Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER UPDATE

God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
            God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
            Professor night lectures each evening.
Their words aren't heard, their voices aren't recorded, 
But their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.
God makes a huge dome for the sun - a superdome! 
The morning sun's a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed,
the daybreaking sun an athlete racing to the tape. 
That's how God's Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith. 
The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. 
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. 
God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.                                                                                                   --Psalm 19:1-7 (The Message)

This passage really resonated for us as we reflected back on our ten days in the historic land of Eg.ypt, especially travelling through the country during the holy month of Ramadhan, and praying that as hearts are seeking to draw closer to God they are receiving more of His truth that sets free. 
We know this update is long overdue and we apologize for being quiet since our return from Eg.ypt, but it has really been a challenge to get our thoughts together based on what the Lord has us involved in.  We will be getting out a more detailed report of our time encouraging the outreach team in Eg.ypt, including the many challenges we faced in just getting our return flights home:( The time with the team was very encouraging and rewarding as we listened to how much they had grown personally already.  Thandi and I really enjoyed the day we were able to worship and fellowship with the team at their place on Elephantine Island in the River Nile (look it up, very beautiful), and then take time to give each of the six members words, pictures and prophecies we received for them in the time we had prayed leading up to the trip and on the train ride south. 

For now, we have been processing a lot and were busy helping wrap up the April DTS while also being able to have Thandi’s sister, Nelisiwe, visit us for two weeks.  We hope we encouraged her, as her presence always does for us.  Oh, and Busi turned 4! (see MuizPlay pic).  We also just had a packed but incredibly rich At-home Week with our over 200 staff that gathered to hear from God from all over the city.  It is always so amazing to have a such a culturally diverse community coming together with a genuine hunger to be in the Lord’s presence and seek Him together as to the new things He is calling us to join Him in.  It truly is a taste of heaven as more sounds of the nations are released and we learn to serve and edify the Body God has called us to be apart of—what a privilege to build His Kingdom together!

TIME FOR CHANGE…
Since the beginning of the year, however, both Thandi and I felt God saying that our time in South Africa has come to an end, though we were really struggling to hear God for what the next step is for us as a family.  However, since doing the short course just before April on our strengths, spiritual gifts, and passions, we felt we wanted to help pursue Thandi’s passion for healthy families and seeing Bible-based education as the foundation to that.  She has recently applied for the Foundations in Education [http://www.uofnkona.edu/training/foundations-in-education/] course in the largest Y.WAM base, Kona, Hawaii for April 2015.  The course is only three months, but there are options to stay on for Thandi’s practical, and I would be looking to do some kind of internship study while simultaneously networking for our long-term vision in South Sudan and the region.  There is a school we are applying for Busi to attend on campus as well, and it is supposed to be very good.  It is exciting to think that this course focuses on developing an educational foundation based on a Biblical worldview that can be run in a non-biblical context, such as a Muslim-dominated nation or animistic culture.  Needless to say, it will be a huge transition for us.  Though we knew this day was coming, it is not going to be any easier.  We sense God is challenging us to sell or give away nearly all and start afresh as a family (with exception to my library, which I am planning on distributing among some friends who enjoy books just as much as I do, one of which is an Ethiopian brother named Niftalem who is planning to start a café/bookshop as an outreach tool downtown for whom I will donate some of my books to help him get that startedJ). 

As far as the next step after the training/equipping time in Kona, we are not sure at this point, but I am following up contacts of mine in Ethiopia and nearby regions, as we desire to be close to South Sudan while still be equipped to enter fully into our ministries there.  We trust that perhaps we can serve the vision of another family, even if in another mission organization, and gain valuable insight and growth for our own calling.  We appreciate prayer for hearing God in this, especially if He is opening the door for us to go into South Sudan earlier than expected, such as joining a Sudanese family that will soon be going to re-pioneer the base in Wau, northern South Sudan, where I had previously gone on a scouting trip.  While certain parts of the war-torn country are still tense and facing crisis (Ethiopia now hosts the most refugees of any country after fresh floods of Sudanese fleeing the fighting in the east), Wau is quite stable and anxious to develop its potential.

CURRENT MINISTRY/TESTIMONIES:
In our remaining six months, we will be getting some good transition coaching from a solid friend that has been in missions for several years with his family, Thandi will be doing a powerful six-week course called Leading by the Spirit [http://ywammuizenberg.org/training
/leading-by-the-spirit-course/] with the primary goal of growing in confidence in the gifts God has given her, while continuing with her Cherish girls on God’s call to purity in Mfuleni, and I will continue with outreach/relationship building/simple church among various unreached people groups that God has brought into the beautiful mix that is Cape Town. 
I have been able to start up a new DBS (Discovery Bible Study) with some young men from Lavender Hill, a notorious Cape Flats community wracked with hard drug abuse and gang violence on a near daily basis, alongside a born-again gangster with a passion for reaching youth in the area.  We have been gathering with 3-4 youths from the community every Tuesday night, though it has not always been smooth, sometimes not even able being able to drive into Stone Court where they are staying because bullets are flying.  In the past five days alone, four young people have been murdered.  Even when we are unable to pick up the youths, I still gather with Ashley, Nazeem (both locals), Jacque (new staff from Eastern Cape) and now Silvan (Swiss visiting for a couple months) to pray for God’s Kingdom to come in power to this shattered existence.  God impressed on me the story of Lazarus in our last prayer time, and I was filled with so much faith that He is able and desiring to call out long-dead people to be His Kingdom warriors in this community.
It is a great rarity to find a functioning family unit amongst Lavender Hill’s nearly 35,000 people (see Demographic map of Cape Town attached), and even when there are families with both parents who are Christians, they often follow mere religion and are thus unable to pass onto their children the ability to navigate their way out of such an oppressive environment.  
That is why we are praying for a multiplication of these simple Bible-based fellowships that can reach kids who would never feel comfortable going into one of the mainstream churches.  It has been encouraging to hear some of their application statements in obedience to the Bible story/passage we go through, including treating their women better, helping out at home, and not reacting when others curse at or insult them.  One of our guys named Justin has actually been stabbed in the mouth because he is a talkative fellow, though our time in the Word has helped him to humble himself and rather search for ways to serve his family and neighbors.  Another youth named Christo, fresh out of rehab, expressed how he truly wants to find out who he is and is taking the Lord’s Word to him very seriously.  His cousin recently testified to me how surprised she was when he did not react to guys insulting him when he would normally talk back even worse to them.  This is truly revolutionary in such a rough neighborhood as this when turning the other cheek could be read as a sign of weakness and get you killed!

Every Thursday I am continuing to go with whoever will join me on the train downtown, and follow-up with relationships I have built.  Most of these friends come from staunch Mu.slim backgrounds/nations where to leave that system is unthinkable.  But Holy Spirit is regularly providing opportunities to plant seeds of truth and ways to share that I can are relevant to their situations.  Truly He desires all men to know Him as He truly is!  I have been going regularly with my Ethiopian brother Niftalem, who was with us at the Kids Camp in July and serves with another mission organization called All Nations, and I love how God uses him to speak truth to these friends in a nonthreatening, respectful way. Just last week, we were closing our time of prayer in the old Methodist Church centrally located in town when we noticed a man walking around the church with a pure white kofia (muslim cap) on.  We felt to approach him, while another brother stayed to intercede, just to introduce ourselves and not let him go from a church without even being greeted!  As I was asking him where in Cape Town he stays, we simultaneously recognized each other, as this was the drug lord who gave me a ride home in his BMW at over 200km/hr when my bike had been stolen in Overcome.  He actually stays at the edge of Lavender Hill and his son is the primary leader of one of the larger gangs in the whole of the Cape Flats!  He shared with us that he had been diagnosed with prostrate cancer and was waiting to go for his scan nearby.  He consented when we asked if we could pray for him, and what followed was an intense time of simply speaking God’s love over him and the Lord desiring to commune with his whole heart.  Niftalem and I could see Holy Spirit was touching him, though when we said “Amen” it was like he suddenly snapped back to reality and was on his way.  We know such people who have been doing the enemy’s work for years and years build up hardened hearts, but we also know our God is able to turn the heart of stone to a heart of flesh!  We also have an invite to come visit Kasim in the community anytime, though will be praying for the right time.

SEEKING TO SERVE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH…
Since returning from Eg.ypt we have been regularly attending a small fellowship called Hope City Church that meets in a café in Muizenberg.  I love being apart of a community of faith outside the YWAM bubble that is still in walking distance, and Thandi is really enjoying the communion as well as getting involved in the childcare/Sunday School programs.  The pastor and his wife just moved here from London, though he is South African and she is half-Lebanese.  They and another family in the church raise Pit Bulls as well (yes, the dogs that bite and don’t let go) and I am helping them organize an event where these dogs compete against each other in various events, in an effort to get them away from the typical fighting they are raised for.  Pit Bulls are very common dogs in the poorer Cape Flats communities, including Lavender Hill, so I am looking forward to this as an outreach tool.  It has also been a blessing to join a Wed. night small group as we go through the teaching series “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” together—it has been very enlightening for Thandi and I to say the least!  We still stay connected to friends in the Overcome church that burned down, and I try to get out there once in a while to help with the rebuilding efforts, glad to see they are enclosing one section for a kitchen and kids area.
We are also continuing to meet with our good friends Sbusiso and Nelly for home church Thursday suppers, and we are supporting them as they prepare to say their life vows on October 31st.  I will be one of the groomsmen while Thandi is helping organize a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff.  Lastly, we are also looking to fit in a local course for TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) that gives missionaries a discount here in Cape Town, and could prove very beneficial as a tool and means of some income in the future.  
Thanks for reading if you made it this far, and many blessings as you continue to bless us as a family for the sake of Lord’s Name being made known among the nations!

PRAYER REQUESTS….
·        -  Continued health for Busi and Elisha (we have had to go to ER twice in past couple months for Eli because he gets a very rapid heartbeat due to his airways closing up when he gets sick; we last had to put him on one of those masks that he can breathe some steroid mix in to calm down and doctor said could easily develop into asthma, but we have prayed and warred over him and believe God has healed him!)
·       -  Balanced life, especially as we get ready for Thandi to be a full-time student again for a season
·        - Ongoing fruit in the lives of Cherish girls Thandi meets with
·        -  Multiplication of and regular meetings for DBS in Lavender Hill; protection by the blood of Jesus and the Word to penetrate deep into the youth’s hearts and minds
·        -  More testimonies of God touching the nations in downtown Cape Town
·       -   Grace in this transition period and that we may bring to completion well what God still has for us in South Africa
·        -  Increased persecution of believers around the world, particularly strength for those in Iraq and Syria

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