CCPs leave a legacy in South Africa, Brazil
When Namhla "Nammy" Godlo describes her personality, she’s either “all in or all out.”
In 2006, Nammy entered her freshman year at the University of Johannesburg. Though she knew a little about Jesus, Nammy was highly skeptical about Christianity and was spiritually “all out.”
“I wasn’t interested and didn’t know a lot,” she shared. “I just didn’t really understand the gospel and why it even mattered.”
Focused on her plan to become a television producer, Nammy had only two goals for her life, fame and fortune.
That year, Nammy connected with some Campus Outreach student leaders who invited her to attend the annual Joint Winter Conference in June. During those few days, despite her initial doubts, Nammy surrendered her life and became “all in” for Christ.
“I remember feeling like, ‘this is amazing,’ but I knew it was a created environment. Since I was familiar with the entertainment industry, I knew the affect lights and music could have on emotion,” she said. “But a couple of days later, I was still convinced that what I heard was truth and a few days after the conference I prayed to receive Christ”
During the conference, four different Cross Cultural Project (CCP) teams of student leaders from the United States connected with four Campus Outreach student groups from South African universities. Through the Atlanta CCP, Nammy met Jessica Willis and the two formed a quick friendship.
“For some reason, one thing that really bothered me was that I thought Christians were lame or boring,” Nammy said. “We spoke about the gospel a few times, but I remember telling her that I didn’t want to give up certain parts of who I was, hip hop music was a big deal at the moment. She introduced me to a lot of Christian rap, she started letting me listen to her music.”
Through relationships with student leaders and the CCP, Nammy realized that God created her with a purpose and that the God of Christianity is deeply personal.
“Success, fame and fortune were front and center and I realized that (they) could all be for naught,” she said. “I could work in entertainment my entire life and it could be for nothing. I learned that life only makes sense when you place Christ in the center of it. That caused me to give up my purpose the way I understood it.”
Nammy’s faith continued to grow during college through a discipleship group, and after graduation, Nammy felt called to join the CO staff.
She spent four years on staff in Johannesburg and in 2015, Nammy moved to Brazil and joined the Belo Horizonte staff to help reach students as an English teacher through Gringo English.
During those six years on staff in two very different countries, Nammy believes CCPs can be successful in such distinct cultures because each project has a common thread: community.
“The way CCPs love on people is a big deal,” she shared.
As a student, Nammy experienced “gospel-community.” As a staff person, she said that same experience has impacted countless others.
“(CCPs) bring a lot of momentum with them and remind us that this is not just a thing that’s happening in small group, but God is working on a global scale,” she said. “I think building community is a big deal. It’s the way CCPs interact with each other and interact with staff, it shows a picture of the gospel.”
In South Africa, Nammy explained that CCP leaders add an element of diversity to the staff. Since they represent different countries and cultures, the visiting CO leaders are able to reach a student population who might not initially resonate with the full-time CO South African staff.
“Because of our racial past, it can be difficult to reach out to white students and sometimes CCPs can really help bridge that gap,” Nammy shared. “There was one girl in particular who connected with a CCP girl from Atlanta. Because she trusted the CCP girl so much, she was able to trust me. After she became a Christian, I was able to disciple her for the next couple of years.”
In Brazil, where diversity is celebrated, CCP leaders have a unique opportunity to engage with students. The country’s religious past continues to impact local perceptions, so Nammy believes Brazilian students need to see the gospel before they will actually hear it.
“A lot of people are resistant to and skeptical of the gospel. They want to know if Christianity really works. The experience of community is often their first context for the gospel,” Nammy said.
CCPs can help “break down perceptions that Christians are stuck up, are all about the rules, or they want to oppress people.”
Whether traveling to South Africa, Brazil or another CO location, Cross Cultural Projects can serve an important role in building relationships and introducing students to a deeply personal Jesus. A CCP had a profound impact on Nammy’s life and we are excited to see how God works in students’ lives this summer.