God is on the Move

By Karen Nikiforos 

After being in full time ministry for almost two and a half decades we’ve come to adopt the following motto for our lives, “God is on the Move.”

As soldiers in His army, it’s our calling, duty and joy to follow Him, as our Captain, our Shepherd, and the Author of our Salvation.

Demitri and I were married in Cape Town in the summer of 1997. Within two weeks of exchanging rings and wedding vows, we hastily packed up our lives into four suitcases, said goodbye to family and friends and boarded an aeroplane to America.

Landing in Florida, we first affiliated ourselves with Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, a multi-site church with a global mission and church planting ministry. Next, in following God’s call, we relocated to Southern California and enrolled at an international Bible college, where we later graduated in 1999.

As we both came from several years of serving in a ministry called Christian Surfers, we assumed we would go back to that (Demitri launched this ministry in South Africa in the early 1990s with his friend and brother in Christ, Roy Harley). However, much to our surprise, God called us to come back to South Africa to start planting churches. This wasn’t what we thought we would be doing, but God was on the move and slowly, we were getting the lesson embedded in us: “When God says ‘Go’ you ‘Go!‘ – and quickly, as there is nothing worse than trying to labour in a field that you haven’t been called to labour in – and we obeyed.

We returned to South Africa in 1999, eager and optimistic (as well as slightly younger and energetic) – and asked the question: “Ok, we are here now, now what? Surfers?” God’s reply: “No, prostitutes“.

Well, this wasn’t quite our vision for church planting but God said “Go” – and well, when God is on the move you follow.

For almost two years we served the Lord by spending our late evenings walking along Green Point Main Road with cooler boxes of hot coffee and packaged meals. Together we would go from corner to corner just handing out these items, with the message “Jesus Loves You” written on top – and we would move on. As time went on, the young men and women caught in prostitution, drugs and pimping, slowly started to open up to us. By this time we were connected with a ministry called “Straatwerk”, who have a full-time passion for these broken ones whom Jesus loves. They had opened up to us the use of a venue in Green Point, where we were able to invite and start a Sunday evening meeting for those men and women we had met on the street.

And they came, they left, they fought, they overdosed, they overdressed and they underdressed – but there was change happening. God was on the move in their lives.

Following their need to find alternative accommodation, we moved into midweek ministry, in a night shelter called “Moira Hendersen”. This was a space where several of those who had given their lives were able to find new accommodation, as well as opening a door for us to meet many others. These Tuesday evening worship times and Bible studies were great breaking periods in many lives. Here we saw the hardest of hearts softened and changed.

However, if you’ve been in ministry for more than 25 minutes, you will know this isn’t easy. It’s war, and we are called to fight battles – in His Name and by His Power. And we did. God was on the move once again and an inner-city church was born – Calvary Chapel Cape Town.

Over the next 18 years, we were able to partner in several church plants throughout South Africa. We too worked for many years in various African countries, writing biblical teaching and training resources for both young, uneducated pastors, as well as for children’s ministry equipping.

It’s impossible to summarize those 18 years of full-time service with Calvary Chapel as anything but “God kept us moving and growing”. He enabled us to start a discipleship training school – focusing on training up young men and women to teach, preach and minister in His church – equipping them with the biblical tools they needed. We were also able to train dozens of men and women, pastors and youth – equipping them to give an answer to the hope that lies within them.

Another thing we have always discovered, and are ever learning on this journey, is that God is big and on the move – always taking us from glory to glory. He always does more than you can ask or imagine. He opened doors for a radio ministry, prison ministry, a restaurant and bookstore called “God’s Army”, writing ministry, youth ministry, dance ministry, women’s ministry, men’s ministry, children’s ministry, annual conferences and international ministry. All the while, God is still adding the workers to His field.

It was wonderful and exciting, then in 2017, God literally woke us up one night, telling us to pack up and move. He was on the move again, and by now, I’m sure you could echo our response: “Yes Lord, where to now?

With a new strong team of leaders and eager labourers, we stepped out in faith in 2018 – closing the season we were serving under the ministry of Calvary Chapel, to launch a vision in 2018 – New Life in Christ. We sold off the bookstore and restaurant and then sowed that seed into launching two new churches, all within a space of a month. It was so exciting, plus, we had the energy and support of so many of the youth who were passionate and eager to serve!

Again we heard those words – “God is on the move” with those two beloved churches, and we certainly didn’t want to be left behind! An online media ministry was launched where we would not only produce the weekly online services for Sundays, but co-host, write and present “Bulletproof Faith” – a live Q & A show where our audience could send in their questions live and receive answers – plus leaders training resources, and more.

This is the part of our story where the relationship, a deep family relationship, began with Joshua Generation church.

With all the years of ministry experience, and the scars to literally prove it, as well as the lessons learned and skills forged by His mighty, loving hand, there was something we lacked – and that was being part of a bigger family. A family that could come around and along with us, and that we could come around and alongside, because we love each other – because this is how church gets done.

It’s building His Kingdom – not ours, not a name, not a man’s – but the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, our Beloved Lord and Saviour.

God is on the move again, and we feel that by coming into a deeper relationship with Joshua Generation church – like any healthy marriage – we are both coming to bless the other, with the gifts that the Lord has supplied.

The awesome part of moving forward with God, is that if “God is for us, then who can be against us!” (By the way – it’s a fact, not a question!) Our lives and times are short and uncertain, but what is certain, is that if God has a work to do with our lives, as we seek and submit our lives under Him, He will do the work – not by our might, nor by our own strength – but by His mighty power.

From 1997 to 2021 – we have aged, we have learned and we have grown – we have spent hours on our knees. Now, as we begin this new journey, we know that “God is on the move” – and when He moves we will follow! Instead of following rainbows and hoping for fictitious pots of gold at the end, we get to follow the King of the World and discover blessings in obedience and fruits in the harvest field – more than we could have ever asked or imagined.

“Ask of Me, and I will give the Nations as an inheritance” – and that is certainly our heart – the nations – for His Glory, for His Name and for His Kingdom.

Karen Nikiforos

Wife & co-labourer with her husband, Demitri, Karen has been serving both their family of four children and the church in a full-time capacity for over 25 years. She is deeply passionate about serving the Lord in women's ministry, worship ministry and in her writing.

Zandi Hulley

More from NEWS