Monday, November 22, 2010

Proudly South African




I am not sure about those of you in the isolated world of America, but I believe the majority of the world has borne witness to the professionalism and smoothness with which South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I was especially convinced of this after observing the embarrassment that the 2010 Commonwealth Games proved to be for India a few months ago. Honestly, I was amazed at how well everything went throughout the month-long tournament and hosting of tens of thousands of foreigners infiltrating a country only twenty years out of one of the most oppressive governments in the world.

I can say today that being married to a South African and having a South African/American little girl, I am truly blessed and proud to be identified with South Africa. As nearly all the products that are locally made in this great nation have written on them, I am "Proudly South African." While this 'buy local' marketing campaign and logo is great to support local production, I recently learned it can sometimes be deceiving. Over a dinner discussion with a Kenyan family and friends, a passionate topic came up. Kenya not being recognized for the things they produce and export to South Africa--namely, their unique blend of Arabica coffee from the fertile highlands. South Africa carries out what is called Rebranding of certain products that are not South African, but package them as if they were. Thus, you buy Kenyan coffee in the local grocery but there is nothing on the package to indicate it actually comes from Kenya! The closest I have seen is a rebranded coffee called Kenna:) So this is the reality of global trade and manipulation of markets.

While the months leading up to the World Cup were at times quite tense within the host cities, such as when the police forcefully confiscated my new camera after innocently taking a photo of a truck accident outside our apartment in a Cape Town suburb far from the city, the event itself was truly a remarkable experience.

Now the debate rages on in Cape Town, where the money is put into rugby and cricket, whether their World Cup stadium down near the water will survive, with the dimensions only sufficient for soccer and not the former two sports! Yet, South Africa has proved its vitality and ingenuinity in spite of very diverse cultures that have earned it the nickname "Rainbow Nation."


Busisiwe shows her support for her father's homeland as well--Go Mariners!
Merry Christmas from all of us here in the sunny southern hemisphere and Happy 2011!!!

Issues/Prayer Surrounding Upcoming Referendum Vote for SUDAN




Long before voter registration officially opened last week Monday, al-junabiin (Southern Sudanese) have been quite vocal about their intentions to secede from their northern counterpart, based in the much more developed Khartoum. Yet, the issue is not so much now whether they will truly split or not but what will happen after the referendum set for January 9th. What are all the issues that must be considered for true development to take place in the south, even if it does become the newest nation-state on earth? Chief among these issues is the ongoing, unresolved debate of the three major disputed territories of Abyei, Nuba mountains, and Blue Nile province and where their citizens will live.

Wolfram Lacher, a researcher on Sudan and the Horn of Africa, discusses contentious issues related to the referendum and possible solutions (the full article can be found at http://blogs.ssrc.org/sudan/2010/10/06/negotiating-southern-independence/):

The negotiations are structured into four areas, each of which is covered by a working group comprising representatives of both parties: Citizenship; Security; Economic, Financial and Natural Resources; as well as International Treaties and Legal Issues. Key negotiating points include an arrangement to divide up oil export revenues; the rights and duties of citizens across the common border (including rights of residence, work, trade and land use); the currency and national debt; water; and security arrangements. In addition, two issues that are not part of the negotiations in this context are nevertheless of major importance for future north-south relations: the delineation of the common border, and the status of Abyei.

He argues that the Abyei referendum might lead to violence. Abyei is an area in Sudan with “special administrative status,”

The preparations for the Abyei referendum have experienced even more delays than the independence referendum, and the criteria for voter eligibility are fiercely contested. As a result, doubts are growing whether the vote will be held on time, and the Abyei dispute is increasingly becoming a negotiating point. In September, the NCP suggested that the Abyei referendum should be cancelled and the area should be turned into a demilitarised zone whose residents would have dual nationality. The SPLM has rejected the proposal, not least because it would represent a departure from one of the key components of the CPA, and therefore could ultimately raise questions about the independence referendum itself. Nevertheless, a negotiated solution would offer an opportunity to defuse the Abyei dispute. The Abyei referendum would be very likely to lead to violence in the region. The conflict not only has a national dimension (related to the oilfields located in Abyei) but is particularly explosive at the local level, where the rights to residency and land use of two groups are at stake – the Ngok Dinka (a key constituency for the SPLM) and the Misseriya (a Baggara tribe).

Another contentious area, though wholly within the southern border, is that of Unity State and the town of Bentiu (where Thandi and I believe God is leading us to) where a large amount of the nations oil is being drilled and exported north via the only pipeline. With that said and to think about, a lot of words have been coming out of the three intercession times I led for Sudan and the upcoming referendum at different bases here in South Africa. The first one that came through was the need for the believers to truly WORSHIP the living God in the midst of this, and find their true purpose and peace of heart in Him, no matter what ends up happening around them (though they still must be involved in making history). The most recent prayer session here at Muizenberg saw God's heart for reconciliation shining through, though also with the word 'split' with it, leading to remembrance of the divided kingdom of Israel into Judea and Samaria.
Other words we have been receiving for Sudan and God's people there are...

-Daniel 2:31-45Pray in God’s Kingdom; His kingdom stands firm forever. Just as the image had a different materials, there was one stronger than all the others (in Neb’s dream). God’s Kingdom stands and is everlasting; pray in God’s glory over Sudan (speak it out)
-Dan. 2:20-22; 4:34,35God wants to restore people’s Identity and speak Destiny into them; He wants to raise up Daniels (Dan 1:8 “He resolved not to defile himself”)
-2 Cor. 7:14 “If my people who are called by my Name confess their sins, I will heal their land”
-Picture of Jesus walking on the streets of Sudan; a jar of water is poured out on the dry ground and spreads across it, and the water=God’s people
- Jeremiah 33v3 – “Call to me” God says
- Bringing back restoration.
- Jeremiah 29v10-14
- Isaiah 44v2 “I am your creator you where in my care even before you were born”
- Colossians 3:12-15
- No unity without forgiveness
- Feeling of hopelessness for change (Broken clock); people may try to force the change against God’s will
-God’s heart is for reconciliation among the peoples and is already moving through various ministries
[Reconciliation involves a changed relationship because our trespasses are not counted against us, by God’s grace—must first be reconciled to God before we can be reconciled to others (2 Cor5:18-19)]
-Prayed against spirit of fear, violence and retaliation
-Peace of Christ in hearts, not just around society—brings true freedom
-Only God can solve the dispute
-Isa. 2:4-5harvesting tools for reaping unreached in north (turned from weapons of war to farming tools)
-God will raise up peacemakers from both north and south
-Sense of trying to see something, but still veiled/hazy
-Just speak what God has already done—His faithfulness
-Received the word ‘Split’- maybe by man’s choice but not reflecting God’s will—shows God’s love to let them choose (Picture of divided kingdom of Judea (south) and Samaria (north))
-Faith, hope and love—-cannot love God if you don’t love your brother; may God bring this revelation to a number of Muslim brethren truly seeking after God’s heart, who will be reconcilers with southerners

I hope we are encouraged of all that God is already doing in this divided, yet great, nation, and the great destiny upon its diversity of peoples! Let's keep lifting them all before the Lord's throne of grace...


A picture I took of a Shilluk man showing his support for SPLM on CPA Celebration day Jan. 9th 2008 in Malakal, Upper Nile state, South Sudan

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reaching Out to the Muslims in this generation



This past week I had the privilege of teaching on a subject that the Lord is giving me an increasing passion for as I make more Muslim friends and read up more on all the ways they are kept bound in a system that says God is distant and quick to judge.
This was my first time to teach in a week seminar format, though I felt I needed to incorporate some who have been in ministry reaching out to Muslims and sharing the truth about Jesus CHrist to them, and so I invited a Nigerian brother studying for his doctorate to come and share his insights. It was especially insightful because he came out of a strong Muslim background where the community is quick to kill anyone who comes to follow the truth of Jesus. What is amazing and what I incorporated into my teachings is the fact that Jesus is referred to in the Qur'an as Isa al-Masih ('Jesus the Messiah') 11 times, in addition to being given the titles KallamtaAllah ('Word of God') and RohoyuAllah ('Spirit from God'). I also incorporated some of the video testimonies known as More Than Dreams, which are miraculous stories of Jesus appearing to Muslims around the world and saving them from a very oppressive system.

It was a great learning experience for me to teach over a period of time and see the students grow in their compassion for Muslim peoples and truly believing God will lead them by His grace to speak into the lives of many while on their outreach.

The team photo are the students going for the 3-month outreach from England, USA, Germany, South Africa and South Korea. We also have a Brasilian student, but he needs to get back to serve his church in Brasil.

Lastly, we had to share that we already received news that Busi's South African passport is in for pick-up! Now it only remains to aquire the Unabridged Birth Certificate so that we can put in the application for her US Passport before traveling next April/May. Shukran Rabi Yeshua al-Masih (Thank you Lord Jesus)!

And thank you all for your continued support in our lives and the overall mission God has called us to as a family. Enjoy the family pic (when Busi came to visit me after my first day of teaching).

Monday, October 25, 2010

SUFFERING FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE

During the week of the Lausanne Congress here in Cape Town, Thandi and I were able to go with a few students to a nearby Anglican church which was hosting a series of Biblical topics covered by some of the incoming global church leaders. We decided to attend a few sessions in the "Healing" tract and it was great. The speaker was a pastor from Singapore who has planted a number of churches in this key city with 'healing rooms' that have naturally grown around the services, thus meeting the people's needs in very real ways. But he came across in a very down-to-earth way and wanted to communicate God's heart to bring all forms of healing/salvation (look up Sozo in the greek) through His church (i.e. all His people). The simplicity and humility of this anointed man was quite disarming and it was a very captivating lecture with some good hands-on application at the end where we prayed for each other and released God's presence in us to the person suffering from some sickness/pain, and a few people got healed of years old problems!
As the pastor instructed us, "Don't start telling God what to do; he already knows what to do! Just engage the Spirit, visualize God healing them and release His presence."

But what stuck out for me the most was when he highlighted different understandings of SUFFERING. He spoke about the suffering of the Bible and the early church who said "We must endure many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God" and how this continues to this day in countries where believers are persecuted for their faith. But what about open countries that have not faced physical persecution for some time? This is where many buy into the fallacy that a sickness or disease falls under the category of suffering for Jesus' Name. If we are honest, we sometimes see an illness we are going through as God's will for us to make us more holy and dependent upon Him. But where does it speak about this in the Bible? I have heard many people speculate about Paul's "thorn in the flesh" being some kind of illness he had to battle through. But if you follow his life after conversion, it was clear he had many enemies and it was likely a group of religious people (some say the Circumcision Party) who doggedly pursued him and tried to discredit everything he said and did. This was truly suffering for the sake of the gospel going forth and the Name of Jesus being lifted high in all nations as God has intended from the beginning.

It is God's will to heal His people and the suffering we are called to partake in is only that kind that surely comes when we exalt him before any other thing in this world. As it says from Jesus' own mouth in Mark 10:45, "The Son of Man (Jesus/God) did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many." His death and new life was (1) for the purpose of God's glory in heaven, to Whom every knee shall bow, and (2) for the purpose of bringing his abundant life (Jn. 10:10). Granted, we cannot walk in this abundant life until we have entered into His death (Gal. 2:20), which is our part in suffering for His Name's sake, but then we are not to accept plaguing illnesses as part of God's plan for us.

Lastly, it was very encouraging to hear that even when we pray for healing and it doesn't seem to happen for the person, we mustn't give up and say it must be God's will. You move on to pray for the next person God speaks to you about. Those who receive the gift of healing usually receive it just like any other gift from God--by a passion and asking of fellowship for it for the glory of God. As Paul instructs, "Eagerly desire the greater gifts" (1 Corinthians 12:31).

I hope you are encouraged as I was to press deeper into God's rich storehouse of gifts and see a little more of heaven come down to earth and bring the full salvation (physical and spiritual) God intends for all nations to receive from Him.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Church Planting School Among the Unreached 2010 Underway...

We just finished up our first week of Introduction and Imparting the Vision of Muizenberg's fifth School of Cross-Cultural Strategic Missions (aka Church Planting school). We have a total of seven students from five different nations, and it has been great to see the hunger and passion for making Christ known that they have brought with them. I will soon be getting a class photo posted and they themselves are preparing media to let people know what they will be doing and who they will be targeting on their outreach. In the meantime, I am responsible to lead them in local outreach where we had started a simple house church network amidst a nearby informal settlement called Overcome.

I (Bryan) have written previously about the fruit seen thus far and our vision for a CPM (Church Planting Movement) among the people, who have settled there from all over South Africa. Just last week, Robario, Simon (the other staff in Church Planting school with me) and I had the privilege to lead two Zulu brothers to receive Jesus into their hearts and begin a fresh life led by His grace. The DTS will be doing follow-up with this home and the area, while our CP school will head into a new part of the community to seek out a man/woman of peace that further spread the power of the gospel among these desperate souls. The fields are definitely ripe for the harvest as people are crying to God for breakthroughs!


The pictures below are from a major soccer/netball clinic we helped out at towards the end of World Cup, when all the children were on school break. This big event had over 1000 kids and was held at Fish Hoek High School. The last picture shows me and a Brazilian volunteer from Samaritan's Feet posing after refereeing a tight match:




Saturday, September 18, 2010

Interceding for Sudan



As the date for the end of the referendum power-sharing government between North and South Sudan rapidly approaches (set for Jan.9, 2011), there is a lot of skepticism and debate going around about what will be best for the nation of Sudan as well as the surrounding region. In sharing its borders with nine different African countries who have all borne witness to its nearly 50-year long civil war, it is no wonder that Africa is engaged in seeing the coming vote progress smoothly and with beneficial results. The main question on everyone's mind is: Will the South remain united to the North or will it secede to become the youngest nation in the world? And immediately following that: Will its secession bring any real change for the betterment of Sudan's citizens, both northerners and southerners?

Thandi and I were privileged to have the opportunity to lead a time of intercession for Sudan at the much larger YWAM Worcester base this previous week. It was really amazing to be able to put into practice some of the skills we learned in our Leading by the Spirit seminar right after completing it! The questions we posed to our multicultural prayer participants were as follows:
-What is God's heart towards the referendum and where the people of Sudan are at right now?
-What is the truth about the current situation?

This still kept it very broad but we wanted to make sure we heard from God first what was on His heart to pray for that morning, instead of immediately narrowing it down to Government, the Church, etc. It is amazing to first see how the people engaged with the Spirit at 8am, so much that various leaders came up to us after praying for us as a couple and expressed their surprise. But we had been praying the night before specifically for this. Secondly, we got to witness God bringing together many parts of His love and plans for Sudan through many different nations. There was a major focus on activating PRAISE for Yahweh alone, as the one true Redeemer and Lover of the peoples of Sudan. There was also a clear calling for Sudan believers to rise up as warriors and be sent out to the unreached, forsaking all to see the lost come to Christ.

Overall, it was a blessed time that we could see many wanted to carry on with, though the time slot didn't allow for it. However, we will be following up with them as a base before we head out on our trip next year to spy the land once again and renew contacts and make new ones. We also one girl come up who we shared her burning heart for the Sudanese, and we prayed for God's leading of her and her own personal intercession as she cried freely for the Sudanese. It was wonderful to be seeing in the spirit some of the devil's grip being inevitably loosened as we proclaimed God's supreme greatness and spoke it His heart over Sudan.

We are currently compiling a document of all the words we have received for Sudan in our various intercession times and seeking the Prayer/Worship Department's advice on how to continue to hold this nation before God's gracious throne. This next Monday I also have the opportunity to lead our base in intercession for Somalia, which is today operating like three nations in one, and will be excited to see what God speaks over the destiny of this fragmented nation and its precious peoples.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

World Cup in South Africa June 14-July 11 2010


The welcome we received at Cliff and Beryl's place in Port Elizabeth: all of our country's home flags (I was also supporting Mexico with the T-shirt)

At one of the two matches we were able to watch at beautiful Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in PE (Eastern Cape Province)

Showing love for USA at False Bay train station before heading to the FIFA Fan Park in downtown Cape Town (this was the game where US got ripped off against Slovenia)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Off to see some matches in Port Elizabeth; feelin' da Football Fever!

Here is an URGENT PRAYER REQUEST for getting the Word out to those who haven't heard her in Cape Town!

Dear Friends,
I ask you to pray for favor and permission to put Korean Bibles in the Southern Sun Hotel rooms for the North Koreans. Republic of Korea is a communist nation so closed to them ever hearing the good news. They just played Brazil and will come to Capetown for a game and they need the love of Jesus. Pray for favor with the hotel, that the team reads the Bibles and God moves on their behalf. It is the most closed nation to the gospel but God can come in miraculously! Please pray fervently! Pray for favor and that they see and read the Bibles! We just got Korean Bibles yesterday! South Korea is one of the biggest missionary and outreach nations for the gospel in the World now and we pray North Korea opens up for the gospel!!!


This is from a YWAM couple that is affiliated with our base and taken real initiative to get materials in several languages including Arabic, to reach out to unreached peoples that have flooded into South Africa for the World Cup. Cape Town is already a very cosmopolitan city with many nationalities, but this has been huge in bringing the gospel to those who have never heard!

While I have had the chance to go into Cape Town and share Christ through just striking up conversations with fellow fans, I have been mostly involved in local kids clubs and soccer/netball clinics for the children/teens on holiday over the World Cup duration. It has been very beneficial especially in the community my Brazilian brother and I have already been going into to start house fellowships (ie Overcome), just to be able to be more known and trusted with residents in the area as we have fun with the kids and show them Christ's full love and acceptance.

Now, I prepare to head East with three brothers (South African, English and Brazilian) to feel the World Cup fever in another host city--namely Port Elizabeth on the south coast in lovely Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. We were able to get tickets for two matches a couple days apart, and are pumped. Part of the time will be spent celebrating the Brazilian (Adelson, my co-worker in Frontier Missions Department) getting married in August to his delightful Belgian bride. While it will be difficult for Thandi to be apart for 4 days straight, she will be spending most nights with the wife of another who just had her first baby girl--so good preparation for our own due on our 1st Anniversary, July 25th!

We thank you dearly for your prayers in the pregnancy, and for our work here for the Kingdom of God coming down in Cape Town and spreading like the fire it is into the nations!

Opening Day Match at Base: Mexico vs. Bafana Bafana (South Africa)

MORE PICS TO COME!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Pics of the family in Johannesburg


The two pregnant sisters sizing it up (Nonhlanhla on right is due a month before Thandi)


Our nephew, Nkosinathi ('God with us'), better known as Nathi, will eat anything and everything he can scrounge up, but is a delight

At the wedding--all the sisters but one [We only made one afternoon of the three-day event, and was a little bummed we missed out on the slaughtering of the ox]

The stormy weather on our drive back closing in on Cape Town made for some instant and glorious waterfalls....man, I love waterfalls!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Praying for Sudan's National Elections April 11th...

Thandi (6 months pregnant) with Nelli, her sister


Showing our love for America & Africa!




Yes, the time is here. Really, I can't believe how fast time is moving, both in personal/family life and global events. This Sunday the stage has been set for Sudan to vote for all seats of government in the disjointed nation for the first time in two decades, in spite of protests and allegations of rigging and the impossibilities of fairness. But even the UN's pleas to postpone the elections have not been heeded, and the show must go on. While the importance of this vote pales in comparison to the referendum vote set for January 2011 to determine the future of North-South relations in southerners' minds, it still is being widely watched internationally.
A major development is that of the primary opposition party, the Umma party, claiming they will boycott elections, which would most definitely put the ongoing President Omar al-Bashir firmly in control of claiming the victory.

What is the role of believers in such elections as these, where it looks almost certainly that nothing much will change? Do we just accept it as inevitable or push in believing God's justice to shine through from the spiritual into the physical realm? These are some of the questions Thandi and I have been wrestling with as we pray for this nation of special inheritance for us. Please pray with us in this transitional period for Sudan, and especially for its citizens to seek out God for their role in bringing godly change to their nation.

In more personal news of return from outreach in Kenya and preparations for the baby come, you can view the email update I send out. If you keep up on this blog but do not receive the email updates, please let me know ASAP so that I can add you!
Blessings from the Whitlock family (Thandi, Bryan and baby to come) in South Africa...

Oh yes, thanks to all your responses of commitment to be praying for us before we headed to Kenya. We are now organizing this and will get back to you.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bull Fighting in Western Province, Kenya...good times


The Bishop hosting our team is the one in the maroon shirt running away from the charging (though defeated) black bull at the end of the clip. He was scared out of his mind.

Sorry to have not gotten up the video earlier, but it was due to network problems at the local internet cafe. We have since had a significant change in our trip itiniary, and have added a third primary location to this mission. We are now finishing up a refreshing week at the Lewa Children's Home/Baraka Dairy Farm outside of Eldoret. It has been so good just to spread the love of the Father to these abandoned children and orphans (currently about 60 of them, including some infants). Each night we have been able to use their prayer times (very Catholic) to share dramas that exemplify the character and nature of God, and even invited them to accept Jesus into their hearts last night. Three of the older boys (around 11) stayed after for prayer, and did just that. Glory to the God of our salvation! Tomorrow, we head further north to Kitale briefly before continuing on to Lodwar and Lokichoggio in Turkanaland. Look forward to sharing more after we arrive in this semi-arid land, known for its dust and hot wind. Mungu awabariki! (God bless you all!)





The other two pictures are of our more recent time up in Lokichoggio, Northwest corner of Kenya. Thandi is playing with our hosts' children, and then a boy killing time in Kakuma Refugee Camp.