did, and they made poor choices which distanced themselves from the family. Soon after guilt began to grip these children because they knew it was their choices that brought this dreadful separation. And the kids became ashamed of who they were. They started to wonder if there was something wrong with them- if they weren’t worthy again to join the presence of the family. So again- separation came.
And the family! The heartbreak they felt! The longing they began to experience for these children. They didn’t care what they had done. They didn’t care how the children had acted or what they had said. The family just wanted their kids to come home. And they were going to do whatever it took to get them back again. And so the father of this family, he began to go after them. He knew the children couldn’t get back on their own. He was ready to go to whatever lengths necessary to see the family together again. He would bring them back to the joy, to the peace and acceptance he had once known with them.

And so the story goes, that these choices led to a separation that was forever. A separation as tall as death. And the only way to have his children back was to defeat this death. And that is the very thing that happened. He couldn’t have it any other way. He would bring his children home.

And as He was telling me this story. His story. This He said, was what justice looks like. This He said is what He is doing. And He will have his family. His son will have his bride. And he will not stop pursuing us, He will not grow faint. He will not grow discouraged. He will establish justice on all the earth. And this He said, is the good news. This He said is the gospel.

And so as I have heard the stories from these men and women that cry out. I realize they are crying out for this story. For this story to define them, have them, become theirs. I realized that what a teacher said to me during YWAM is really true. “The whole world is waiting for a story. And that story is the man Jesus.” And His story is alive. And if we believe it, it will redefine and rewrite all of our stories- no matter the plight or strength of the hand that seems to be in control of the pen on the page. His story is ours. And we are His.

JOHN 17:3

My Beat the Drum teaching partner and I in South Africa, Felix!

Intern Limpo Mvula and myself at the Indian Ocean

A sunset worth sharing from South Africa over the community we served in:)

The interns celebrating the completion of the summer with a safari

Students in South Africa- celebrating our presence in their school and The Story we shared

Myself and Maggie- This woman is a warrior, a social worker in the school in South Africa I taught in, fighting the fight against injustice with these kids every day. She inspired me tremendously!

A bash in Zambia- celebrating the Beat the Drum program in their school

The wild interns again:)

My Friends! (left to right; Elena, Mariska, Myself, Joash and Thando)

Friends reunited since 2013 (Elena, Timothy, Myself & Miriam) Remember this story??

Intern Emily Hens and one of the students she connected with and encouraged during Beat the Drum in Zambia

abby_author ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abby Phillips is the Program Architect of Poetice International.

My Heroes! Mike Hamweene

June 16th, 2015 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum

Photo by Asah Photography


There’s something about Mikey that makes me want to tell other people that I’m his friend. That my knowing him is something I need to tell my mom. I wish I could communicate the depth of his goodness even to Mike. Because he is a guy who stands by what is right in the middle of an ocean that swallows such people. When all odds and all pressures and all of his surroundings move according to the norm, Mike remains secure in what he sees as true. He contemplates the ways of his nation with eyes that are much bigger than the world his own have consumed. He cares about his economy. He grieves for his people and the corruption in Africa.  He loves agriculture and wants to empower the people of this nation in organic, creative and realistic ways. Ones that glorify God and bring dignity back into families. Mike is dedicated. And his heart is enormous. He cares for people, and multiplies the moments he gets with them. He runs hard and he runs fast and he runs with great passion. Mike sits and talks and encourages and values people above projects. He loves kids. And he dreams of a bright and beautiful future. And in every movement and word he worships his Father. His breath and worth and pursuit of life is worship, continually laying himself down for the Kingdom. With constant songs (quite literally) he praises God. He wakes with a paradigm that is risky and full of faith as he continues to step forward into ministry in the midst of an impoverished nation and pressures to “make it”. Yet his defiance, his dangerous defiance is a beautiful act of worship each and every day. 

And he is one of my great friends. He co-leads our internship program in Zambia. And leads the ministry for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. And all of these things I just said about him make him seem very serious. HA. Okay, he is serious about this life. But oh his personality is far from it. He laughs like I don’t know. And he’s full of joy and energy and honesty. He’s comfortable in every situation. And tells me to chill out. (who is this guy??) Taking a personality test, Mike knows me well enough to keep me honest. And I care about him enough to scold his African self for getting to close to the elephants. He loves to dance and whistle and shout and stir up a crowd. When I met Mike, he asked me “Whats the craziest thing you’ve ever done?” And with shyness for show and no real answer, I’m looking at him thinking, who is this crazy. Little did I know his craziness was contagious and brilliant and after the wild heart of Jesus. 

Mike Hamweene, you’re a hero. An inspiration. To walk by faith and not sight. To stand on truth even when doing so alone. And to worship King Jesus because of it all. 


Photo by Asah Photography


Photo by Asah Photography


Photo by Asah Photography


Photo by Ryan Humm

abby_author ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abby Phillips is the Program Architect of Poetice International.

My Heroes! Willy Ng’ambi

May 11th, 2015 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum

photo by Ryan Humm

This my friends, is Willy. 

Sweet certainty and wisdom line his frequent and happy smile. His words are chalked full of careful thought and his steps leave prints weighty with intention. This my friends, is Willy. William Ng’ambi to be more precise. And I get to walk with this fellow day in and day out to lead the summer internship program in Zambia. 

Willy is from Zambia. He’s a few years older than I, and he loves to see people love and worship God. He grew up in the Lusaka area, he is pursuing his degree in accounting and entered the world of missions nearly 10 years ago in South Africa. Since then, he has been to over 18 African countries doing similar ministry. Through these experiences, God has been shaping his unique gift of influencing young people. He has given Willy a dream to disciple, lead and give under-privileged kids an equal opportunity for education and enable them to contribute positively to society. He currently leads a soccer ministry with over 40 kids and is constantly calling them to think for themselves, tell the truth and to dream dreams bigger than they previously imagined. 

Over the next few months, this guy is going to be imparting his life into the students in the internship program. Willy’s love for Jesus is evident through his radical generosity with time and resources. He is a beautiful example of living out a life of prayer and drinking in scripture until he becomes it. Being around him, he challenges me, invites me into brilliant new ways of doing things, and teaches me to grow up in the Lord and walk out in faith. And how sweet its going to be for this to sink into our students! This guy is a hero. And he’s changing this world with his life. 

One quick story about Willy and I. Last summer, we loved to play Mafia. For those of you who don’t know, Mafia is a ‘friendly’ game of elimination and secret identities. Secret identity means you must lead people to believe you are or are not certain individuals within the game. Willy is a pretty quiet guy, truthful and kind, and after several intense rounds, I was certain he couldn’t deceive a soul if he tried. Siding with my faithful pal the whole game, whispering our two-man-team game plan throughout, we had the perfect plan to defeat the rest. Until he eliminated me. Done. Gone. Without even an ounce of suspicion before the game ended. Ha! He’s not all roses. Should we add competitive to his list of charming strengths? That was my formal introduction to the side of him we call Weekend Willy.  And thats Willy for y’all! You’ll surely see more pictures of him throughout the year as I share what’s going on:) Cheers!

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abby_author ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abby Phillips is the Program Architect of Poetice International.

Spring 2015 Update

March 24th, 2015 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum

– Published on March 24, 2015 –

I often get the question “What do you do when you’re in the states?” I forget to blog or share or post while I am on this side of the ocean. But, the truth is, there’s so much going on! Here’s an update both stateside and abroad.

In Zambia, we have begun to expand into surrounding cities. We have started several new ministries in both Livingstone and Lusaka. We have initiated transformational development with several groups and individuals effected by HIV/aids. We have held worship and healing ministry at our remote bases. We’ve started screen printing & transportation entrepreneurial initiatives. And we have been focusing intently on strengthening the community of volunteers serving together. Several young adults who have been on the receiving end of our ministries (including Elena!) are now helping lead these ministries and are being continually strengthened in their own walk with the Lord as they do.
However, amidst this growth and celebration, we have experienced resistance in making progress. Spiritually, relationally and structurally, we have been forced to recognize the whole system of poverty. Poverty invades minds, hearts, motives and desires. It can trickle into the way we see ourselves, our God and our neighbors. We have been led to see the poverty in ourselves. And we have come to see poverty in those we serve. This past season we have begun to understand more of the strongholds that grip the region that we continually seek to serve within. Yet, we consider it joy, to face trials of many kinds.  To learn what grips our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, has been huge in learning how to reach them in effective, real and loving ways.

In the states, I’ve been developing programs with partners abroad, improving the process of sending teams,  and played a role in continually strengthening relationships with U.S. partner churches. I have had the opportunity to visit a few of these churches in the U.S. over the past few months. This has been a blast as I receive many of these individuals in Africa each year! I have been able to better understand the church culture our teams are coming from. I’ve been so encouraged by the hearts and gererosty of the churches we serve alongside.

As the year progresses, I’m going to be sharing with you the heartbeats of the heroes involved in this work and organization. I’m also going to be sharing ways we have been challenged as a staff in how we can do justice through decisions of everyday life. Stay tuned for spotlights next month!



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Update: Program 10 – December 2014

January 5th, 2015 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum

What. a. year. There was no better way to wrap up 2014 than with a grandiose Program 10 in Zambia! This program has confirmed that a new page is turning in the ministry we do with short & long term teams with our international partners. And I couldn’t be more geeked.

The point of missions, of outreaches, of mission trips is essentially to seek justice. And as we seek to do justice, we are continually posed with the question- what does this look like? What is justice. Justice is represented by the outcomes, the scenarios we are trying to eradicate or achieve. To see justice is to see kids with loving families, people without HIV, mothers full of joy, fathers without addiction, young girls not being taken advantage of, wives without fear of their husbands, people without hunger. These are all scenarios we focus on seeing happen- because the current situation is unjust. So to see justice is to see these situations removed. IMG_0082

Yet I am always caught up on the ‘how do we get there?’

Often our response is to fix whatever problem is in front of us. But what we are learning is to first be with Jesus. Let him change us first. Let him do a good thing in us before we go out and try to fix anything. Let him first show us what real life is before we try to share it with another. Let us be humbled. Let us be transformed. Let us be with him and in his presence so that we are overflowing with life. And then let us go and be with people. Just like Jesus. I always think about how Jesus just hung out with his disciples. All the time, he ate, walked, talked, dined, taught, fished. That man spent time with his bros. He had authority in relationship with those guys. They respected him. They knew him. He spent time with his people. He righted relationship. He represented love that would never fail or fade.  

So this is what we did during this past program in December. We spent time with Jesus. We prioritized time with him. We dug in to our own lives with him. We got vulnerable with each other. We sought IMG_4164transformation in hearts and minds in our own teams first. And then we spent time in the homes in the community. And our God showed up:) He worked miracles, opening taps for water to flow for the first time in years.  He healed a man who couldn’t raise his arms.  He multiplied popcorn when we ran out at our celebration. He transformed through our testimonies. He increased the faith of those serving and those being served. He righted mindsets over what it means to be ‘a Christian’. He set up our long term volunteers in Zambia to go back to that community and follow up and continue in those relationships.

So this is how we seek justice. By believing if we know love that will never fade or fail, if we know relationship that is real, we won’t need unhealthy relationships, we won’t fear loneliness, we won’t have addition to fill holes, or mistreat our children. By knowing that true love leads us to act on behalf o each other. And this stems from what we believe about ourselves, our God and the people around us. And this is true for people no matter where we are from- no matter the depth of injustice stacked against us. Our God is greater and stronger. And we have full access to him. And relationship with him is the answer to all injustice.  And we all have a story about Him to tell.  And its going to change the world. IMG_0120 IMG_0027

abby_author ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abby Phillips is the Program Architect of Poetice International.

Happy Independence Zambia!

October 24th, 2014 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum

– October 24, 2014 –

1024px-Flag_of_Zambia.svgToday is a BIG day in Zamia. This year celebrates 50 years of independence for the nation! On October 24, 1964, Zambia gained their independence from the United Kingdom.
The Brits came in the 18th century to explore this land that was originally inhabited by Khoisan people.  By the end of the 19th century, Zambia become the British protectorate (land that is protected by a stronger state, i.e. Britain) of Northern Rhodesia. During this time, this land was governed by Brits appointed from London who sought counsel and advice from the British South Africa Company (a company led by this Rhodes guy himself- whose intention was to colonize & exploit the resources near the Zambezi River as part of the Scramble for Africa). 
And then finally- on October 1964 the country gained their independence under their first president, Kenneth Kaunda- the current prime minister. Kaunda’s socialist party maintained power from 1964 until 1991. He was succeeded by Frederick Chiluba until 2002, where Levy Mwanawasa then became president until his death in 2008. After his death, Rupiah Banda held the office- but for only three years. He was defeated in the election in 2011 by the current and 5th President, Michael Chilufya Sata. 


Current President; Michael Chilufya Sata This picture hangs in almost every public place in Zambia.

abby_author ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abby Phillips is the Program Architect of Poetice International.

Celebrate Life.

October 1st, 2014 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum


It's not just me, I swear!

It’s not just me, I swear!

Buckets. Every time I walk outside I keep thinking to myself.. has it always been this beautiful in the fall? Granted I haven’t spent autumn in the states in the past few years- so I’m extra excited about changing leaves and jackets and crispy mornings and sunshine in the dew on the grass like it does. But this over excitement about normal things is reminding me yet again of the words I keep coming back to in this season: Celebrate Life. 
And wah, celebrate life sounds a kind of cute-sie little thing. But dang when you get words from Jesus, they don’t feel cute-sie. They feel real and alive and like girl you better listen up. This all started when I was getting ready to come back to the states at the end of September. I had an amazing summer in Zambia, doing so many things I loooove.  Leading immersion trips and mission training thing-things, seeing God move and speak like crazy and witnessing people come alive and loving times to worship that Jesus — and so (understandably I like to think), I was a little unexcited and anxious about making another transition to this USA. I know I’ve done this before, and it wasn’t like forever that I had been gone, or that I didn’t want to come home and see my family and friends. I am lucky beyond what that I get to see my people in the states as much as I do! But its that thing. Its hard to jump in and out of lives and worlds and cultures and all that bizz. So. I wasn’t excited to say the least. I was loving what I was in. And then the Lord so graciously said to me,
My Poetice Fam, clearly celebrating my life too!

My Poetice Fam, clearly celebrating my life too!

“Abigail, excise me. I just did this for you- 4 months ago when you can to Zam. I went ahead of you, prepared the way, smoothed your transition- and it was so. much. better. than you imagined it would be. So, take a moment and remember. Remember who I am. Remember What I’ve done. Faith this time is standing on something you’ve already experienced. And since your memory is still a babe, I’m doing it again after just 4 months, so you know even more who I am. So remember. And celebrate what I did. Celebrate that I will always be with you. Celebrate that in your life, you never have to go without me. And that, in itself is worth celebrating. So celebrate me, in your life, and that this is enough.”
Haha. Jesus! Who is he? He is enough. And He is worth celebrating. And so since I’ve been home, I’m alive in celebration.  Seeing fall in full color. Seeing friendships and days as opportunities to celebrate Him and what He has so fully done, and does, every day as he’s alive with me. Gosh life is good when you get the gift to see like this! And so I shall, until He gives me something new- to just plan celebrate life.

Thando and I, in Swaziland in July.


August 15th, 2014 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum

Trevor & Kristy Kaufman – Team Leaders from Hamburg Wesleyan Church in NY

I’ve been processing through this prayer thing A LOT this year. Why does he ask us to pray? Does it change whether we ask? God is God, right, he is going to do what he does regardless what we say, isn’t he? Actually, no. He isn’t. He involves us so that we know he is God. Not so something bad doesn’t happen or so life unfolds the way he wants it to. He actually doesn’t care so much what happens as he cares that we know who he is in the middle of it. And so He asks us to pray in order that we see him when he answers these prayers. My theology might not be sound in this, and there might be gaps, but what I do know is the heart of my God when he shows me. And this I know he is showing me, that He wants me to know him, and he wants me to have the eyes to see him when he moves. And by inviting me to prayer, showing me what to pray for or how to pray and then letting me see it happen, this causes his heart to leap and his hand to move. Because his girl gets to see him love her and respond to my words and the cry of my heart.
He showed me this during Program Ten in the last few weeks. The leaders came together about 4 days before the program began to prepare and pray for this. We asked for God to show us what he wanted to do during this program, and what we should start asking him for. He spoke in 3 different ways to 3 different people during prayer that he wanted to bring revival to this place. He wants to bring his glory back by experiencing him and seeing his face. And he wants to do that through this organization, in the hearts and lives of all people that serve here or are influenced or touched by this place. We were shown his heart, we were given a glimpse into what he was going to do, so that we could start asking for it. And so we began praying for these things throughout the program. And then it started happening as we went through the program. Leaders were seeing visions of people to pray for at hospitals so God could show them his face, students were opening their lives at camp and becoming vulnerable and turning their lives around in this very place to give God glory. And all the while I got to see prayer matter. I got to see my God answer because we took time to speak with him. AMEN. 

abby_author ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abby Phillips is the Program Architect of Poetice International.

Update: program TEN.

August 1st, 2014 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum
This last month we ran a program called ‘Program Ten’ which features ten days of service in the community. The purpose is IMG_9357to pour into the community of Choma, build family as an organization and create opportunities for the Father to encounter us, both staff, volunteers, campers and any individuals in the community. The program was led by 20 leaders from Fortress, the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg, and other local leaders from the Southern Province (Zambia is divided into 10 provinces, rather than states. We are located in the Southern Province, which is about the size of South Carolina). We served in local hospitals and clinics and hosted a camp during the 10 day program. And while serving is beautiful and seeing God move, speak, heal and change our eyes is one of my favorite things, what he was showing me even more was what his heart is for prayer! Ill post a new blog about that soon!
But this month has been SO encouraging for me. I saw so much fruit this month. Sometimes I feel like I write about the good things and leave our the rough patches, but ah! This month I have just been seriously so filled up. The spirit of the Lord has been close and I’ve been so full of energy and joy and perspective. We’ve been setting time aside for worship and prayer and hanging out and campfires and meals and life together as a whole family at Fortress. There’s been PEOPLE around and life is happening, and I have just been able to see and celebrate without hindrance what God is doing daily:) 

I can’t get enough of this kid. This is Jerry. Get used to seeing him:)


abby_author ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abby Phillips is the Program Architect of Poetice International.


July 15th, 2014 Posted by Abigail Van Peursum

If you’ve known me in the last 2 years, you’ve known I’ve been struggling with this concept of home, belonging, community,IMG_9189 what what. Quite practically- as I try to figure out where I can keep my things and sleep, but also the other kind, as I split my time in Zambia and the States, from one community to the next. And you know how hard this has been for me! Seriouslyyyy. And the truth is that before I couldn’t see or feel or hear or believe in anything good in the hurt of the struggle, I am finally starting to see! I’m experiencing a change in perspective. I’m starting to slowly understand even a small piece of home that actually isn’t dependent on the people or place that surrounds me. He has been stripping me. Pruning me. Letting things fall that have filled me in a sense of security.  This is the real deal, raw life with God. Can He actually fill my sense of longing for this “home”? This is perspective I read with holy men in scripture and can only hope are a part of my testimony. But with the strength to preserve through times where I have had nowhere to reach but Him, He has been showing me in the last few weeks just how far He has carried me. He is changing my mind and experience of who He wants to be to me. And while I am starting to sink into relationships that surround me that aren’t fleeting, I’m seeing this change. That home doesn’t depend on them. (though it makes it easier!) But that He can be enough. He can be home.

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abby_author ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abby Phillips is the Program Architect of Poetice International.