To Africa On a Lark: A Visitor Brings a Sharp Razor

Malawi Bk - PASSWe moved to Africa on a lark.

Mind you, we knew we were called to our life there. But, how we got there was nearly miraculous.

It was on our early, cool morning walk in September of 2002 when my wife cut through the maze of all my struggles and fears and prayed, “God, show us what you want us to do.” A mission work to Austria we founded been started and was floundering. I was frustrated with God’s planning. What was God doing in a work that I believed to be valuable to Him?

My wife wanted the Lord to show us where He wanted us to be.

I wanted Him to get us to Austria.

Malawi Bk - CoverI thought I had a great idea for the use of my gifts in short-term missions and I wanted the Lord to go along with it. I wanted the Lord to fix the Austria mission and my wife sought God’s guidance in a much bigger way.

Neither of us had any idea God’s answer would be sending us to the continent of Africa.

Thus begins the story of To Africa On a Lark. The book was written to be a readable primer for those preparing to cross-cultures on the mission field. It is not a text but a story of God’s gradual unfolding of his purposes for the Dehnert family. Through their life in Malawi, Africa the Dehnert family learned what it meant to bring a razor to open the presents that their Malawian hosts offered them.

Book by Editor of P&S

Kelly Dehnert, Editor of Pearls and Swine, has written a book about his family’s life in Africa as missionaries. The book provides helpful insights to engaging other cultures.

What others say about the book:

[To Africa On a Lark] is extremely readable, with an easy to follow flow. The stories are quite engaging…The overall theme of cross-cultural adjustment, with the “razor” image, comes through clearly. I hope that many will read, enjoy, and benefit from your engaging string of accounts.

J. Nelson Jennings, PhD – Editor, Global Missiology – English

As I read at times, I felt I was reading the travel log of a missionary tourist, the insights of a musical theorist, the confessions of a cultural imperialist, the wisdom of a cross-cultural missiologist, and the reflections of journalist investigating a mystery cult. [Dehnert] presents a childlike wonder as he speaks about strange and stranger things in a strange and beautiful land. It was great how he expressed his fears, weaknesses, and misconceptions as part of the path to a gradual awakening. Dehnert didn’t go to Malawi with an agenda and he loves people; I think that enabled him to learn so much. In the end the book comes across like a fun travel documentary with some sage-like wisdom thrown in.

Rev. Jay Stoms  – Missionary with National Christian Foundation, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Historians study something called ‘movement’ — how one people group becomes a different people group simply by moving into another people group. The Dehnert tribe is a perfect microcosm of ‘movement’ – and we are all better for it. This book would be helpful for anyone considering cross-cultural service. For everyone else, especially we ‘experts,’ this book is a helpful lesson in humility – learning again the limits of our learning!

Rev. Sam McDonald  –  Pastor, Faith Presbyterian – Brookhaven, Mississippi and Former Missionary to Malawi

Any time we minister and work in a cross-cultural context —in our churches, communities, or overseas — we have to be aware of the biases and prejudices we bring with us. Very often, almost always, we are blind to them and they keep us from sensing, learning, growing and serving because of our own pride and arrogance that we do not even know are there.

I think [To Africa On a Lark] would be helpful to anyone considering any type of meaningful engagement in a cross-cultural setting. Missions committees would benefit by the “insider perspective” it offers and could help them be more wise and thoughtful in the works they support and encourage. Also, anyone thinking about being called to missions would benefit by reading this.

Brian Carlisle – Former Headmaster and Missionary, ABCCA – Malawi, Africa

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