Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Quist Family: A Secretly Incredible, “Normal” Family

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From Jeremy: I want you to meet Kevin and Christina Qust. They are living better stories in a secretly incredible way. They call themselves normal, but from the interview you will find they are anything but. This is their story of moving their family to South Africa. If you want to learn more about the Quists, you can follow Christina on Twitter or Kevin on Twitter and follow their blog.

JS: Christina, you and your husband, Kevin, left your comfortable homes and lives here in the United States to move to South Africa. Tell me more about what your life was like before the move.

Christina: We were both teachers at a private Christian high school. Kevin taught math and I taught mass communications and English. In addition to teaching, Kevin also coached the varsity basketball team. My extra-curricular activities included leading a Bible study with 24 girls in it.

We have 5 children, ages 17, 15, 13, 11, and 11. They kept us incredibly busy. All of them played sports at some level, some on elite traveling teams. And of course Kevin and I volunteered to help coach as well. Add on to that driver’s education, homework, friends, church activities, etc.

Our lives could be easily described as busy and hectic. Calendars ridiculously full.

The Quist family.

JS: And then you decided to up and move to South Africa to live a different life. What happened?

Christina:  Our souls had been discontent for about 4 years. Restless. Displaced. We were doing everything we were “supposed” to be doing, yet doing nothing at all.

We would read about underground churches in China, people who were martyred for Jesus and become so jealous of their faith. They knew Jesus in a fierce, life-giving way. We knew Him in a comfortable, 90-minutes on Sunday way.  Surely He is worth more than this!

So, we read and prayed and pleaded and wrestled and on a whim, e-mailed Living Hope to see if we could visit South Africa for 2 weeks. Turns out, they were looking for someone to start a sports ministry and to work with teens through discipleship. It seemed like more than just a coincidence that they needed someone to do what we were already good at.

When you see the hurt there, it is palpable. It is also mixed with the residue of apartheid. Racism and bitterness are thick. That is what drew us to South Africa – the injustice of it all. These people, are forced to live in one sector of a beautiful city, within shacks made of tin, no running water, house built upon house, crime and sickness rampant.

They live and work next to people who live in opulence and wealth.

It is heartbreaking. We wanted to make every effort we could to get there, so we could deliver the message that they are worth more than they could imagine. Even if we deliver that message to just one person, it will be worth it.

JS: So you went to South Africa. Saw a need. And then found yourselves wrecked by a heart broken for a group of people. What did you do next?

Christina: So, we made some fledgling fundraising attempts, sold everything that wouldn’t fit into a suitcase and moved in with my parents to save money. We moved into their 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house for one year (That, my friend, is another story!).

And in time we bought 7 one-way tickets to Africa.

We’ve been here a little over a month. We are still learning to drive on the left side of the road and cook using the metric system. When we go to Masi for a game of pick up soccer and I see my kids playing with kids with no shoes and dirty feet, I think, this is how we should have been living all along.

On many levels, we need Africa more than it needs us. It has been very difficult and painful at times, and other times, so confirming. One of our favorite Bible passages that propelled us into action is Isaiah 58:10.

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

We’ve spent the first 19 years of our marriage trying to polish the exterior of a shallow faith. We really want live the next 19 being totally spent. That would be living.

JS: Tell me more about the specifics of your ministry.

Christina: We came to work with a Christian non-profit called Living Hope. We read about them in a book called The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.

We are located near Cape Town, South Africa.  Essentially, we are working in a local township called Site 5, or Masiphumele. There are about 45,000 residents here. 1 in 2 males are unemployed. The latest estimate is that 28%  of the township is HIV positive.

Our main avenue for outreach is through sports. Kevin hopes to establish a grass roots sports ministry, especially directed toward the hard to reach male teens.

I would like to work alongside some of the Living Hope staff to develop relationships with the teen girls, who face a very difficult life. Skills building, tutoring (education is abysmal) and parenting classes are a few of the ways.

Right now, we are both just trying to develop relationships and trust within the community.

JS: Do you ever get overwhelmed or scared by the work?

Christina: Yes, we do. We heard the very clear call of God. So we followed. For us that means we came with only 30% of our financial support raised. It means dealing with an unsettling crime rate. It means putting our oldest son on a plane back to the U.S. for his senior year in high school.

You know what keeps us going? Two months ago, I never would have pictured our life like it is now. We spend time daily in a local township. We see people, not just faces living in poverty, inside a tin shack. We see them. And they are admirable. And lovely. And full of life. And they have given us our life back.

For the first time in a very long time, we are living. It feels good.

JS: Your story is truly inspiring. Thank you for being the people to sell all you have and move to South Africa. Thank you for caring about these people you see. Thank you for sharing the gospel of Jesus with them.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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12 Replies

  1. This is beautiful! I love the verse and the thought that this is how you should have been living all along–it’s powerful and challenging for all of us. Thank you for the ministry you’re doing for our Lord!

  2. I love it too. Louie Giglio likes to talk about the purpose of door holding. There are those that are unable to walk through the doors of our church for whatever reason. Geography. Socio-economic status. Ignorance. Stubborness. A door holder in the kingdom, takes the door to the people who need it. This story represents this idea.

  3. I am struck by how brave these people are.

    Thank you for the introduction, Jeremy.

  4. It takes guts to sell everything, move in with your parents who only have 1 toilet, and then move your entire family to South Africa.

  5. Incredible and beautiful story. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. BrinaHarwood

    As a mother of 4, their sacrifice is pretty stark. What kind of faith does it require to take your children to a place that has the potential to cause them harm? What kind of blessing will result in taking your children to a place that can turn their world upside down and simultaneously change the world at large? Though they may not recognize it, they are amazing!

  7. I’ve had the same question. My guess is that they view it as an opportunity and that the kids have bought in. At some point you realize that safety isn’t a fair trade for doing nothing. When we choose safe instead of a purpose that matters, we are worse off.

  8. DMarquis

    I love The Quist Family! We all miss you but love seeing you in Gods will!

  9. Kris

    I met the Christina back in May of this year. After hearing her testimony of how God has challenged and beckoned them to a higher calling is truly amazing and admirable! Their family has truly inspired me and I talk about their work with anyone when given the opportunity. You are blessed and prayed for often!

  10. Kris

    I hate it when I don’t proofread what I just typed…”I met Christina back in May of this year…

  11. I haven’t even met them and I am blessed. Thanks for sharing, Kris.

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