Tuesday, November 25, 2014

October/November Update--Happy Thanksgiving!

Sanibonani abangane bethu (Greetings to all of our friends) and Happy Thanksgiving,

We trust you are well and growing in knowledge of and obedience to our worthy Lord Jesus as you gear up for another festive/busy season.  We have a number of things to update you on, but can just begin with a big praise to God for all His intimate care and purpose for us as a family, and pray He is doing the same for you who are learning what it is to truly trust Him.

Since the last week of October Thandi has been full-time in a course run by an offshoot ministry of our YWAM base called Bethesda House: Healing for Body, Soul and Spirit.  Here is her update:

We are on now on our 5th week of the six-week Leading by the Spirit Course (LBSC) and I’m struggling to put into words what God has done. It has always been a battle for me to walk fully in the calling that God has for me, especially in our inheritance that God has for us in South Sudan.  Well, I’m happy to announce that I no longer live by fear of death!  It’s been an awesome journey of God setting me free of that as well as breaking a lot of the fear of man in my life.

Another thing God has been doing in this time is helping me to embrace my emotions and operate in my strength of Empathy for His purposes to be fulfilled in and through me.
I actually became aware of my need to engage with my emotions before the course started through doing Strengthfinderswith Bryan, in which Empathy came up as my top strength, and having a friend of ours in the mission coach us.  I saw that I was not operating in empathy towards others because my other strengths were dominating and telling me not to risk getting hurt again.  Now, through the LBSC, I have been set free to engage with my emotions, knowing they are from God and He wants to use them in my relationship with Him, with others, as well as bringing understanding between others in reading the spiritual atmosphere.  Overall, the course is very intensive with long hours and digging deep into our past to break generational curses, receive and learning to impart  inner healing and many other dynamics of what Holy Spirit wants to do in our lives.  I am so grateful to be able to do this course and that we have the flexibility for Bryan to be with the kids more (he just ends up taking them along on ministryJ), and he among others have really noticed me coming alive.

We have had several outreaches between the lectures/classtime to practice growing in the prophetic, praying for healing, and so on, and this last Friday I was able to take it into the youth group Bryan and I meet with in the Xhosa community of Mfuleni.  This is the same group I have been giving updates on where I am co-leading with a local youth leader the Cherish manual on sexual purity and identity in Christ (which we are still carrying on slowly but surely), while Bryan meets with the guys to speak on similar issues.  Well, this last Friday we felt to stay together and began the time with a nice fellowship/ celebration of life around snacks.  It was cool to see these youths who don’t have much all contributing a small part to make it come together instead of relying on us to provide everything.  From there, I explained some of what I have been learning in the LBSC and would like to have them join Bryan and I in putting it into practice on one another, by the Spirit that is in each of us.  We then prayed for the seven youth present one at a time and just trusted God to minister to them with specific words.  We were so excited to see the youth not only experience God’s love ministering directly to them and a lot of breakthrough in tears, but it was largely through their fellow youth who really engaged with what God wanted to do!  Many of the girls received deep healing in the area of the Father’s love, and others just  in walking out who God made them to be.  Bryan and I came away so blessed, and they all thanked us for our obedience in facilitating the time. 

Lavender Hill Ministry:
Since our last update about the Discovery Bible Study I started with some youth on Tuesday nights, there has been a lot of hard work invested in these guys with some disappointing results.  We have come to the point where we don’t want it to be us chasing them down to meet, but waiting for them to initiate if it is something they really want.  We know it is a strong spiritual warfare going on in their hearts and neighborhood, so we continue to pray, but also ask God to give them the hunger for Him they need to rise above their situations and truly seek Him out.  We trust they have tasted His goodness through our times in the Word, but have moved on to another part of the community where I have been going earlier on Tuesdays to help serve at a soup kitchen my friend runs out of his home (see pic).  We will as a family help his family delivering Christmas parcels to the community and help fundraise for this.  This has been easier to take along students to also minister, and we are building a lot of solid relationships and able to speak into many lives, both nominal Christians and Muslims, as this neighborhood is about 50/50.  I have been taking the kids along with while Thandi is in the course and it is always amazing to see how they open up opportunities to share and draw people.  My friends in the community then take us around to people’s homes for another two hours.
I am currently discipling one youth named Brandon who goes by the nickname ‘Brakes’ because he doesn’t do anything slow.  He is still involved with the Funkies as a gunman (I haven’t asked how many people he has killed) but wants out as he recently got married and wants to have children.  I see such a softness in his heart and his wife is good for him, but it honestly will take a miracle for him to break free from this gang.  But our God can make a way!

I have been working with a brother who previously lived in Lavender Hill, but has relocated across the highway to Retreat.  Last Friday night he (Ashley) invited me to join him and some others in a Prayer March.  It turned out to be one of the coldest nights in many months, but we were warm in the Spirit, as we sang worship/deliverance songs in Afrikaans, English and Xhosa and marched to every corner tying up red ribbons, prophetically taking back the land and people for God's Kingdom.  It is another community taken over by gangsterism and the drug trade that is killing the youth, but there was so much hope as we cried out to God and proclaimed His authority.  He kept reminding me that He is these people's greatest desire, truly He is the desire of all nations! (Haggai 2:7).  The next day Ashley told me that through that 2-hour act of obedience, two souls came into the Kingdom of Light!  

Downtown Ministry:
I have been taking a couple staff colleagues every Thursday downtown via the train, and it has been bearing some real fruit, especially in the informal settlement next to Bo Kaap known as The Kraal (literally where cattle are kept—see pics).  This is a community of primarily drug dealers and all-around down n outers—just the kind of people Jesus loves to hang out with!  There is actually a Southern Sudanese Dinka named Eric who has lived there in a shack for several years and made friends with all the locals, and Dachung and I have been discipling him and encouraging him in reaching out to his Muslim neighbors of Cape Malay origin.  We are also helping him acquire a work permit, as he is a qualified engineer among other things. 
A really cool story from our first visit there over a month ago was our encounter with a seriously disturbed lady who lives in an old rusty container at the edge of the community.  As we were talking to Eric and some of his neighbors, she was yelling curses and insults at us from a distance.  The people just told us she was mad and to stay away from her.  It really seemed she was demon-possessed, and the people warned us she would send her vicious dogs on us if we approached her.  But Silvan, a Swiss brother visiting and ministering with us for a couple months, and I felt we needed to try and talk to her.  Thus, praying under our breath in tongues we slowly approached and the people looked on with dread.  We could see the discomfort and hatred on her face as we came closer, even as she warned us not to.  But we kept praying and kept coming until we came around to the entrance to her container and then out of sight from the others by a full clothesline.  To make a long story short, we found out she is actually a believer (most of the inhabitants in the Kraal are cultural muslims) and was tired of everyone making her the outcast.  They would even make up things about her when the police came around searching for drugs, etc.  We gently helped her to see that her responding in kind to them with insults and curses was the exact opposite of what Jesus would have her do by His Spirit.  It was not a mistake God placed her among these broken people, and He wants to use her to show how real His love and goodness is to them.  Patricia allowed us to pray for her and her children (single mom), even repenting to God with us and asking Him to help her live by His Spirit.  We ended by hugging her as the tears flowed, and we really couldn’t believe this was the same woman who a moment ago was yelling curses at us!  It was awesome how God silenced the two dogs as well.
The following week we returned to have Patricia actually greet us with a smile.  She still is struggling to open herself to her neighbors and interact, but we know God is doing a great work of restoration within her heart first.

It has been great meeting with different friends from different nations and asking God to speak through us to them, almost all from deeply Muslim backgrounds.  Last week I felt led to give a copy of the Wolof NT (Senegal) I had been holding and asking God to whom to give to you to my friend Khadim and it was so cool to see how excited he was to be reading about Nabi Isa in his own mother tongue.  I will be following up with him, and really pray that the Lord ministers personally to him as he overcomes his cultural fear of the Bible and asks God to speak.

New House Church in Philippi:
I have joined my Sotho/Xhosa colleague in helping start a house fellowship in the Xhosa community of Philippi in between Lavender Hill and Mfuleni.  This was also started with the help/availability of Silvan who has since gone back to Switzerland, and it is pretty amazing to see how hungry the people are for the genuine gospel of grace, and to learn how to live it out…so often in these communities churches have been planted everywhere, but they still preach a gospel of works and people go only to be seen going but with hidden condemnation and feeling like they never measure up to God’s standard.  Just yesterday we had a DBS where we went through the Great Commandment in Matthew 22, and it was awesome to see the revelation flowing that we can only love others and ourselves by first learning to love God.  And we can only love God by first receiving (and continuing to receive) His incredible, unconditional love for us!  Lorraine, whose home we meet in, will facilitate the time next week and has also mentioned wanting to get baptized.  She was really touched from our first meeting, as we simply asked the Father to speak His love and purpose over her….So much joy and redemption He is bringing, and we just ask Him to multiply it!

New Plans for Next Year:
Lastly, for now, we found out from some friends who had previously staffed at YWAM Tyler, Texas base that they have a 9-month program called Teachers for the Nations (TFN), which essentially covers Foundations in Education curriculum plus more.  See http://ds.nelwel.com/tfn/teachers-for-the-nations-2/.  As we looked it over and prayed, we really have peace that this is the right place for our family to go to next for equipping for both Thandi and I.  We are still putting in the application, after already finishing the one for Kona, but are sure we will get accepted and God will provide what is needed for this season.  They also have a good school for missionary kids as well as local children that both Busi and Elisha could attend.  I am still praying if I will do the whole course with Thandi and seek out other training in the area of Business as Mission, but either way, it will be a great base to be apart of, knowing they send a lot of people to the Frontiers, and Sudan in particular.  The school doesn't start until August rather than April, so we are hoping to get a flight in late June to spend some time in WA state before heading there.  I never thought I would live in Texas!:)

Ok, that is all for now.  As usual, I know we have left some stuff out but will do best to get out shorter, more regular updates to remedy that!  The kids are doing great, and we keep speak healing over Elisha’s airways, as he still tends to tighten up and breathe quickly when getting any kind of small sickness.

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