• Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in Liam (49)


A year to remember! So grateful for 2017! Grateful for all of you!

This has been a year to remember! Forgive me, but this is a bit of a rambling post! Please feel free to skip it if you get bored. I have used this post as an opportunity to re-collect many of the important people, events, places and happenings in 2017.

At the outset I want to say how mindful I am that the blessing of this year comes from the many wonderful people and communities that I am priviliged to be associated with. I have received much more than I deserve, and in many instances, been recognised for work that belongs to a group of persons, not just to me. In addition to this, I am also mindful that any achievement is only worthwhile if it can lead to service. My hope is that the work of this year bears fruit for my students, for the Church I serve, for the people of the world that God so loves, and in some small way may help us to honour and protect the dignity and sanctity of humans and creation. This is about Christ, and community, and undeserved grace.

As I was reflecting on this year I was struck by this beautiful quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's, 'God is in the manger':

'While we endeavor to grow out of our humanity, to leave our human nature behind us, God becomes human, and we must recognize that God wants us also to become human—really human. God raised his love for human beings above every reproach of falsehood and doubt and uncertainty by himself entering into the life of human beings as a human being, by bodily taking upon himself and bearing the nature, essence, guilt, and suffering of human beings. Out of love for human beings, God becomes a human being. This is about the birth of a child, not of the astonishing work of a strong man, not of the bold discovery of a wise man, not of the pious work of a saint. It really is beyond all our understanding: the birth of a child shall bring about the great change, shall bring to all mankind salvation and deliverance.' – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is In the Manger

I am truly grateful for this year! 

It included, my daughter finishing high school and getting accepted to study at Stellenbosch University! Courtney also got her drivers license this year. My wife, Megan, completed a brilliant Masters degree, and my son Liam, is going to Grade 5!

I continued so serve as the Chair of the Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology and the Director of the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology in the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do the work that I do. I truly feel like I am fulfilling my calling and spending my time and energy among magnificent people, doing interesting and worthwhile things - I am in my 'sweet spot'!

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • My book was published: Forster, D.A. 2017. The (im)possibility of forgiveness? An empirical intercultural Bible reading of Matthew 18:15-35. 1st ed. Vol. XI. (Beyers Naudé Centre Series on Public Theology). Stellenbosch, South Africa: SUN Press.
  • I was awarded a 2nd PhD from Radboud University in the Netherlands.
  • The South African National Research Foundation awarded me an NRF Rating as an internationally recognised academic researcher.
  • I was blown away to be awarded a 'Distinguished Teacher' award by the University of Stellenbosch in November.
  • In January I was priviliged to attended the 'African Doctoral Academy' to do some advanced training on ATLAS.ti (a powerful software package for qualitative empirical research analysis).
  • The Wesley Works project nominated me to serve on their Board as a 'Director at Large'.
  • I was also nominated to the executive committee of the newly formed, Methodist Theological Society of South Africa.
  • I continued to serve on the executive of the Global Network for Public Theology, and was appointed to the editorial board of the International Journal for Public Theology.
  • Being appointed as an Associate of the Allan Gray Centre for Values Based Leadership at the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business - thanks to my friend Prof Kurt April, he remains an inspiration, a source of encouragement, and blessing.
  • I had the rare and magnificent privilege of participant in the G20 meetings in Berlin this year (thank you Prof Peter Petkof). As with the World Economic Forum that I attended in 2015, this was a remarkable event. It was particularly interesting to see how prominent religion and ethics feature in global policy.
  • I was also appointed as a fellow of the Berlin Institute for Public Theology at the Humboldt University in Berlin. I am so grateful for Prof Torsten Meireis, a senior academic and senior colleauge who is a great help and inspiration in my academic development. I count it a great honour to work with Torsten.
  • In September I was asked to deliver the Stellenbosch University 'Form Lecture' on the topic 'Is forgiveness really possible in South Africa?'
  • The Graduation of my first PHD student at Stellenbosch University, Dr Anna Cho! I am so pleased for Anna - she wrote a magnificent disseration in Biblical ethics. We have also published an academic article together on this theme.
  • Another highlight was meeting Prof Jürgen Moltmann and having lunch with him while on his visit to Stellenbosch! Thank you to my friends Prof Julie Claassens and Prof Robert Vosloo, for making this event happen.
  • And, as a final highlight to the year I was awarded a place at the 2018 Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies a Pembroke college Oxford. A particular honour is that I was asked to deliver the deliver the “Fernley Hartley Trust” lecture (Methodist Church of Britain) at the Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies on Friday the 17th of August 2018 in Oxford. I’ll post more details in due course. I am already nervous! I am sure that Bishop Ivan Abrahams (President of the World Methodist Council) had something to do with this! Thank you Ivan.

Among my highlights in teaching and learning were:

  • Teaching a group of international Doctoral Students at Wesley House, Cambridge University (as part of a joint doctoral program between Wesley House and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC).
  • Teaching two courses (Masters in New Testament and another in Leadership and Ethics) at Radboud University, Holland.
  • The University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business MBA program (Ethical Leadership).
  • A seminar (with my friend Sean Temlett) to the University of North Carolina MBA cohort who visited South Africa - this is an amazing group of people! This year was the 2nd time that I was priviliged to join Sean and this group.
  • And then of course, my own wonderful students! This year I taught courses in Human Dignity; Public Theology; Modern Theology and Contemporary Theological Trends; Faith and Public Life; Youth and Moral Formation; Apologetics (which includes issues such a faith and science, theodicy, secularism etc.).


Travel and conferences. I travelled a fair amount in 2017 (16 trips, of which 8 were overseas):

  • Holland in January for the ordination and commissioning of our wonderful colleague Rev Rineke van Ginkel with whom I work in the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology - I recorded two videos while on that trip here and here. And here is a great interview that Rineke recorded to highlight her work in the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology.
  • I was back in Holland in May to teach at Radboud University. While there I also spoke at a conference in Leuven (Belgium) at the invitation of my friend Prof Kobus Kok. Those were two magnificent trips! It was also wonderful to have the time in the evenings (after classes) to just work on the completion of my PHD dissertation. I sent the final full draft for examination on the 14th of May when I departed!
  • I visited Germany from 5-23 June to do four things (see these videos here and here). I participated in the Summer School of Stellenbosch University, the Humboldt University and the Universities of the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal. I also participated in the G20 meetings in Berlin. Then I delivered a Public Lecture at the University of Bamberg (such an amazing medieval city)! Finally, I returned to Berlin for the launch of the Berlin Institute for Public Theology (of which I am a fellow).
  • In July I was in Cambridge to teach on the International Doctoral Program at Wesley House, Cambridge University.
  • My second last international trip for the year was back to Holland do some doctoral seminars and defend my PHD! That was an absolute blessing and joy, and all the more so since Megan travelled with me! This little fun video shows some of the preperation for the defence and a bit of riding around Radboud University's campus. And here is a video about the PHD defence and the award of the degree.
  • My final trip for 2017 was a wonderful visit to New York, and Princeton University, and then on to the American Academy of Religion in Boston where I delivered a paper and had various meetings with publishers, editorial boards and research projects.
  • Within South Africa I participated in the Methodist Theology of Southern Africa founding conference at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary in Pietermaritzburg, I spoke at a conference in Potchefstroom in honour of my Doctoral Supervisor, Prof Jan van der Watt, I spoke at numerous Churches and institutions around South Africa. And of course participated in many conferences at Stellenbosch University (many of which will lead to publications, such as the Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Violence conference, the Religious Freedom conference, the Historical Trauma and Healing of Memory conference etc.)


As I write this I am on leave. There is a great deal to look forward to in 2018! I am due for research leave in 2018 and have been invited to undertake some part of that research leave in Sweden at the University of Gothenburg's department of Religious Studies and Theology. I will also be spending some time in Oxford for the Oxford Institute for Methodist Theological Studies. And if my Humboldt Stiftung (Fellowship) is successful (please say a prayer!) I shall be spending some months in Berlin! It is my hope that Megie, Courtney and Liam will be able to join me for parts of those trips.

So, as the year ends, I want to give glory to God, express my love for my family, and give thanks to my colleagues and friends. I am truly grateful to share in this journey with each of you. May we continue to offer our selves, our resources, our passion, our training, our intellect, our creativity, and indeed our very lives, for the development of the common good, for justice, for peace, and for fullness of life.

I share my last little video for the year (recorded on the Campus of Princeton University) on the politics of forgiveness with you. May you be blessed at Christmas, revived, renewed, and replenished for what lies ahead.



A wonderful Father's Day!

I have travelled a little less this year than last year. It is just awesome to be home for Father's Day!

I got breakfast in bed. At Church they had a special focus on dads - Liam said he loves me because I take him to school on my Vespa sometimes! Ha ha!

After Church we came to the Strand beach for some lunch and enjoyed a rare day of perfect winter weather!

A perfect day! I am so thankful for my wonderful children. They are an immeasurable gift. I am equally thankful for my wonderful wife, Megan.


Please join us in giving thanks! A year after Courtney's surgery

On the 23rd of September 2010 Courtney went into to surgery have a tumor removed from her brain.  She is 100% perfect today! We would like to invite you to join us in thanking God for His wonderful grace and mercy to us! Please could you also pray for the doctors and nursing staff that treated her?  Please ask the Lord to bless them and continue to use them and all other persons in caring professions who do so much to bring hope and healing?  

As I drove to work today I was overcome with a sense of gratitude for this year that has passed. Courtney is healthy and perfect in every way.  What an immeasurable joy for us as a family.

You can read about her diagnosis and the journey from there to healing on the following link (you'll have to click through to the first post - the posts are arranged in reverse order).

On Friday's Megan and I continue to fast and pray for parents and children who are facing challenging times - we have maintained this discipline for the last 5 years since the birth of our son Liam who faced some challenges of his own. Today is a very special Friday indeed!

Thank you for sharing in our joy!


The courage to be a parent

Of all of the 'offices' I hold there is no office more important than being a father to my two children, Courtney and Liam.  Before I am a priest, before I am a scholar, before I am a servant to society I am a father.

I do not take this responsibility lightly.  Professor John Volmink once commented in a talk that "Just about anybody can give birth to a child.  Very few people have the courage to be a parent".  I tend to agree with his sentiment.  Having children and being a parent are very diffirent things!

Liam and Courtney are precious gifts from God.  I give thanks for them today.  Liam survived a very shaky start to life, having being born premature at 27 weeks.  Courtney survived a brain tumor at 11 years of age.  However, these are not the things that define these two precious people.  They are unique, special, gifted, beautiful individuals - created uniquely in the image of God.  Their lives lie before them, filled with endless possibilities and opportunities.  Of course there will be challenges, dissapointments and dangers along the way.

My role is to love them.  My greatest desire is to place within them a perspective of the world that says "The world is a good place.  God has made it good.  It is good to be alive.  I live in love and joy.  My life is full.  In fact it is full enough to spend it on others".

I will not lie to you, it is frequently a great challenge to create this space, this 'shalom', this fullness of life (John 10.10).  Sometimes I suffer under scarcity - I have a scarcity of financial resources, a scarcity of time, a scarcity of energy, a scarcity of love.  At other times I suffer under reality - we live in a poor nation, we live among people who are not 'good', we live in a society that values things more than people.

But, the great hope is that we know a different way!  That way is the way of a person, a person named Jesus Christ.  He is the one who established a Kingdom that is more powerful than the economic, political and social systems of the world.  His way is a way of grace, a way of acceptance, a way of inclusion, a way of transformation, a way of fullness, a way of abundant life.  His way is a way of love.

And so, the following quote from Stanley Hauerwas challenges me to be a parent to my children.  Pray for me. It takes couarage:

What must be said, and said clearly, is that the refusal to ask our children to believe as we believe, to live as we live, to act as we act is a betrayal that derives from moral cowardice. For to ask this of our children requires that we have the courage to ask ourselves to live truthfully.

- Stanley Hauerwas (via @invisibleforeigner's tumblr blog).

Today I celebrated with my friends Gary and Ilene whose daughter Madison was born - a healthy young princess!  I also remember my friends Zdzislaw and Heilie whose son Christopher passed away 4 years ago.

It is an immeasurable privelage, and responsibility, to be a parent.


The Sugar tastes nice because of the spice!

Last night we celebrated the arrival of 2011 with a few friends. Of course it does mean, at very least, that I shall be signing the wrong date on letters and forms for the next few months (it always takes me a little while to catch up to dates). But, it was good to have a chance to reflect on 2010 and look forward to 2011.

2010 is one of those years that will live on in my memory as 'the best of times' and 'the worst of times' (to misquote Charles Dickens)!  The sugar tasted nice because of the spice.

The very best of 2010 is the fact that Courtney is alive and well after being diagnosed and treated for a brain tumor. It is difficult to describe the panic and despair we experienced for those few weeks.  Somehow it seems like a distant memory, perhaps even a bad nightmare.  We thank God for bringing us all through and we anticipate such blessing in the year ahead!  How wonderful it is to know that she is well!

Another great highlight of 2010 was the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization that I had the privilege to be be a participant at, and also to be one of the staff. It was fantastic to see the delegates from all over the world arriving at the Cape Town International Convention Centre after almost three years of work.  The congress itself was an incredible experience in so many ways, not least of which are the many new friends that were made.

The publication of 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' was another very significant event in 2010.  It has changed my life in many ways.  I never expected that this little book (that I was writing this time last year) would do quite as well as it has. As a result of the book's success in South Africa, Asia and America I have had invitations to speak at conferences and events, I will be doing some traveling to Malaysia and America for that reason this year.  The royalties from the sale (which I signed over to the Unashamedly Ethical campaign) have made it possible for values and ethics to spread a little wider in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.  I have received hundreds of encouraging emails, stories of 'transformed lives' and testimonies of how God is using people to make a difference where they are.  I am truly thankful, and humbled, at what that book has achieved.  Of course the book would not have been possible without the incredible example and courageous faith of my friend Graham Power.  His life story is the thread of testimony that runs through the pages of the book allowing me to draw on texts from scripture, insights from Christian history, and practical ideas for ministry in the 'world of work'.

And, what would a reflection on 2010 be without some mention of cycling!?  It was the year of the Wines2Whales that I rode with my friends Greg Long and Philip Collier. In total I have done almost 4000 km's of riding (mostly offroad) on my trust Mongoose Canaan Team mountainbike.  I have had a few falls, but so much fun!  I feel fit and strong at the start of 2011 as a result!

In a few days time I shall be returning to work.  This year has many exciting events planned, quite a lot of travel (in South Africa and abroad).  So do look in here from time to time - perhaps there will be some 'uncommon inspiration' among the posts on this blog...

My life is filled with grace because of God's goodness.  It is filled with hope because of the possibility of doing some small things to make a difference in the world.  It is filled with joy because of my wonderful wife Megan and our children Courtney and Liam.  And, it is filled with excitement because there is so much left to see and do!

May 2011 be a truly blessed year for you and your family!


Don't cherish your pain...

This week Megan and I went for a session with a local play therapist. It too the form of an interview to prepare the therapist for some time that she will spend with our little girl Courtney.

After Courtney's diagnosis, surgery and treatment for her brain tumor we considered that it may be a good idea for her to have some help in processing what she has been through.

Cancer can be scary for a person of any age, can you imagine what a challenge it is for an 11 year old?

Also, we have picked up that Courts is asking one or two difficult questions and has been working through the events of the past three months.

It was a tough meeting - Megan was quite emotional. It broke my heart. We spoke about our own sense of helplessness as parents. How we had wished to be able to remove the pain, calm her fears, and take the hardship upon ourselves. We also spoke about the joy, and guilt, that we felt with her diagnosis. She is better! Yet, there are some who are not.

But, I do know that this is part of the process of dealing with the wound. It will be better. Nothing worthwhile comes without some struggle. We certainly experienced this, first hand, as we celebrated Liam's 4th birthday this week. Indeed, the first four years of his life have also had their fair share of difficulty.

Then, on Friday evening we visited with some friends. Etienne Piek, a close friend who currently heads up the Global Day of Prayer (he is leaving to work with 24/7 Prayer in London in a few weeks), was there. And so was my friend Cois, the head of Pneumatix (a media and arts training academy in Somerset West). The three of us were sharing some of our challenges around the fire. Etienne is having to be away from his family quite a bit. Cois has faced some challenges with the credit crunch. And I spoke about the session with the play therapist.

Etienne made a remark that has stuck with me. He said 'Be careful that you don't cherish your pain too much.'

These are wise words. I think if I understood his statement correctly he was warning all of us not to become too dependent upon the sympathy that comes from suffering, and the sense of 'righteous suffering' that we often feel when we face hardships. Indeed, I have experienced both in abundant measures. People have lovingly care, and I have felt sorry for myself and my family.

Of course the reality is that there does come a time when one must 'turn one's face into the storm' and sail forward. I feel that this December will be a time for me, and our family, to connect, have fun, and look beyond the challenges of 2010 towards 2011. I doubt that we shall ever be completely free from the hollow feeling that we felt as we went through the last few months, but I do know that we cannot allow that to stop us from enjoying the blessing of life in abundance! We need to be careful that we don't get stuck in the past, stuck in our struggle, and in so doing miss out on our glorious and blessed present!

I know that there are many others out there who have faced far greater struggle than we have, perhaps the death of a child, the suffering of a wife or husband, or the personal struggle with a terminal illness. How have you coped with the emotions, and fears, that go along with these events? I'd love to hear your input and feedback!


Happy 4th birthday to Liam the Great!

Today we gave thanks to God for the life of our precious big boy, Liam. You can read the posts about him here.  He is 4 years old today.  He was born very early (quite eager to get going in life, so he decided to come into the world 3 months early.  He was born premature at 27 weeks).  Our little Forster children are eager beavers, what can we say?!

When he was about a week old we took a picture of him with his little teddy bear.  He was the same size as the bear at that stage. Each year we have taken another picture of him with the teddy bear to show how he is growing.  Just look at this year's picture - Liam is such a big boy with big strong muscles!!!

Liam, one day you may read this - if you do mom and I want you to know how precious you are to us.  You are perfect in every way.  Your life is a gift from God to the world.  Use it wisely!  You can do so much to make the world a better place.  We cannot stop thanking God for you and Courtney.  You're both so special and unique.  We love you!

Have a blessed day my boy!  Tonight we can ride our bikes in the front garden!


Overcome with gratitude and grace - Courtney returns to school!

This morning Megan, Courtney, Liam and I gathered for a little prayer of thanksgiving and praise.  

Today Courtney went back to school - and she is well!  She has recovered from her surgery, the cancer is gone, and she is a happy, healthy little 11 year old girl!  We are so thankful!  

Our whole lives have been changed by this series of events.  We have a renewed appreciation of God's gracious love and care, and such confidence in the love and grace of our friends, many family, and our local Church.  Truly, we are overcome with gratitude and grace today!

It was two months ago today that our journey began (you can read the whole story as it unfolded in a series of posts here.  It starts with the most recent post, so you will need go back to the first post to pick up at the start of the story) - Megan went into hospital for a surgical procedure, and on the same day Liam fell ill. It was a very stressful time for us as a family.  Little did we know what would happen in the weeks to follow.  

That weekend I was speaking at a conference in Johannesburg when Megan phoned me to say that Courtney's eye had swollen closed as a result of a bad cold and sinus infection.  Courtney was hospitalized for the first time on Sunday the 5th of September.  The next morning when they did a CAT scan to see where the swelling was, and in there was any damage to the eye, they discovered every person's worst nightmare - cancer.

The doctor called us aside and told us that they had found a 3cm growth (unrelated to the eye infection), located in the 4th cerebral ventricle.  We were devastated!  But the love of family and friends, the support of our Church, and the care of our doctors gave us great hope and encouragement.  Our little girl spent a few days in hospital recovering from the infection and we waited for her brain surgery which eventually took place on the 23rd of September.  She spent more than 3 hours in surgery.  The doctor was very pleased with the procedure, but the following day he told us that what he had seen was not good news.  He felt confident that Courtney's cancer was malignant and that she would need some further treatment from a pediatric oncologist.  We braced ourselves for that.  However, the next day he called me (while I was still in the ICU with Courtney) overjoyed to tell me that the histology had shown that Courtney had an extremely rare form of brain cancer which is completely benign!  The surgery was a cure - she was free of cancer!

I cannot tell you the sense of relief and gratitude that we experienced on that day, and many times after that in the days that followed!

Well, after a few days in ICU, a couple more in the general ward, Courtney came home to recover.  She had a massive surgical procedure that cut into her brain - we knew that her recovery would be slow.  At first she simply slept (sometimes up to 22 hours a day), and when she was awake she was constantly vomiting.  Her mood was very low.  However, we prayed for her every day, encouraged her and did our best to be patient, supportive and loving.  With each day that passed the pain grew less, the nausea settled and her lovely little personality returned!

This morning as we prayed together she was just like the little girl who turned 11 in August - full of fun, excited about the opportunities of the day, a wonderful daughter who loves the Lord and has a zest for life.  She had a hair cut last week (just to be sure that the bit where her head was shaved was well covered for her return to school).  Megan had prepared to take her to school and help her to get her bag to class and get her settled.  But, when she arrived at the gate a number of Courtney's friends were waiting there to help her and welcome her in!

That makes my heart so glad!

So, first, let me say how grateful we are to all of you that prayed for us and have helped us through these trying times.  We are thankful that God's love has brought us through stronger and with more faith! Second, please continue to pray for our family - we certainly need it!  Please also remember Courtney in your prayers from time to time.  She has some catching up to do for school work that she has missed.  But more than that our heart's desire is that she will know just how precious she is to God and to us, and that her life is an immeasurable gift!


The journey is drawing to a close! An update on Courtney 1 October 2010

We cannot thank and praise God sufficiently for His unending mercy and grace to Courtney and our whole family!  

We love our girl so very, very much!  Her life is an immeasurable gift to us, and we know that God has such a special plan for our princess.  He has carried her through this last tough month, offering her courage and wisdom well beyond her tender age. We are so proud of Courtney - she has faced her fears, endured pain and uncertainty with courage, and through it all been a shining example of a young Christian woman whose faith is in our God!

Today, on the 1st of October, Courtney's journey with cancer has come to an end!!

This morning we took her back to Dr Wessels at the Somerset West Mediclinic for a final checkup and to have the 24 staples removed from her neck and head.  While she will bear the physical scar from this month on her body for some years, we are praying that God will completely remove any emotional scars there may be!  We know that she will soon return to her vibrant love of life!  The signs are already there!

Courtney is such a brave little girl. Her courage has blessed and inspired me. 

Sure, she cried a little today as they removed the staples, but in the end she managed a great smile!  We're hoping that she will return to school next week (for part of the day to start with, and then ease her way back in).

She received some medication to deal with the last of the blood and tissue that is in her brain and spinal fluid (this is a bit like a mild meningitis).  But this will clear and soon there will be no more headaches, vomiting or nausea.

All glory to God who not only creates in magnificence, but also re-creates, sustains and perfects His creation!

You can read about Courtney's journey through this illness to the miracle of healing by clicking here (or on the tag 'miraclegirl').

You may recall that our journey began about a month ago when Courtney fell ill with a cold.  This quickly spread into a sinus infection and later she was hospitalised with a swollen face and eye. Because there was some concern about the damage to her optical nerve (and to see where the infection was) she went for an MRI.  At that point it was discovered that she had a 3cm tumor in the 4th cerebral ventricle.  She was treated for the infection to her eye and her surgery was scheduled for two weeks later.  The operation was a great success and the neurosurgeon was overjoyed that he had completely removed the tumour. There was no damage to her brain at all.  

Whilst the worst was feared about the histology of the tumor, the best results returned a few days later!  Courtney's tumor was benign - she had a very rare form of brain cancer called a Choroid Plexus Papilloma (accounting for between 0.4-0.6% of tumors in that area of the brain). Even the doctor assured us that this was an answer to prayer since the Medulloblastoma (which is a much more agressive cancer) is the more likely growth in that region.  God in His grace had healed her!

All in all we have experienced anew the wonder of God's loving grace and power, it has been emphasized through the wonderful care and love of the body of Christ.  As family, friends and colleagues - and even people we don't know - have prayed for Courtney, sent notes, cooked meals, sent messages and loved us on behalf of Christ!

I want to encourage you about the certainty of God's love in every situation (as Romans 8.28 says).  Moreover, God's mercy and compassion is a source of great power and strength in such trying times (please read Lamentations 3.21-26 and Psalm 33.18-22).  

If you come upon this post in the years after October 2010; and you find yourself struggling with the diagnosis of a loved one, perhaps a child or a spouse, then please be encouraged by what God has done in Courtney's life.  Feel free to drop us a line.  It would be our joy to pray with you and offer you encouragement and care.

This unfortunate event has renewed our faith in God's power.  It has also caused us to have to reconsider our priorities in life!  Our children truly are our most precious gifts from the Lord - nothing is more valuable.  Work, ambition, material advancement, personal fulfilment, all of these things must rightly take their place behind the priority of creating a loving home to safely nurture our children towards their great destiny.

As you know both Liam and Courtney have had their fair share of health challenges in life - we thank God for all He has done in them and for what God wants to do with Courtney and with Liam.

Courtney's whole life lies ahead of her - please pray for our princess and ask God to bless and protect her in the many years that lie ahead!  Please pray the same thing for little Liam! May he too come to grow into all that God has destined him to be!

With inexpressible gratitude for God's loving grace,

Dion, Megan, Courtney and Liam.


What will matter - Michael Josephson

This morning I attended the Unashamedly Ethical Cape Town Community breakfast.  I would highly recommend that you consider joining the Unashamedly Ethical campaign! Once you have joined you can join your local community (I happen to belong to the Cape Town community), and you will be updated on events, breakfasts, training courses, and other benefits.

The speaker this morning was Professor John Volmink (the inspector General of Education for South Africa).  John is a good friend - we serve on a number of boards together.

He has an incredible testimony and life story.  He is the father of 10 children (5 are his own and 4 are adopted children).  He holds a Ph.D in Mathematics from Cornell University in the US (where he was also a Professor for some years).  He was previously the Vice Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu Natal (Durban).

The topic of John's talk was on the third commitment of the Unashamedly Ethical campaign - To do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but to look out for the interests of others.

It was so inspiring to hear him speak of the many choices he has made in his life - some were easy, and some were not.  Yet, in faith, and with a great commitment to social transformation, he has attempted to serve his family, his community and our nation.  At times this has cost him dearly, but his intention is to be a person of significance rather than a mere success.

Here are a few quotes from his talk that I put on my twitter feed.  They were a great encouragement to me.

It is important to do well in life, but it is far more important to do good

On the topic of discipline, and the courage to make courageous choices he said:

Christian love is not just an emotion of the heart, it is a victory of the will

I was also challenged by this quote about doing the best in the context you find yourself, with the unique gifts and abilities that God has given to you (PS.  I wrote a chapter on this in our book 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' - please see chapter 1 'The Big Question' for some practical tools and ideas to help you discover your unique design and purpose):

Rather be a 1st class version of yourself than a 2nd rate copy of someone else.

The audio from his talk will be uploaded onto the Unashamedly Ethical website within a few days.  So please look under the 'Local Community Event recordings' section of the web site.  Please also follow UE on Twitter and join them on facebook.

The poem below, from Michael Josephson, was a particular challenge to me - especially in our current situation with my daughter Courtney's health.  It is amazing how such an event helps one to rediscover what matters most.


Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.

So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end. It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought but what you built, not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when your gone.

What will matter is not your memories but the memories that live in those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.

It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.


Making memories

This weekend was a gift to our family! Since all travels have been halted until after Courtney's surgery we enjoyed a rare weekend at home without any commitments!

We slept in, went to the beach, rode our bikes in the back yard, went to Church and also drove through to beautiful Hermanus to see the whales.

Megie and I needed the 'space' and time to catch up with one another and chart the course ahead. We are both feeling bruised and a little weary. And of course our hearts are very tender for our little girl and what lies ahead for her (see this and this for details). However, we are encouraged and strengthened by God's unfailing love and mercy! We have experienced His love, mercy and grace through to kindness of so many friends and family.

Both Courts and Liam are getting healthy again. Liam may return to school after his bout of tonsillitis, pneumonia and ear infection (which all seem to be clearing). Courts won't return to school until after her surgery. However, she will participate in the school concert this week and also in the guitar concert on the 20th.

Thank you for all the love and support we've received!

This weekend was a chance to make memories. These are a few pictures from the weekend.


A quick update on Courts and Liam 10 September 2010

It's Friday! Megie, Courts, Liam and I were supposed to be in JHB this weekend for a family celebration - Megie's brother Craig and his fiance Kath are out from England as well.

Alas, that was not to be. But, at least we have the weekend together at home! Which is a rare event in itself! We're looking forward to some quality (and quantity) time together this weekend. I have taken a day's leave today to be at home with Liam and Courtney since Megie has to get back to her office to get some work done for the Lausanne Congress for which she works.

I have also cancelled my trip to Hong Kong next week. So, I look forward to being home with the family for the week ahead as well. I am truly grateful to my friend Graham Power who amended his INCREDIBLY busy schedule to fly to Hong Kong in place of me and spend two days there handling the speaking engagements that Michelle Harding and I were to do. Thanks Graham! Of course if the truth be told I know that our friends in Hong Kong would have loved to have Graham from the very start, but he is just so busy. I know that they will be incredibly blessed by him and our team on this visit.

OK, update time.

First, Megie, Courts, Liam and I want to say how grateful we are for all the messages of encouragement and support. We have been so blessed by your care. Friends have called, sent text messages and posted messages here on the blog and on facebook and twitter. We also had meals dropped off (yum, yum!) Thank you so very much!

The picture below was taken last year (some time towards the end of summer) at our local beach (Strand beach). Happy times, ice-cream, sunshine and sea! We're looking forward to getting back to these joy filled days soon!

Forster Family 2009.jpg

Yesterday one of Courtney's previous teachers (Mrs Bev Austen) dropped off two little books that her class of 3rd grade students made for Courtney. My goodness, these little kiddies have such a wonderful grasp of care and compassion.

Here are two pictures from the one book. Wonderful!

Courts get well book1.jpg

And here's another one with a little prayer.

Courts get well book2.jpg

So, our two little 'patients' are both doing better. Courtney will see her doctor today at 12.45 to check on the infection in her eye. I am pleased to say that the visible swelling is almost completely gone. She will still go for a CAT scan next week some time to be sure. But, she is in good spirits. As mentioned in a previous post she will not go back to school (probably until some time in early to mid October). However, since her surgery has been shifted to the 23rd she will get to participate in her school concert on the 13th and will still do her 'solo' in the guitar concert on the 20th. She is very excited!

As for little Liam - well, I think we just underestimated how vulnerable he still is to infection (even after all these years!) Having him at the hospital to visit Courts was obviously a little too much for his immune system. By Wednesday morning the doctor diagnosed him with tonsillitis, a double ear infection and pneumonia... But, I am pleased to say that he too is looking so much better. The fever has all but gone and we have him on a nebulizer and various medications. So, he too should be well by early next week.

My friend Cois sent me a very encouraging verse from scripture earlier in the week. It has been a source of great comfort.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. A Simple Guide for Behavior ~ Matt 6.34 (MSG).

Today is Friday, and that means that Megie and I will be fasting and praying again. This has been our spiritual discipline for the past four years (almost). As we pray and fast for children and parents. Today this journey takes us in another direction.

So, we appreciate all of the care, love and support! Indeed, we know that we are held within the loving and gracious hands of God; we hear His loving encouragement through your words, and feel his gracious power through your care.

God bless,