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).