MEET THE MISSIONARY TO AFRICA WHO ‘BREAKS THINGS’ FOR LIFEWAY
Written by: Aaron Wilson for the employee newsletter at Lifeway Christian Resources
For Kristin Freudenthal, working from anywhere means opening up her laptop in one of the most impoverished regions of South Africa, where several of her neighbors live without running water and electricity and have never even seen a home computer.
Freudenthal serves as a missionary in Jeffreys Bay, a surfing community on the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, where she helps children who are stuck in a multi-generational cycle of poverty. Originally from Hendersonville, Tennessee, Freudenthal worked full time for Lifeway for nine years before following God’s call overseas. She now works part time and remotely as a contract worker for Lifeway’s quality assurance testing team.
The Lifeway Hub recently interviewed Freudenthal to learn more about the Kingdom mindset that drives her work for Lifeway and her ministry on the South African mission field.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN MISSIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA?
I was working at Lifeway when God started to use our resources to draw my attention to areas of my life that needed His healing. At the same time, my home church was encouraging members to look for ways to allow God to use what He had taught them to bring others to Christ.
The combination of these lessons uncovered a fire in me I’d forgotten about—a desire to help people understand who God really is and how much He really does know and love them. So, while I was working full time at Lifeway, God not only worked to heal a lot of hurts in my heart, but to make a way to use that healing to help others.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN JEFFREYS BAY?
When I first came here, I found my place serving at the primary school working with the staff to create a computer-learning program (with only four computers in a tiny closet of a room). I’ve been working with this ministry ever since and have been blessed to see it grow into a full computer lab teaching typing, robotics, problem-solving, and basic computer skills. Having access to technology is a dream for these kids, so learning to use a computer is something they normally would never be able to do.
I also use this class to teach the gospel by adding The Gospel Project Kids videos into each lesson (with permission from Lifeway, of course). I’m currently working to duplicate the program in some of our other ministries, focusing now on our special needs school.
I also teach a class for older students called Life Orientation to help them learn life skills to be a part of the community.
I use every subject as an avenue to talk about God. If we’re learning about careers, I talk to them about what their purpose may be and why God created them so uniquely. If we’re talking about drugs and abuse, I talk to them about how God can heal you from heart wounds and about how valuable people are to God. If we’re talking about puberty, I talk about sexual integrity and why we need to value our bodies as temples.
My favorite is the last term of the year when I talk more about Christian topics, for example: How do you know you’re a Christian? Why should we believe the Bible? How do we know Jesus was telling the truth? It’s when I give my personal testimony, share the gospel clearly, and give a salvation message. Last year, I had several kids begin to ask important questions during this term, and I had one child tell me they prayed the salvation prayer!
WHAT IS THE RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPE LIKE WHERE YOU SERVE?
There are a lot of “Christian” beliefs here, but they’re mixed with a religious belief called “African” or “Traditional.” To put it bluntly, it’s a lot of ancestral worship combined with their favorite parts of Christianity.
There’s also a great deal of the “angry God” perspective. Many of the cultures I work with believe they’re part of Old Testament curses and are destined to fail and live in poverty. I spend a lot of time explaining to people that God knows them personally, cares about them, and is not sitting around waiting to punish them if they don’t do the right chant or visit the Sangoma for healing or whatever.
WHAT ARE ECONOMIC CONDITIONS LIKE IN JEFFREYS BAY?
Jeffreys Bay is a town located in the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. Like many other provinces, it is dealing with overpopulation and an influx of immigrants coming from the collapse of nearby Zimbabwe.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS YOU’VE SEEN GOD AT WORK?
I help in various ministries around town where I deliver food parcels or do prayer ministry in the “streets” of the communities. We also work to connect those in need to people who have the resources to help.
So in some cases, it’s as simple as seeing a crippled woman finally get a wheelchair or a fire victim get a new place to live, seeing an HIV-positive person finally believe they matter enough to start taking their medicine, driving a pregnant woman to the clinic to get the medical care she needs, or stepping in to tell an abused woman she matters and there are options if she wants to get help—and then slowly watching her make that brave decision.
It’s a lot of one-on-one moments trying to build relationships with people and constantly pointing them toward God. It’s a very difficult journey, but so rewarding when you see even one out of a thousand understand who God is.
SWITCHING GEARS, WHAT DO YOU DO FOR LIFEWAY?
I started at Lifeway in Customer Service and ended on the quality assurance testing team just before I moved to South Africa. I access Lifeway on VPN every night of the week. My ministry work typically ends around 3 p.m. our time, and I’m online around 4 or 5 p.m. When there’s a live simulcast event, however, I join for the full event and test while our customers are watching, reporting any issues I find quickly so they can be corrected before a customer sees it.
YOU’VE REFERRED TO YOUR TEAMMATES AS, “THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF BREAKING THINGS AT LIFEWAY.” THAT’S AN INTERESTING DESCRIPTION! CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU MEAN?
Haha! It’s my job to search everything digital with Lifeway (websites, emails, apps, etc.) and try to find any issues before our customers do. My goal is to make the customer’s experience as smooth as possible.
I know how hard it can be to find the resources you need when you need them, especially since I live and work in a country where books are treated as “rich people items” and Bible study videos are like pure gold—even in the wealthy communities. My focus is making sure customers can easily understand our websites and apps so they can find the answers and resources they may need in order to hear from God.
I know personally the power of our products. They were, quite honestly, the catalyst for my current life. If it had not been for me devouring our Bible studies from the display rack in the Customer Service department, I wouldn’t be where I am today, or even who I am today. I just want to be a small part of how God is doing that for others.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I LOVE the people I work with, from my bosses, to the developers, to the random employees I email by mistake looking for help with issues I find. Everyone is on the same team.
I love finding things that could potentially cost Lifeway money or prevent people from finding something they need. And I love, love, love that my coworkers value and understand the life I live here in South Africa.
I don’t struggle to explain why I choose to live this way when I talk with my Lifeway friends. They get it. They understand more than some why we work so hard at the things that we do. Because they do it for the same reason—to spread the gospel and grow God’s Kingdom!
Written by Aaron Wilson, Corporate Communications editor, Lifeway