Called to Europe

written by Anne Marit Viljoen

She describes herself as ‘just a girl from a township in Soweto who loves Jesus.’ Kagiso Mthethwa, 28, from South Africa joined the 9th Transform missions conference in Athens, Greece, in July. Under the theme ‘Unleashed’, close to 150 people gathered from five continents and 30 countries, for a week of training and equipping for missions. Previous locations have included Rome (Italy) and Barcelona (Spain), with the aim of being messengers of Hope to the Mediterranean region. Most of the participants went on outreaches after the conference; some in Greece, others to Albania, Romania or Turkey.

Some may come once, and return the following summers, gripped and changed by the impact of the experience. Kagiso is one such participant. A friend had told her about Transform, and in 2018 she had joined the conference in Spain and the outreach that followed. “It made such a massive impact on my life. I didn’t know what to expect but all I know is that I went; I’ve never looked back and I just had to return in 2019.”

Kagiso grew up in a Christian home. “Yet there was a time in my youth that I decided to follow Jesus in such a way that I applied His word in my everyday life rather than being a ‘Sunday Christian’. Our family has been through so many tough times, there is no way one could deny that God’s hand was in every situation.”

Kagiso, who has recently completed her BA in Industrial Organisation currently works as an intern at her local church, where she is also involved in the young adults’ ministry and the worship team. In the afternoons she is ‘tent making’ as an au pair.

However, Kagiso’s involvement in Transform came about partly as a result of being involved in a missions-minded church, where she and her family learnt and responded to the call of mission on their lives. She only discovered recently that her grandfather had been a missionary. “Transform was actually the result of a sequence of events that I believe only God could have orchestrated. I quit my secular job in 2017,out of faith that God would provide me with another.My CV had been rejected multiple times and I was at a loss with what I was going to do next. A friend of mine gave me a flyer for MMT (OM South Africa’s Mission Mobilisation Training) and I decided to go. MMT literally changed my life.Everything fell into place and suddenly it all made sense. It was time to answer my own call from God.”

Kagiso went on to share about her first summer in Spain, and how she could not forget what Rebeca Lampaya, leader of OM in Spain,had said in her country orientation: “Spain is the country where missionaries die. And it’s not a physical death. It’s a death of their will and their desire to continue as missionaries because Spain is one of the most difficult countries to share the gospel.” It shattered Kagiso’s heart, sensing the pain behind Rebeca’s words. In 2019, she returned to Transform and found it to be a confirmation that God really was calling her to Europe.

“Last year’s outreach on El Camino in Spain, sharing Christ with people walking the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela, was so impactful that I decided to do it again this year. I’d say that if you want to see exponential growth within your missional journey, go to Transform. But do so with the expectation that God will and needs to work within you and break your heart for what breaks His.”

“Transform has literally opened my eyes to the condition of Europe and how much it needs Jesus. I’ve learnt, to my surprise, that first world countries are often more destitute when it comes to a spiritual awareness than let’s say, African countries. One can deal with beliefs in false gods, superstition, ancestral worship and urgent need for essential resources, but Europe? Europe doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of a spiritual realm and people are comfortable and feel there is no need for a saviour. How does one speak into that space? That’s what surprised me the most: how unreached Europe is.”

God brought a young girl thousands of miles to show her that poverty of spirit can be found even in the streets of a developed area like Europe. He showed Kagiso that He can transform every willing heart who beats with a longing to know and be known by the King of Kings.

The impact of Transform continues to powerfully influence those whose lives it touches – not just this year, but in future Transforms to come. Please check the website and social media for more stories and information about the next conference and outreaches. And, most important, please pray that God will send people, maybe you, to reach the lost in Europe.

Kagiso (South Africa) at Transform. Over 140 people from 30 different countries attended the week-long conference in Greece. Photo by Rebecca Rempel