“Don’t let your dreams be dreams” – Jack Johnson

Dear World,

Below is a journey of mine that I’m not quite sure what to do with in terms of believing that God will provide. I struggle thinking that I definitely need to get the money from any pocket other than my own. However – I am also a teacher with minimal savings and a huge dream. This dream is to go to Oxford University and study a Certificate in Theological Studies (Apologetics Track) through Wycliffe Hall. I have come one step closer to this becoming a reality in that I have been accepted to read for this course at Oxford in October 2017. 

Please see my gogetfunding page at for more updates and fundraisers at:

https://gogetfunding.com/help-get-crystal-from-south-africa-to-oxford-university/

This is a very awkward, confused and anxious plea. I’m not too sure what to ask or how to ask and I have applied for countless scholarships which have sadly been declined (people do not want to give me money). I never wanted to get money through a way in which I was not responsible or working for it as it is my dream. Yet, I am prepared to fight for this dream.

God doesn’t speak to me like He did to Elijah – so I’m still waiting for that audible voice saying ‘Yes’. However – I do know that this desire has not died – although it has been dimmed by hopelessness a few times – it has steadfastly been there.

My aim is to cover as much as possible but at least my flights and or book costs would be a huge help and blessing. I am applying for a loan and am still seeking out smaller scholarships and funding to subsidize the cost. I am fully prepared to pay this back – I am fully prepared to earn this. I’m not sure what God is going to do – but I know that this is worth fighting for and I am choosing to trust that God can and will provide. This is me taking a step into making that happen (very unwillingly and fearfully) but it is a step in faith all the same.

Attached is the personal statement I wrote for Oxford which highlights aspects of the course and my reason for desiring it so dearly.

If all you have is prayer for me – it is much more than I could ask for. So I’m not sure how to do this and it’s a tension within myself – but if you have encouragement, prayer, or a small amount to help – I will greatly appreciate it.

Personal Statement:

In Charles Spurgeon’s “All of Grace”, he identifies that faith is comprised of three parts; first part – Knowledge, second part – Belief, third part – Trust. He emphasizes that knowledge must be the first part and that it is the most important aspect of faith, for it allows the other two aspects to flow from it. We have to know what it is we believe in order for us for to be able to believe it and to trust it. This contrasts a fairly popular way of thinking about Christianity i.e. blind faith. This concept is where knowledge is somewhat overlooked or rather skimmed through and belief and trust are seen as most important.

I had this faith once, I had a Christian cultural identity and Jesus was good and made sense. I found belonging and friends and safety. One day, when a friend of mine passed away at just twenty-seven years old – this blind faith cracked. The house that I’d built revealed itself to have been one that was built on sand. This didn’t just happen to me – I have seen the smokescreen evaporate around countless friends, family members, colleagues and fellow students. This concept of God failed, our knowledge of him proved to have been faulty; we had built Him up out of our own misconceptions and were ready to leave him at the altar we’d created. Jean Piaget describes the moment learning occurs as “disequilibrium”; meaning that in the moment of confusion or chaos – that is when real learning takes place. This disequilibrium; the spiralling out of blind faith into sheer doubt was a dark road. One that I feel is quite easily avoidable. The simple: “If you just believe” begs the question, “What do we believe?” My anguish and confusion has led me to seek Jesus out in truth, as He is. Knowledge is not just the moment we hear the gospel for the first time, it is deeply rooted in knowing and understanding the heart of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This knowledge is continuous, therefore our seeking is endless. My heart breaks for those who have to travel on my road. It bleeds for those whose blind faith is weak and hinders depth. In Husserl’s phenomenology the crux of this theory is that we inevitably see with subjectivity, we (the subject) will always see the object as it appears to us, not necessarily as it is. In as far as possible, I believe that who God is, is not just as He might appear to me – for he appears to each of us differently – He is truth. A truth I want to seek to see and know the depths of. A truth I want to understand better so that I might learn to communicate and share it better.

This truth – this is the reason why I want to enrol in this course. This truth which I have fought to find, is one I want to be able to help others seek. I don’t want to give it to them; rather I want to help equip them and there is no better way to do that than to first equip myself with this knowledge. This in combination with my hopes, dreams and desires has led me to have a burning passion to learn as much as I can about this God, so that my house may no longer be built on the sand, but rather on the rock itself.

With everything in me all that I actually know about myself is this: my heart burns at the sound of theological debate; it is brought to life by seeking and questioning and it aches with desire to know more so that it can love better. I would love the opportunity to allow this course to edify my heart and soul on a deeply and profoundly personal level in order for me to be able to communicate this truth better as I learn about it more.

Details for contributions and queries can be found under the contacts tab. A post on the breakdown of finances will be available soon.

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A Hope deferred

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

So I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to post this because letting people in kind of sucks. The world doesn’t necessarily take the time to read everything – which means that even in our best attempts to be real and open and honest – they remain exactly that, mere “attempts”.

I believe that this generations biggest wound is one of disappointment. There are too many options and none all at the same time. When we try and fail – there is an audience watching too. This means that added to the deep disappointment is a shame, a guilt or a humiliation.

I’ve had a journey over this passed year in which a deep, dark and desolate dream which I had chosen to leave untouched for fear of it failing was reignited. The dream is to study an Undergraduate Certificate in Theological studies at Oxford University. This dream has come closer and closer – with the first step of applying allowing me to be accepted and then a long hard journey and some major fundraising and miracles taking place slowly but surely over the last few months have helped make this dream a reality.

However, from where I now stand – I have pretty much spent all said fundraising money in applying and reapplying for a visa. And then doing it all over again. To still have no visa.

Hurdles keep popping up and all of these glorious open doors that kept opening are now shutting in my face, quite aggressively.

What type of God would essentially give a dog a bone – only to lead it to sinking sand where it will inevitably simultaneously get stuck – and also not get the bone?

Christians can have this faulty mentality that doubting is wrong. Why? Isn’t the bible full of the irreconcilable differences between the character of God and the suffering of man?

I made a choice to make my journey public and unlike social media relationships that end abruptly (once you’re invested) and give zero inclination as to how or why that happened – I need to be honest and transparent in this moment.

This moment is possibly more defining than the beautiful miracle moments when God comes through because this moment is real, it’s sore, it’s confusing and it’s painful. It almost makes my God look like a fool. How did the miracle just end?

So somehow I want to make a case for Him again. But I can’t because I’m so blinded by my hurt. Yet.

The love of friends – this is the hope of glory. The way I have been ruthlessly shouted at by my special friends when I have uttered my giving up – is what has lead to release some anger, fear and bitterness.

This is better than the happy clappy story where it was easy. This is somehow going to be more glorifying to my God even though I have no idea how that is seemingly possible. I doubt his goodness and kindness and heart a bit now – but I don’t doubt his ability or rather capability for doing the impossible (which at this rate would be softening my heart).

The reality is simple: I can still go.
But I don’t know if I am just yet. My problem is that being told that God will make a way for me to go or that he will miraculously open closed doors – is not necessarily false – but it’s not necessarily true either.

What if I don’t go? What if the dream doesn’t happen? Is God then not good ? Were his miracles then malicious?

Doubt your doubts. Is it possible that maybe good can come from this even if it is not exactly how I’d like it to look? Would it still be possible for it to be called good? How about better?

I don’t trust the plan. I didn’t hear a yes or a no. God isn’t absent – just silent. I’m definitely confused – but this hasn’t shaken the dumbfounding hope of purpose. This can’t shake the fact that I know even more than I did in the beginning that I want to be a thoughtful, honest, transparent Christian – because surely, surely, this God is bigger than my pointed fingers against Him.

Surely. For there will always be pain, there will always be fear. With or without God.

I’m going to choose for it to be with Him – despite my own pride. Despite how badly this might turn out for me – hope is the only counter to our generations cries against disappointment.

Imagine for a second – if we all hoped a little more even if it didn’t turn out so well – the freedom to hope and yet fail is what I think I really need. The worst thing about hoping is that we could be wrong. Is that so bad?

“But let your hopes outweigh your fears” – Never Alone, Jon Foreman

I think that the crux of why I am pursuing a dream, specifically a dream in learning so much more about the God I have seemingly been disappointed in – is because something in me has refused to accept the reality around me. Something in me has tasted and seen so much more in a way that words can’t quite articulate – but I want to find these words. I want to learn how to use them in ways that can add meaning and value to my doubt and confusion. What I have realized through this process during these last few months, has been something quite ironic. Despite myself and my criticism– hope has always won. It has masqueraded itself as though it was disappointment, as though it was logic. However – can you imagine fighting so long against those things? It’s been exhausting and I have discovered that this whole time (to have continued fighting this long) I have, in actual fact been fighting for something. I have been fighting for hope. Hope emerged all the while I have been fighting something, fighting against this God that has hurt so many, fighting against Christians who have hurt so many (myself included, I must heartbreakingly admit) and it hurt me more, BUT, hope still won – and not because of me.

I want to thank everyone for the hope you have helped me fight for. The hype of this will fade of course, but the truth of God seeing me and hearing my cries, the same God who prompted and moved hearts to message me, hug me, come to an event of mine, donate clothes to me, help me organize an event, host an event, cry with me, donate actual money to me, this same God has used community far and wide to heal wounds, reveal truth and remind me of the crazy, adventurous life I can lead.

I am immensely grateful that this journey has also been public – because “you would not believe it even if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5). I had to witness it alongside you, even still, I don’t believe it most days.

Now for some practical business. I officially only need R 55 000 left to cover my tuition costs. No – I have not got money for a Visa and flights – but, God. So end of that story. It will all be okay! My plan here is to sell my car and to continue selling my clothes and other belongings. I have surety with the University so I am in and my contract is still being signed. The wonderfully scary bottom line is this – I am going! WHAT! I know that God has got me so whatever that might look like (a glorious tax refund or an amazing job) – He’s got me.

Banking Details:

CC Hartwig

FNB Cheque Account: 62522127259

Branch code: 250108

Reference: Oxford

Email: crystal.c.hartwig@gmail.com

SWIFT CODE: FIRNZAJJ

“And you will laugh like there is hope in your story” – Ben Howard

Dear World,

Every time I have found myself being traumatized by the impossibility and magnitude of this dream – there has been a profound moment of encouragement. To be honest – I did this out of fear – not faith. And God has proven himself to be “faithful even when we are faithless” (2 Timothy 2 vs 13).

There have been opportunites for accommodation and copious amounts of love and support from people I have never even met. I am in awe of the love that has moved them. Thank you for imparting and investing time and hope into my little scary steps towards my future.

I have some new information to share with you with regards to my financial situtation! It has substantially decreased in size as I have received a scholarship for reduced funds through the John Wycliffe Needs Based Scholarship to the              value of : £6500.

FINANCES FOR OXFORD 2017/2018

CRITERIA

RANDS

POUNDS

Course and college R 290 587, 50 £23 105 – 6500 = 16 605
Estimated living costs 218 750 £12 500
Flights R 9000 £514, 28

Tier 4 Visa

R 9 327.50 £533
WHAT I HAVE:
Donations R12 757,50 £729
GEPF/ savings R 100 000 £6000
 Anonymous Donor  R90 000 £5000
HAVE: R 202 757,50
TOTAL NEEDED:  £30 152, 28 – 11 729 = 
 GRAND TOTAL: R 322 407, 40

£18 423, 28

In summary:

I, in essence need the university and college value more than anything else. That has brought me down to needing a total of:

R 290 587, 50 – R 106 380 – R90 000=R 94 207, 50

The scary part of this is that I need to prove that I can get the R 184 207, 50 by 30 June 2017 otherwise I will have to forfeit my place. SO please pray for me for my loan endevours and fundraising capabilities!

Thank you everyone! I am overwhelmed with gratitude!

Please look at my gogetfunding page at https://gogetfunding.com/help-get-crystal-from-south-africa-to-oxford-university/ to help via PayPal if you are an international reader of my blog!

Thank you so much for the support!

What’s the damage?

Dear World,

I am overwhelmed by the deep love and ridiculous amounts of support and encouragement that I have received – thank you for every voice note, every message, every like and share and hug and contribution.

The financial side is so awful but it is the reality and the reality is that I have decided to go – and a loan of R 250 000 is what I am in the process of convincing the bank I deserve. Haha. SO if I do not raise the necessary funds – I am going with my loan of a larger value in hand! Alas.

For the sake of transparency and welcoming you into the crevices of my journey – I am going to give a detailed breakdown of my funds and how I plan on achieving my goals.

The costs I need are as follows:

Course fee:

£ 23 105 = R 404 337, 50

Living costs:

£12500 (Estimate) = R 218 750

Tier 4 Visa:

£533 = R 9 327, 5

Flights

£ 514, 28 = R 9000 (return)

An excruciating total of : R 641 415

WHAT I HAVE

My savings:
R 11 000 (Private retirement fund)
R 86 000 (Government pension fund)
R 3000 (Savings Account)
R 5880 (Current Donation Status) (FROM JUST ONE DAY – INCREDIBLE)
TOTAL I HAVE ACCUMULATED: R 105 880.
How much I still need: (Laughable but still – there is hope!) R 535 535.

I am still waiting to hear back about two grant opportunities through my Rotary District (Oxford District matches what they raise) and through the Needs Based Scholarship that Wycliffe Hall offers- I should hear back by the end of this week. So there is quite a bit of hope there. My investigations into further funding is ongoing – any information with regards to this will be truly appreciated!

On the Tier 4 Visa, I am still investigating this, but, what I have discovered is that I can work for 9 hours a week so I am hoping to cover living costs this way and essentially cover course costs through the loan and crowdfunding.

In the event of returning the funds – I am praying this will not have to happen – my plan is to pay everything back. So – in the event – that the Lord says no – I will humbly and obediently pay back all the money – that will sadly only be able to be made known on my blog and Facebook pages which means contributors will need to tell me how much they paid in order for me to return the funds – but so far I have only had one anonymous donor so I can pay back the others if all else fails.

I am infinitely grateful for your love and support – my heart is so happy by the love I have received and I pray that this will be an encouragement to everyone contending for their own dreams; in that you will know that people love you and they are so willing to get involved in helping you achieve your dreams!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!