Sunday, March 1, 2015
X-country January Road Trip:
We had hoped to get out an update before the end of January after we saw Mom off at the airport, but here we are now already at the first of March!
I am sure some of you in the Bellingham area and BPC have already heard (and seen the pictures) from Mom about our epic road trip across seven of South Africa’s nine beautiful provinces. It was truly amazing to see the geographical diversity across this great nation, and I have attached a couple of my own to supplement. The most exciting was definitely being forced to back up with two large bull elephants coming our way and with no apparent plans to get off the road anytime soon. It got really exciting when the rest of the herd came crashing and trumpeting across the road behind us, though thankfully a couple cars back! The first photos show some of this 11-day road trip including getting up close in Kruger…wish we could have captured the kids’ expressions!
Before we reached our main destination in Graskop, Mpumalanga just outside of Kruger Park and right around the corner from the famous “God’s Window”, we spent three nights on the road with friends and colleagues. Our second night we were hosted by Pastor Martin who had come to our base to attend the Kairos course Thandi and I helped facilitate a year ago, and it was truly a blessing to visit his church plant in beautiful Lusikisiki at the edge of the Xhosa homeland of the Transkei. The morning of the fourth day, after spending the night at the YWAM base in Durban, we were able to visit a good friend and former colleague of mine who is finally getting the help he needs to break fully from his troubled past at a very intensive rehab center. It was amazing to see true hope for change in his eyes and demeanor, and a blessing to pray for him together with Thandi. He was actually quite instrumental in seeing Thandi and I come together in a haphazard kind of way;) I thank God he is getting the close accountability he needs, and I continued to speak out what I always have since I first met him in 2006 about God wanting to use him for great things, especially to awaken the youth of South Africa to a great move of God.
We were also so blessed by our hosts of the guesthouse we stayed at in Graskop, who are a strong Christian family. Personally, they ministered to me greatly in what it means to raise a God-fearing family in today’s world, and we were blessed to be able to pray for the father and younger son as they drove off to visit the dying grandfather in Pretoria. We actually found out about their place through one of our former DTS students who is now working with one of their elder sons in Christian filmmaking! Lastly, we were able to pass through Joburg and spend some quality time with Thandi’s nuclear and extended family, while also sharing together in the church on Sunday. Thandi testified about what God did in her during her LBSC and shared about what Identity in Christ really means, which I just followed up on by speaking of God’s everlasting love that spurs us onto love and enables to no longer be prisoners of fear. We also got to reconnect with dear family friends who helped to host our 5-person family unit. This is the same family who hosted my groomsmen and I the night before our wedding (see Fortuin Family pic)!
Back at Homefront:
The past month saw the passing of one of our close friends, a dear Sotho sister (from Lesotho) Thandi knew from her time serving at YWAM Worcester just inland over the mountains from Cape Town. The circumstances surrounding her having a stroke at only age 32 are still not clear, and the death has brought a lot of questions from Thandi, especially regarding the two children that were left behind. Thank God that He gives us His Holy Spirit to bring not only full understanding and truth, but blessed peace when we simply can’t understand (John 14:27; Phil. 4:7). There have been other deaths and sicknesses of friends and former students that have been quite sudden, which we feel God is using to sharpen our focus on those who still have not surrendered their lives fully to the Lord. We know our time remaining here is short, but we don’t want to leave any unfinished business behind that the Lord has specifically commissioned us for. We appreciate prayers for attentiveness to the Spirit in this.
One of the challenges we are all feeling is loadshedding. We are now on an official government program where the times change, but nearly everyday the electricity in our whole region goes out for two hours. It is so true that we don’t miss the things we have until they are gone. I remember staffing at the base in South Sudan and not taking long to get used to not having power (though they are all connected these days). Most people being interviewed on the streets leading up to President’s equivalent of the State of the Union last month mentioned the need to do something about this electricity shortage, power having been nationalized into a single company called Eskom. The problem has its roots in the old Apartheid regime, but it is surprising more planning was not put into place to connect more of the country by now.
A couple weeks ago some friends of ours (the wife is actually helping Thandi learn to swim with weekly lessons now after T realized how much Busi and Eli love the water) that helped to co-found an amazing development organization here in Cape Town called Hope Africa Collective [check them out: http://hopeafrica.com/about-us/] asked us if Busi would be willing to say a few lines and be filmed running the beginning of the journey of education, promoting the right for all children to have access to a good education. She did pretty good as a little actress as long as she knew there would be ice cream afterJ Hope to get some edited clips soon to be able to post on our Youtube account. Here is the latest one I posted of sharing the Word on the train New Year’s Eve day:
We are carrying on with a small house church in Philippi in the home of Lorraine, a mother of three who has experienced a lot of abuse in her life, but is determined to still be used by God and is very motivated in inviting her neighbors to join us every Wednesday. It is interesting to draw comparisons with that first European church of the same name. Paul in the letter to the Philippians is not shy in calling them not only to accept their suffering, but to rejoice in it. As Christians, we are not exempt from the suffering that’s inherent to human existence—but our faith gives us a different, and hopeful, perspective on suffering that other religions and philosophies cannot. Furthermore, persecution on account of the Christian faith is a powerful testament to our God and the suffering that Jesus Christ himself endured. The few people we have joining have been very keen on seeking to love their neighbors and especially those who speak evil against them as we go through the book of John. It is still Thabo and I going to facilitate, but last week we had both his girlfriend and Thandi join us with Elisha to hear what the people are sharing and also give their own input. It is truly turning into a family, and Thabo is keen to carry it on after we have left! We are trusting for Kingdom fruit in this community where violence and greed has become the norm (just last week another Somali shop was burned down and looted of all their goods), as more people not only hear the Word but seek to daily live it out.
I continue to go downtown on Thursdays to meet up with other missionaries for prayer and then “treasure hunting” around the city center. I have recently been ministering with a Sudanese MBB Rasheed (now Matthew, he chose to make a clean break from Islam and felt this name fit as he did not hesitate) along with my Ethiopian brother Niftalem (see photo of both of them in Bo Kaap), and it is so amazing to see their boldness in sharing the gospel! I am inspired to just go for it, for after we have spoken to the Lord and committed the time to Him, these souls are truly in His hands! Just last week we met the new wife of another Sudanese who is very staunch in his Muslim faith, and she confessed she is a Christian to us and is praying for her new husband to receive revelation of Jesus! She was so eager to talk to us and have us pray for her.
I also got to help take over 100 students downtown the week before during our Nations2Nations week. This was a week where we had other bases from around South Africa joining us for worship and hearing more about the God of all nations, celebrating the diversity of His Kingdom and calling more to come into His family! (see pic of praying over giant world map, where I also got to pray and prophesy over a Congolese student concerning his troubled nation that has so much to offer). It is so encouraging to see these young students just making themselves available to be used by God all over the city. There were many testimonies of people they prayed for breaking into tears, confessing sins and wanting to repent, and just receiving the love of God!
Lastly, I have been partnering up with another YWAMer from Lavender Hill to visit youth groups in the area and to continue to encourage youths on the streets, asking the Lord to lead us to some that would want to meet on a regular basis. We go out on Tuesdays after helping serve at the soup kitchen at Edwin and Angela’s house. I am also excited this coming week to help out a Community library initiative I stumbled upon, and see how we can volunteer some time to make the place nice and donate some of our kids books as we prepare to leave. Please keep Lavender Hill and Retreat communities in your prayers, as there have been nearly a dozen killings by gunshot just since the beginning of the year. Remember, this is only a small corner of the gang/drug-infested Cape Flats. I will also be joining back up with some prison ministry at Pollsmoor this week, which I am really looking forward to.
We are still very much in a season of equipping ourselves with Thandi still following up with staff from her time in the LBSC and looking to practice her prophetic and other gifts more often with the Bethesda team, and now myself beginning a course on Spiritual Formation and Experiencing the Word March 16-April 10. For any of you that may be interested, here is the website with lectures by Dr. Chris Hall that we must take notes on before the course begins. Very challenging and thought-provoking: http://jonah.eastern.edu/classes/christian-spirituality/index.html. Even before that course, I will be travelling to Media Village every day next week to help facilitate another Kairos course with the DTS there, and impart God’s heart for the unreached.
Thandi and I are also planning to complete an English teaching course (TEFL) in May to be able to obtain certificates that would be recognized internationally and could be used as a strategic tool in South Sudan or other places in the future.
With that said, we are now officially booked to be arriving in Seattle by June 18th and look forward to being in Bellingham area for a month or so. In that time, using money from selling our car here, we hope to get a used car and take the classic American road trip this time to the base where Thandi’s school will be in August: Tyler, Texas. We hope to visit the Colorado Springs base on the way, the base that has been supporting much of the work and laborers with YWAM in Sudan, processing support for Christopher and Hanan in particular who I shared about at Christmastime. Praise God they are back in South Sudan and we have been able to send some support to them through your generous giving to us, though their needs remain immense as the cost of renting a house in Wau where they are going to re-pioneer the work is very high. Thank you for keeping them in prayer, along with the whole nation.
Forgive us again for such a long update…We will truly work to get the next update out with much fewer words and in less time! Much love in Christ, the hope of glory for all nations…
Trying to get back to Picasa for posting pics: https://plus.google.com/photos/105737754937536261134/albums/6121410223921209921