Author Archives: karissasouthafricastint

About karissasouthafricastint

Hi friends and family! For those of you who may have not met me yet, my name is Karissa Woods and I am about to embark on a year long journey to live among the beautiful people of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I am a recent graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. I love science and medicine, but more than anything I love people! Over the past 4 years at the University of Arizona I have had the wonderful opportunity to be involved in a ministry called CRU (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) and I have been so incredibly blessed by the relationships I have developed with the students in the ministry and the many ways the Lord has stretched me and grown me over the course of my undergrad years. As I was entering my senior year and praying about what steps I was going to take next into the future, I realized I had so many plans of my own, but hadn't given them to God. As I really began to pray about this, I could feel the Lord really putting on my heart that is was time to really trust in Him and give Him my future in faith knowing that there is no other place I would rather be than within His will. At this time the Lord began to put on my heart a desire to go to Africa and the doors began to open for my year long internship to South Africa. Crazy as it seems, the Lord also opened a door this past summer in June to go to Uganda with a medical team. It was a life changing trip and really a defining point for me where the Lord revealed the heart He has given me to serve in South Africa and really devote my time to His full-time ministry. Over the course of the next year we will be living in Port Elizabeth and ministering to the students of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). Our prayer is that students may come to have a personal relationship with their savior and would know how to tangibly share the gospel with those around them. I am so excited for the wonderful journey God has in the coming year and I would love it if you would join me! If you would like to hear more about my trip or have any questions please feel free to email me at Also, if you would like to partner with me to reach the students of Port Elizabeth, SA you can give online at . I look forward to all that lies in the year ahead and I am truly blessed by all of your love, encouragement and support! You are all a blessing!

How Sweet the Sound….

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord”

Psalm 98 :4-9

Do you ever just have one of those days that you just cant help but smile and skip along with a little bounce in your step? That is exactly how it has felt lately as it seems the Lord has been deeply rooting joy in my heart by allowing me to appreciate the little things more and more…so much of which He displays in the natural beauty all around us.  Lately the Lord has really laid on my heart the beauty of worship and how all creation is designed to praise Him….and how much He loves to bless us in the process through revealing more of His heart. A few moments that come to mind recently include the other day when  it was raining (and I have always loved the sound of rain) and I found myself dancing under my umbrella to the mailbox singing along with Gods creation and on another occasion last week I was loving hearing the birds singing in the background while praying on campus.  My favorite praise moment however was recently while at Ubuntu Camp this past weekend with our students…..

We had arrived there later in the evening on friday and it was quite the adventure driving back into the camp riding in a bakkie (truck), however some of our students had to walk part of the way into the camp due to one of  the bakkies being unable to cross the  creek that lay just before the camp site, meaning the students would have to cross the creek by foot in the dark and in jeans….which was more than all of us bargained for. But as we heard the students approaching the camp location, our team was met with a joyful noise of praise as our students were singing together on their journey piercing the darkness with their songs of praise. As their voices filled the camp , it warmed my heart and the Lord brought Psalm 98 (above) to mind, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song…” …what a beautiful reminder!!

He designed us to lift up joyful praise to Him no matter what the circumstance and has given us glimpses of that throughout all creation…so how is He reminding you of His love and surrounding you with His joyful noise sewn throughout creation? Can you hear the sound? So grateful He desires for us to joyfully walk through life….together as the body of Christ and a little skip in our step is a great addition!

I am so grateful for this little reminder the Lord laid on my heart this past weekend and I hope dear friends that you are experiencing His joy this week too!

And here is a little video of a song that many of the students often sing (it is a video I found on Youtube since I dont have any of our students),and it is called ” Akekho Ofana No Jesu” meaning “There is No One Like Jesus” ….and it is most definitely a fun and very joyful song!  Check it out!

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Because of you…Becuase of Him!

Click picture for link to video

This video was recently posted to the website recognizing all that God has been doing around the world through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. It is simply incredible to see how many lives are being changed through Jesus and how people from all over the world in many different walks of life are being reached with the gospel!

I want you all to know it has been such a blessing to see all that God is doing here in South Africa and it is only possible because of each of you supporting, praying, and encouraging me and our team through your partnership in reaching the lives of students here in Port Elizabeth. All for His glory!

I hope you are as encouraged by this video as I was! Here is the link to check it out! :

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It’s in the Little Things…

“I love the tap, tap, tapping of the raindrops. I love the buzz, buzz, buzzing of the bees. But the thing I love the best, the very very best, is to know that Jesus loves me!”


I love how the Lord uses the simple things, like this sweet little tune to speak to my heart so deeply. These past few days our STINT team and the Summer Project team (who arrived last Sunday) were blessed with the opportunity to help hold a Holiday Club, which is much like a Vacation Bible School, for some kids who are living in a township here in Port Elizabeth called Walmer Township. (For those of you who do not know what a “township” is check out this page – Townships (South Africa) ) We partnered with a ministry located in the township called Jerusalem Ministries that is striving to help children and their families in this poverty stricken region to create and develop a safe and functional home and growing environment. They do this by creating opportunities for the younger children to go to school there and equipping the parents with life skills and providing avenues for income for their families, as well as providing a facility to both work in and leave open as a safe place for the children to play.

Planting seeds as one of the crafts with the kids (showing them how they are growing in Jesus too)

Each day of the Holiday Club nearly 50 kids showed up to the program and we all had a wonderful time playing with them and seeing each of them so full of joy and glimmers of hope in their eyes. We made crafts with them,such as planting seeds to talk about how Jesus helps us grow in Him and making Jesus bracelets through sharing the gospel with them, as well as there were lots of fun songs and the kids even taught us some cultural dancing…so fun! You could see the deep desire for each of these children to be loved and cherished by how they would excitedly jump into your arms and sweetly take your hand to lead you on an adventure or simply to be next to you. But even deeper than that, it struck me how much they really understood the depth of who Jesus is and how excited they were to sing songs about the Lord’s love for them, and many of which were sung in Xhosa which was so beautiful to hear! As we were singing with the kids, the Lord brought these verses to mind:

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth:make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praise.”

-Psalm 98:4

…as well as…

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

-Matt 19:14

Children singing “This Little Light of Mine” at Jerusalem Ministries

…When we begin to fully grasp the Jesus of the Bible and the hope of the Gospel, we cant help but overflow with joy through the Spirit!…and spending time with these kids was certainly a glimpse of what that looks like!

Also, recently there has been a lot of flooding in the townships with the hectic amount of rain we have had here in P.E. within the last week. As a result, many of the families living in the townships are struggling to have somewhere warm and dry to stay, so Jerusalem Ministries opened their place for people to stay there for the night. This brought me back to the little tune they were singing in the beginning…. “I love the tap, tap, tapping of the raindrops…” and how even in the midst of hardship, including being unable to sleep in your own home due to flooding, each of these little children are radiant with joy and love to sing songs of praise to the Lord. I realized that they have begun to grasp, even as little children, what it truly means to find joy even in the midst of suffering and hardship, allowing them to turn to the Lord to make something beautiful out of it all. It is incredibly humbling and yet so wonderful all at the same time!

This sweet little girl was called Yonela and she loved to be held!

The kids playing the guitar with Christina

Worship time….so fun!

They were wearing Toms! …Good to see kids actually getting to wear these and knowing t hat there is a lot of support in the States!

A few of the Summer Project people, Hannah, Louanne, Larissa and Christina with the kids. The kids love pictures! 🙂

It truly was such a blessing to spend time with these little ones and I hope we will again sometime soon! In the meantime I have a sweet little tune stuck in my head to remind me of the most wonderful and profound truth and joy of all…

Girls teaching us their dance at Jerusalem Ministries

“…the thing I love the best, the very very best, is to know that Jesus loves me!”

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A Snapshot in Time: April at a Glance (Part 1)

The month of April has been very hectic and filled with lots of wonderful moments that I am super excited to share with you all!!

We began this month hanging out with this lovely group of people from UC Irvine!  A team of 7 students and leaders came to partner with us in reaching out to the NMMU campus with the gospel here in P.E.! It was so neat seeing each of them step out in faith  (and even taking on the monkeys on campus…yeah Aubrey!) and 5 people came to know Jesus in that one week alone!

The UC Irvine Team: Aubrey, Rachel, Erin, Ian, Jon, Matt, & Jessica with our team

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

~Isaiah 55:11

Then, we had some  lovely visitors from the Western Cape, the Cape Town STINT team!

Enjoying a lovely afternoon at the beach! (From left to right: Katy, Stephanie, and Nick)

The W.C. Team at Addo Elephant Park! (Lauren, Erik, and Stephanie)

The King of the Jungle!! Yo!

Giving into our “wild side” while at Addo!…love these ladies!

And then we celebrated Easter together as a “Tamily” (team family)…

Easter egg decorating…so fun!

Our teammate Annie got baptized on Easter at the beach…so excited that we got to celebrate this wonderful day with her!

…and collectively we ladies just happened to look like the seven dwarfs…

Hey look its the Seven Dwarfs in some pretty sweet, handmade beanies! the best part…it was unplanned!

And then our team went on a prayer retreat called Waiting on God to lovely Eerstierivier Bay in the Eastern Cape and it was so beautiful!….

Such a pretty little cove!

Ladies at Eersterivier Baai

We stopped at a Farmstall along the way and look what we found…my favorite! 🙂

Beautiful sunset -Take #2

And my “tamily” surprised me with a all day birthday celebration on the 15th…

My team planned a sweet birthday brunch for me…including a lekker birthday pin and princess birthday hats!…hehe. So

We are most definitely a crazy bunch!!
…and we love our “tamily” nights on thursdays, and this week it was “Bacon and  Castle (the show)” themed, complete with Bacon and Chocolate ice cream (surprisingly tasty!). Thanks men!

The guys hard at work…love this interaction and face expressions!! Thanks for making us ladies the delicious meal men!!

….see Part 2 for the rest of this months adventures!!…

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Dreaming BIG!!


It has been an amazing start to the new year with the CRU students on the NMMU campus! It is crazy to think that we have been here in P.E. for nearly 2 months now and on the NMMU campus for 1 month. Time seems to be flying by!! Over these last 2 months our team has been blown away by all the Lord has been doing in the lives of students here on the 2 key campuses we are focusing on which are the North and South NMMU campuses. Over the course of the past STINT year, 7 students took a leap of faith and stepped up as leaders in the movement. Each of these students are such a blessing and have such a huge desire to see students lives changed by the gospel and their excitement for all God is doing and going to do on this campus is so incredibly encouraging.  Over the course of the past few weeks, we have had a few of our leaders step down due to being overwhelmed with classes and studies. Though we are sad to see them step out of their leadership roles, we are trusting God that His plans are bigger than we could ever imagine and He is working through it all. We had the awesome oppourtunity to have our first few student leadership meetings so far within these past two weeks and it has been so neat to see the big dreams and visions the Lord has given these student leaders for the students on their campuses. Their excitement has caused myself and our team excited as well about dreaming big for this year and the years to come!! (Yay STINT team 2013!) I wanted to share with you all a few of the things our NMMU CRU ministry is dreaming BIG for this year:

  • 1000 Gospel Presentations
  • 20 people to trust Christ
  • 7 involved new believers
  • 100 new students showing up to the weekly meetings(one on North Campus and one on South Campus)
  • Praying for a bible study in each residence hall on campus
  • Praying for each of our 5 current student leaders to be involved in discipleship  as well as discipling 2-3 new believers themselves

…and that is only for the Fall 2012 Semester!!!….And now here we are 2 months into STINT and it has been amazing to see how God has already been showing us how He has amazing plans for this campus and the students on these campuses. Check out all that has happened in the past month so far:

  • 500 students have expressed interest in the movement and talking more about spiritual things
  • 230 students have heard the gospel presentation through personal evangelism conversations
  • 13 people have made a personal decision accept Jesus and to walk with Him (WOOHOO!!!)
  • 2 bible studies have been started on campus
  • 18 people showed up to our 1st weekly meeting on North Campus (nearly double last years number)
  • 45 students came to our 1st weekly meeting on South Campus

…..and above all students are haring the Gospel and lives are being reached and changed through HIS grace and love! And truly we are so incredibly blessed to be apart of it all!! I would love if you would join us in praying for these campuses and these students who are both leaders as well as the many new students we are meeting each day, many of which are hearing of the gospel for the first time. There is definitely a hunger for truth and grace as well as a deep rooted cultural history that at many times can cause walls to be built up against walking with Jesus and what it really means to be in a relationship with the Lord, rather than simply involved in a religion.  Lately I have been continually overwhelmed by the Lords love or us as His children and the deep longing of the Fathers heart to take care of us and free us from the burdens of religion and the burdens we carry with us whether it be from family issues, relationship issues, personal struggles, etc. His love is LIMITLESS and He promised to be the SOLID ROCK on which we can stand when everything else seems to slip away. My heart breaks for the students who don’t know this love and many who are blinded to His love for each of us. My heart is that through the conversations myself and my team have on these campuses, that the Lord would speak His love through our lives and we might reflect more and more of the Fathers heart and love and less and less of ourselves.

I wanted to share with you all a video of one of our wonderful student leaders named Sibulele who took a step of faith and shared her testimony at the 1st weekly meeting on South Campus. Her understanding of grace and his all consuming love is overwhelming and is what many students here seem to grapple with the most. I hope that this video is as encouraging to you as it is to me!

Praying that Sibulele’s testimony is just the beginning of the many testimonies we will hear over the course of this year as we continue to dream big and remember NOTHING is impossible with God! So blessed to be living for HIS glory and seeing lives being renewed with hope and life….its exhilarating!

Love you all!! ~Karissa

“And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” ~2 Corinthians 9:8-9

“For it is by grace that we have been saved, through faith- and it is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are Christ’s workmanship, created to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ~ Ephesians 3:8-10


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If Pictures Tell A Thousand Words…

Hello friends!!

So I am sorry to say that I am a terrible blogger…I think it is the time commitment and the feeling of a lack of eloquent wording. One thing I am certain that I love and can conquer though is the beauty of the moment in pictures. In a way at times I feel like the paparazzi, but later feel as if a memory captured makes it most definitely worth it! So I have come to a conclusion about the relationship between blogging and myself…so long as “a picture captures a million words” rings true…I will do my best to update you all through photos and snapshots of the MANY amazing moments, both big and small, that have occurred on our crazy adventure thus far in S.A.! Thus, I have created a collage here of our team adventure to the Seaview Lion Park as well as our lovely adventure to one of the many gorgeous beaches here in the Eastern Cape. We had a wonderful time there doing everything from petting the lion cubs, naming a giraffe Jeffery (And Keith preceding to talk with his new friend), creating our own versions of “The Circle of Life” and letting our creative side come out in the beautiful sand on the beach. It was a great start to the coming year and the adventures of living in South Africa! Keepin it short and sweet!


Sending love from P.E.! <3, Karissa


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A Trip on the Wild Side

So I have finally arrived in beautiful Port Elizabeth, S. Africa and greeted by my wonderful team (with a sign and all)! It is simply amazing that I am even here and how much the Lord has taught me over the course of the last few months. Truly He has shown me what it looks like to trust in His timing and know that His ways are not my ways, no matter how many times I think I have a better plan! A verse that has really stuck with me through this process and has really reminded me of the Lord faithfulness and trusting in His plan versus my own is as follows:

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,  so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,  so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire  and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD’s renown,  for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” ~ Isaiah 55:9-13

The Lord allowed me to be fully supported (amazing!!) and though I did come after my team left, He also knew that I needed a season of rest with my family and blessed me with that before leaving the country. And being here now with my team has been so wonderful. Each of them are such a blessing already and I am sure that over the course of this year we will grow so much together in the Lord and in relationships with one another….so excited to see how God blesses and allows those doors to be opened as we are beginning to open our hearts to one another, trusting God will make something beautiful out of all of them put together. Meet my wonderful team :Katy, Nick, Keith, Desyre, Shannon, Annie, and myself. (Pic below. )

Our team at Seaview Lion Park

This pic was actually taken on the day we went to lion park to see the baby lions….yes thats right, we got to pet BABY.LIONS.!! Talk about one in a lifetime! They are so incredibly adorable and definitely too cute not to share with you all…



So after this trip it is safe to say I would LOVE baby lion…because all baby lions are cute and cuddly right?!.. 😉 They are just like big kittens who loved their bellies rubbed! Only difference….rather large claws and teeth, but no big  We had a lot of fun with these little guys and the road trip there was certainly an adventure as well! Between Lion King Songs (Karyn if you are reading this it was like living at the Oasis all over again) and our own renditions of a variety of songs, we had a glorious time! (and maybe scared a few animals away…oops! lol)
Simply put, the beginning of this journey has already been wonderful and as a friend once said, “Only the best is yet to come!” So excited to meet the students on campus in the next few weeks and we are heading out to our planning retreat here in a few days….so excited to dive into the ministry the Lord has for us here in P.E. and so blessed by the wonderful people I have met already!



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All for Your Glory!!

Hi friends! I am so excited to be writing my first post to you all and so blessed to have you all in my life! I am amazed at how far the Lord has brought me over the course of these past few months in everything from my walk with Him, my faith in stepping out to raise support, and the many ways He has blessed my family in this process too. He has shown me so much of His love and faithfullness and above all shown me that no matter what,  it is all for His glory, and inside of His will NOTHING is impossible! It is such a beautiful thing to see how the Lord is revealing to me more and more each day that I am walking in His will and  reassuring me that traveling halfway around the world to share the gospel with the students in South Africa is exactly where He wants me.

With that said though, I am currently at about 65% and praying that you would consider partnering with me in reaching the Students of Port Elizabeth, South Africa with the gospel. My support deadline was actually Dec. 1st, however it has now been extended to Dec. 8th. I currently am in need of  and praying for about $1000 in monthly support and $3000 in one time gifts. I am looking for monthly partners who would join me at $50-$100 a month, or whatever amount the Lord lays on your heart. If you would like to join my team you can give online at .

Thank you all for all the love and support you have given me in this process. I am so excited for the journey ahead and I look forward to sharing it with you! Please let me know if you have any questions or prayer requests as well! Hope you are having a blessed day! 🙂

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