Monday, May 16, 2011

And Then There Were Four: Part II

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

We all took turns sharing the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection last week in Girl’s Club/Life Orientation class using the resurrection eggs. Each egg has an object inside that tells a part of the story. After sharing the story, we challenged them to try to put the objects in order. They did an excellent job and only mixed up two objects on their first try. Pray that these girls and boys truly understand what Christ did for them by dying on the cross and want to have a relationship with Him.

We have also been teaching the kids Romans 10:9 the past few weeks. We made puzzles in three different languages and let the kids race in groups to see who can put their puzzle together the fastest. The winners are rewarded with silly bands. (Thank you Emma!!)

Last Thursday, we spent the afternoon at a crèche (preschool) of about 100 kids between 2-4 years old. We sang songs, played games and listened to a Bible story about creation. We spent the rest of our time taking pictures and loving on the children. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

And Then There Were Four

“A man’s steps are of the Lord; how, then, can a man understand his own way.” – Proverbs 20:24

My friend, Erin, arrived in South Africa on 7 May. She jumped straight into ministry shortly after getting off the plane, and she fits right in.
We met with Thembani for discipleship where we had a great discussion about Ruth.  Ruth lost everything: her husband, homeland and family. However, she chose to follow God and remained faithful in that decision. God rewarded her faithfulness by providing her with a Godly mother-in-law, husband and child. Finally, we discussed how we should never assume that what happens in our lives is merely a matter of chance or coincidence. God is always at work, divinely orchestrating events to bring about his purposes in our lives. Pray for Thembani to realize God’s providence in her life amidst the daily struggles she faces.
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. During the testimony time, some of the youth shared a Bible verse. Then, to honor all the mama’s, they performed a song and dance. Afterwards, Erin got to meet a lot of our friends. Pray for these youth to be steadfast in the Word and that their desire to know God would increase every day.

We took a day trip to Standerton, Sibongile’s home town last Monday. We met her family, enjoyed some tea, juice and cakes, played with kids and toured the area to see where Sibongile grew up.

That afternoon, we drove around downtown looking for Sibongile’s brother, Sipho. He lives on the streets, so we weren’t sure that we would be able to find him. But, through God’s providence, Sibongile spotted him at a tuck shop (small shop to buy items like bread and cold drinks). It was at least a year since she last saw him, so it was very emotional for her to see him this way. We took him to KFC and enjoyed seeing him reunite with Sibongile and Kabelo. It was difficult to sit there as people stared at him and questioned why he was in the restaurant. Pray for Sipho to make better choices and choose to get off the streets, and pray that he will see all the ways God has provided for him and choose to follow the direction God has for his life.  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Good Friday

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Good Friday is observed on the Friday before Easter in order to commemorate Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. Many of the churches in Africa celebrate this day to remember that Jesus, who never sinned, willingly chose to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins. Then, three days later, He rose from the grave showing us that He has power over death.
I had the privilege of spending an entire day (8:30am-5:00pm) praising and worshipping God with members from five churches throughout Soweto. We listened to four different sermons from four pastors and heard testimonies from members of each church. 

We spent a lot of time worshipping through song. Stephanie, Rachel and I even joined together with some of our closest friends to sing a song.

The children enjoyed playing with each other during the breaks.
Some of the Gogo’s (grandmothers) were up all night preparing our lunch of chicken, pap, rice, cole slaw, bread, and vegetables.

Kabelo was our "usher" as we took up an offering.
Before the service was over, we all celebrated the Lord’s Supper. 
Please pray for these five churches: Faith Baptist, Lehae Baptist, Good News Baptist, Immanuel Baptist and Kliptown Baptist.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baby Blessing

“Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.” – Psalm 127:3

I met Sibongile last May and have become closer friends with her these past few months. She is an amazing woman of God who has incredible strength and courage. She was pregnant when I arrived and told us every time we saw her that her baby would be born in two weeks. Finally, around 6:15 am on 29 March, she gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Her name, in English, means Blessing.
This is her story of the delivery: The doctors told her to go to the hospital when she was 40 weeks. After waiting almost all day, they told her to come back a few days later, and they would induce labor if the baby did not come on her own. She arrived at the hospital early on the 28th. However, visiting hours are only between 2-4pm, which meant that her husband, Lebo, could not stay with her. The only way he could be with her during the delivery is if she went into labor during that time. We picked Lebo up and took him to the hospital at 2pm. We were able to see Sibongile and walk around with her until 4pm when they rang a bell that told us visiting hours were over. We all left wondering when she would go into labor. After waiting all night, the baby was finally ready to come. The only problem was that the midwives were enjoying a cup of tea in another room. Sibongile called for them to tell them it was time, but they didn’t seem to believe her. They finally came running into Sibongile’s room when they heard the baby crying! So, Sibongile ended up delivering her baby alone. Praise God that she delivered a healthy baby with no problems.
Pray for Sibongile and Lebo as they now take care of two children. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011


“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14

My normal routine has changed slightly these past two weeks because the schools have been on holiday. Our friend, Brenda, works for a home-based care organization designed to serve and help individuals with HIV/AIDS as well as orphans. We had the opportunity to spend a day with her to visit a few orphans suffering from HIV and an older man suffering from AIDS. Chelsea, one of the FUGE volunteers donated money to help buy them groceries. We were told that there are over 500 orphans in this one area, and the government can only afford to feed 100 of them every month. It is heartbreaking to see the conditions in which they live and really makes me even more thankful for what I have been blessed with. Pray that God will continue to provide for these children and make His presence know throughout this community.

Last week, our whole cluster met together for a large meeting. It was encouraging to hear how God was working in South Africa, Swaziland and Madagascar. It’s amazing that no matter where you live in the world, we all have the ability to worship the same God. First Baptist Church, Orlando led worship all week and reminded us of the personal God we serve who is continually active in each of our lives. After the meeting, I was able to accompany a small group from the church on a tour of Soweto. I learned this week about the Door of Hope. There is a drop off spot in Johannesburg for mothers to take their babies if they don’t feel like they can or want to take care of them. By dropping them off at this church, they can be sure that someone will take care of their child. There is no place like this in Soweto, so some mothers have decided that there is no other way out except by tossing their babies into a river. The picture below is of the Klip River where many of these babies are thrown. Pray for a location and funds to build a Door of Hope in Soweto. Pray for the young women who feel like their best option is to watch their own children drown in a river because they have no hope. 
It’s very easy to get discouraged when you’re around so much sadness and despair. So, sometimes it’s good to get away to refocus your attention back on God. Stephanie, Zach and I all took a day trip to the Magaliesburg Mountains where we hiked through rocks and hills for a few hours. 
Then Rachel and I took a three day vacation to a Bed and Breakfast in a nature reserve. We were able to see Zebras, Kudu and Wilderbeast as we hiked through the trails. Most of our time, though, was spent sitting by the river talking, reading and just relaxing. It’s important that we take time to praise God for time to be still in His presence and find rest in Him alone.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Father to the Fatherless

"He [The Lord] administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing." - Deuteronomy 10:18

Nkhosinathi is a member of our church in Snake Park. He is in his final year of school and spends most of his time trying to study in order to get good marks so he can attend university. Like most South Africans I have met, he wants to get a job to make money. Unlike most South Africans, his goal is to provide, not for himself, but for his younger brothers and sisters.
Last week, we were able to spend the afternoon with him and listen to his story. His father passed away several years ago, and his mother, who is HIV positive, moved to another province, leaving him alone. Because he is still in school, he cannot get a job. Since he has no family, there is no one to provide for him. After moving from house to house numerous times within the past year, he is finally settled into a small shack, provided by a few church members, where he can now study for school without any distractions. He moved into his new home with only a few possessions; yet, while he has faced many challenges, his faith stands firm.
My mom and coworker, Vicki, donated money to help Nkhosinathi. With the money, we were able to buy a few essentials including a blanket, iron, teak kettle, hot plates, pots and pans, and some basic food items. It has been a true blessing to meet this young man and see how God continues to provide for him through other believers.
Praise God for His provision and for taking care of His children! Pray for Nkhosinathi as he works hard to finish school. Pray that God will continue to give him strength each day both physically and spiritually. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

African Hospitality

"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." – 1 Peter 4:9

I have never been in a culture where people practice such great hospitality like they do here in Soweto. Every Friday, we have the opportunity to disciple a young girl, named Andile, and spend time with her amazing family. Andile is the oldest of five children who all live in a very small, government-owned house with their mother and stepfather.
As soon as we arrive, they invite us into their home or bring out chairs so we can sit and spend time with each other. Even though they have very little food, Andile’s mom insists on cooking for us every time we come to visit. She piles our plates with so much food, and we try to eat as much as we can but also try to leave some for the kids. The whole family serves us. I think it would be very difficult to serve someone a huge plate of food and watch them eat in front of you, knowing that you are starving; yet, they give cheerfully and never even complain.
After we finished our Bible study with Andile this past Friday, we enjoyed an awesome time of fellowship with the whole family. We listened to them sing, watched them dance, “tried” to learn how to dance, and played some games. Pray that Andile will be a light to her family as she is the only one who professes to have a relationship with Christ.
Andile has been very sick. We spent 9 hours with her two weeks ago in a clinic and hospital but still do not have any answers. Pray for Andile as she goes back to the doctor on 14 March, that the doctors will know what is wrong and how to help her. Pray that she will not be discouraged but will continue to put her trust in God who is our ultimate Healer.