I suppose I need to apologize for not updating in a while. I’ve come to realize how difficult it is to stay up to date with blogging. Hats off to all the routine bloggers out there. I told myself I would do at least once a month to give me some wiggle room. However, I think I’m a once per quarter kind of guy!
I’ve been on Africa soil for 7 months. It’s gone by extremely fast but also kind of slow. Hard to explain. God is continuing to stretch me and have experienced a lot of His presence but also have felt distant at times. Hard to explain. I have become comfortable calling this place home but still catch myself randomly stopping in my tracks saying “Oh My God, I’m in Africa”. Hard to explain. I have experienced growing relationships with many people here and have experienced some non fruitful relationships as well. Hard to explain. I have experienced foreign (to me) insights from God’s word and even new ways of talking with God. Hard to explain. As I type this blog and trying to be all creative with the “hard to explain” bit I am honestly frustrated about not being able to explain what I have experienced lately. I’m thinking about when I come home in a few weeks to visit and how difficult it’s going to be to share as well. I’m reminded of Paul in Romans 11 when he seems to be in a similar situation. He’s trying to explain some serious stuff and mysteries of God and then just busts out in praise!
Romans 11:33-36 A Hymn of Praise
33 Oh, the DEPTH of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How UNSEARCHABLE His judgments and UNTRACEABLE His ways! 34 For who has KNOWN the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? 35 Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid?[a] 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
And then I start to feel okay about not being able to explain everything. After all, my “story” is God’s story and we can’t comprehend God! The more we surrender to God the more we realize how unexplainable He is. Surrendering gets us closer and allows us to experience His wisdom, His knowledge, His love and compassion, His judgements, His ways, etc… However, we can’t explain it and there’s always more! “Oh, the Depth…” Amen Paul.
My church (Brentwood Baptist) is having a missionary conference at the end of June and all our missionaries from all over the world will be coming home for this. I am coming home May 13 and staying through the end of June. While I’m excited for the conference and about coming home and visiting family and friends, I am also kind of bummed about leaving so soon. I feel like I’m finally “catching my stride” and our team is embarking on some new ministries. Most importantly, I am growing relationships and my absence during this time has me worried. So this is a prayer request I ask of you and something I’m praying through as well.
What’s been going on in ministry?…
After school clubs- This is going strong and would say is my most important time of growing relationships with our children and teens. It’s a safe place for the kids to come and play, hang out and hear God’s word.
Holiday club- (When school is out and we hold all day club for kids and teens) The last 6 years, I have come during “Holiday Club” on a team to work alongside the Life Skill Educators. A few weeks ago, I experienced being on the other side of this while a team from Australia worked alongside us! During this holiday week, we taught the kids the life of Moses and about having courage to follow God. I was Moses for the week and visited the children in biblical costume to share how Moses had courage to follow God’s plan. Our team did an amazing job with the teens. We prepared a week of doing “The Amazing Race” based off the reality show. We partnered with other people in the community and planned activities based off the bible stories and theme of the week. It was awesome to see how fired up the teens were running through the community and was impressive how well the teens remembered the stories and bible verses. I also had the privilege of taking some of our teens to Monkey Town during holiday week. Pick and Pay (local grocery chain) sponsored this for Living Hope. It was a great day and we all had a blast!
Literacy Program- A few months ago, we started a literacy program with our kids. We have kids coming every Wednesday and Thursday to learn literacy. Education is a huge problem in our townships and we are looking forward to see how God continues to use this ministry to help the kids. We also have plans on working with mothers on how to help the kids in this regard.
Parenting- Our team has been engaged in the community working with parents. Living Hope has an 8 week parenting course with support groups. Our hope is to empower and encourage our children’s parents as they deal with challenges of raising their kids. Unfortunately, we have experienced some challenges with getting parents to come. However, we are in the process of partnering with an organization who minister to mothers in our community to come in and run this program. I am excited about this opportunity as this organization already has mothers attending.
Job Center- My team member and good friend Justin has been training at Living Hope main campus for our new job center that will be coming into existence in the next couple of weeks! This will be crucial in our community. We have done door to door visits accessing the unemployment issues in our township and the results have been overwhelming. A huge percentage say they are unemployed and also say they would be greatly interested in coming to our Job Center. This Job Center will consist of assisting people with resources, references, tools and training on how to obtain steady employment and keep a job. I am looking forward to being involved with this ministry.
New team member- One of our team members (Phathiswa) is currently on maternity leave. This has opened up an opportunity for Living Hope to bring on a local volunteer to work with us. This is a really cool story as she has grown up coming to Living Hope in our after school programs. I remember her being a teen when I came on my first short term trip 6 years ago. I remember her saying that she wanted to be a Life Skill Educator when she grew up! This is a testimony of our program and is a blessing to have Abigail work alongside us and see her pour back into the children of her community!
As you can see, God is at work in a lot of things with our team. We are excited about all these opportunities to share Christ and empower our communities. I would ask for prayer specifically for all of these ministries and for our team. A lot of work behind the scene goes into this and it can become tiring and frustrating. So prayer for energy, health, determination, positive attitudes and for our community to be open to what we have to say and give.
Lastly… Language learning update- Long story short- I have a private teacher who I meet with once a week. It’s the hardest most frustrating thing I’ve ever tried to do in my life. But, not giving up. Pray for a miracle!
I look forward to visiting with many of you when I’m home. Please feel free to reach out if you want to meet up to hear more. I would love to meet for coffee and catch up. Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, I will be announcing really soon details of an “update event” I will be having when I’m home. All is welcomed to come!
“To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
Cape Aghulus. Finally made it to the true southern tip of Africa. (as I live on the most southern western point!) About a 3 hour drive and is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.
Amazing Race! last challenge for the day. Teen teams had to “cross the red sea” to complete the day’s events.
After school clubs for kids. Sometimes, my car gets a free tune up.
Monkey Town outing with some teens.
Sive and I met a new friend
Joshua took the prize for best burning bush
amazing time meeting and working with this Aussie team. Part of the team consisted of a family of 4 kids (hint hint to my friends/family with kids)
fyi: South Africa does April Fools too. Yep, that’s my car all tied up