Cultures collide in Spronk’s life

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

Natalie Spronk serves as a full-time volunteer with Grace Klein Community as an advocate for Kwathu Children’s Home in Livingstone, Zambia, one of GKC’s partner ministries.

“Every day I try to think of ways to bring a little bit of Africa and its culture to America,” she said. “This includes speaking at schools, churches, small groups, leading worship at community gatherings, facilitating community events and sharing God stories and updates through social media and newsletters. My time is committed to furthering the efforts of Grace Klein Community, knowing that I’m not here for self gain, but to bring glory to God.”

Spronk was born in Cape Town, South Africa; her parents Jhonny and Gillian and brother, Donovan, moved to Port Elizabeth, South Africa when she was six months old.

“When I was 13,” she recalls, “my father tragically died and the next 12 years were a whirlwind of emotions, life changes, confusion, good decisions, bad decisions—the essence of learning how to grow into adulthood without my daddy.”

Prior to coming to Birmingham, in 2013, Spronk served in Zambia, Africa, alongside directors Jeanette and Agripa Phiri of Kwathu Children’s Home. There she found herself “in the blessed position to share love, life and faith with the precious Kwathu children.”

“Now, the cultural differences between my homeland and Birmingham continue to surprise me,” Spronk said, smiling. “I have learned sarcasm is meant for jokes, not to be taken verbatim. Horns are not called hooters here in Birmingham, as they are in South Africa, nor are traffic lights called robots. That first one got me into a lot of trouble one day with a homeschool group!”

“I have newly experienced and fallen in love with sweet tea, tacos, funnel cakes, flavored coffee and creamer, salads with a million toppings, and pumpkin everything,” she said. “Fall festivals, where free candy felt like I was stealing from kids, corn hole, chili cookoffs, sledding in snow, hearing random ‘Roll Tides’ in the middle of conversations, going to my first baseball game and Christmas parades have all been new adventures.”

Spronk said many times she felt like she was living in the movies, driving on the “wrong” side of the road, yellow school buses, red fire hydrants, newspaper stands, ice cream trucks, the mailman, drive-thru banks and pharmacies, decorating homes for every season, carpool, the flags at car dealerships, Krispy Kreme donuts and Starbucks.

“Being in the United States has offered me a greater opportunity and taught me to enjoy ways of serving that I never previously considered or even knew existed,” she said. “Here, I have met people who genuinely love people, even strangers, and that love has challenged and taught me much about who Jesus is. He loves me for who I am, the good and the bad; the flaws, the times I’m tired and grouchy and the times I feel on top of the world.”

“And from His love, I want to give that same love away, with kindness, patience, generosity and grace. Grace Klein Community daily affords me such a precious opportunity—the open door to love my neighbor.”

If anyone would like to schedule Natalie Spronk to share with a group, she can be booked via emailing natalie@gracekleincommunity.com.