We have a public holiday on January 16th here in South Africa called the Day of Reconciliation. My husband, Fred, had gone to the gym on this holiday, which is his usual daily routine, and as he was sitting in the sauna, he was practicing his memory verses. A gentleman then walked into the sauna to join him, and asked him what he was saying. He shared that he was reciting Romans chapter 1, which then lead the man to ask, “So…what is your job…and what do you do?”
Fred then paused for a minute, trying to think of the best way to explain that he was a missionary, and then replied to the gentleman, “I am a minister of reconciliation”.
Fred had never before replied with this response, but the Holy Spirit gave him the words to say, and the gentleman then wanted to know what that meant. Here Fred sat, in a sauna, on the Day of Reconciliation, and a man was wanting to know how to be reconciled to God! Fred then shared the good news of the gospel to this man, and that day a new life was born for God’s kingdom!
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation…and God has given us the ministry of reconciliation…Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ!”
God wants to use us in every circumstance of our lives, to be an ambassador for Him, and to help those around us to be reconciled to Him. Please pray for our missionaries living in South Africa – that we’d be faithful ministers of reconciliation. Pray that God would use us in every situation that we may find ourselves…even in the sauna, at the gym.
Since 2009, in the Great Rift Valley of Western Kenya, there is church planting movement happening called “The Rabbit Church Movement”. This name was given as the churches in this region are multiplying like rabbits, mud hut to mud hut, village to village. More than 10,000 churches, like the one pictured above, have started since 2009! They have gone to the 14th generation in depth!
How did this happen you might ask? 2 Timothy 2:2 says: “the things that you have heard from me (Paul) among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” – and that’s exactly how this church reproduction has happened. One man, training another, who then also trains another – and groups form – and house churches begin.
Will you pray now that this same model will happen all over Africa? Pray for all the missionaries, and those they are training/teaching, that much fruit would come from their labor!
Do you see this man? He is the pastor of “Rooted Fellowship”, in Pretoria, South Africa. This is a new church which has only been in existence for 3 years. We have been casting vision constantly to do evangelism and discipleship training, and there is a huge interest amongst the leadership of the church. We know that God’s timing is always perfect, and He is in control of when this training will take place. Please join us in praying for the timing of this training.
Look closely at this picture! Do you see the man in the foreground with bare feet? This business man, Leon, aged 50, almost died twice this year. This past February he came down with a very rare bacterial infection which over took his entire body. He went from a very fit, healthy young man, to one whose life was almost taken from him. Twice his four girls, ranging in age from 4-18, were called in by their mother to say goodbye to their dad.
Now for some background. Back in September 2017 this small group of Christians started meeting together in Leon’s home for the purpose of learning how to be a “disciple who makes disciples”. From September until when Leon got sick, this small group met to learn some “tools” to help them obey the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus commands His followers to “Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded them…”. Then in February 2018 Leon got terribly sick, and was in ICU for several weeks. We stood by his hospital bedside, praying to the Lord to spare his life. God heard our prayers, and has allowed Leon to slowly recover. It is now August, and Leon is recovering day by day. GOD HAS USED THIS ILLNESS TO GET HIS ATTENTION. Leon and his family (who host this group),have now expressed their desire to make this discipleship group “church”. We will need a larger meeting place than this living room pictured, and are prayerful for God’s perfect will to be done in this next step. Will you pray right now for Leon and his family? Pray for complete healing for his body, and protection over his family. Please pray for a new location for us to meet, and pray for this body of believers, that much fruit for God’s kingdom will result from this church plant.
Any involvement in ministry has its ups and downs.
In Fort Dauphin, we just wrapped up a week of ups! Sixty brothers and sisters in Christ came together every day this past week to learn under the teachings of a seminary professor and pastor from the States. In the mornings, they studied and discussed Christian Ethics. These sessions included much conversation about cultural influences on a Christian’s life. In the end, the Word of God is the plumb-line. Each afternoon, they looked at God’s grace. What an amazing study with unfathomable reason, but for grace! These individuals represent 25 churches that have been planted in recent years. There was not enough space for all our partners, but these individuals will go back and teach their disciples and congregations what they’ve learned. Pray they will continue to ponder the truths they learned as they teach others and spur one another on. Also, praise God for all he’s done and is going to do in the Antandroy and Antanosy regions!
In April a group of 11 business men gave up their precious free time to meet together to learn how to be a disciple who makes disciples. Their free time is so precious to them, yet they were eager and excited to be learning some “tools” on how to better be a witness to those whom they work with, and encounter in their day. They left this Saturday training knowing how to start spiritual conversations which allow them an open door for sharing the Good News of the Gospel. They also learned how to share their testimonies, and how to effectively share the Gospel in a time-sensitive way.
Will you pray for these 11 men? Pray this month that they’d continue to put into practice all that they learned, and pray that much fruit would come from their spiritual conversations.
How often do plans get changed?
Why are we surprised?
Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Yet when it comes to plans any change can be so hard to accept. Recently, there was a bush trip planned. Brett and Katelyn were so excited to follow up with a village they had shared at previously. About two and a half hours into the trip, their car broke down. They wanted to press on but were advised to turn back so the car could be repaired and they could be safe. They obliged. But it wasn’t until they arrived in town after being towed in and got the news that the issue with the car was serious that they accepted the change and were thankful they’d turned back. The next day they got word that the national partner they were going to work with had a baby that morning. We don’t always know why plans change, but we can rest assured that God is not surprised. His ways are higher than our ways. May we trust him at all times in all ways!
It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Our family was all dressed and ready for church. We got in our car, ready to drive to our morning place of worship, when behold, our car wouldn’t start. At the very same time that my husband was trying to figure out why our car wouldn’t start, I was receiving a WhatsApp message from my Muslim friend, Sarah*, asking how I was doing. This friend of mine lives in a different country than I, but we used to live in the same location. I RARELY receive messages from her unless I have initiated first. This is particular morning I find this unusual. It’s also unusual that our brand-new Toyota Fortuner car is not starting.
We have learned to see God is all of our circumstances. “All things work together for good to those who love God” says Romans 8:28. So I immediately start wondering what this means for our morning – this message from my friend, and our car not allowing us to go to church. Our university son who just happens to be with us mentions watching a sermon on TV. We turn it on and the pastor ‘just happens’ to be preaching on Mark 5 – the story of the lady who has had bleeding for 12 years, and how she reached out her hand to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. THIS IS THE STORY I HAVE SHARED WITH SARAH ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS. Sarah has had bleeding, infertility, and many miscarriages the last few years, and she longs to get pregnant. I have encouraged her to “reach out to Jesus” just as the lady in this story. I have even given her a Bible in her own language, Urdu, and she has been reading the Bible.
Is this coincidence that we are kept from church, that I have received a message from Sarah at the exact time, and that this pastor is preaching the exact story which Sarah knows well? Could it be that God is showing me right now to pray for her, to share the story to her again, and to spend my morning reaching out to her instead of going to church? I believe my purpose on this Sunday morning is doing just that: connecting with Sarah.
I then share this happening with Sarah, and I remind her of Jesus’ love for her. Will you pray for Sarah right now? She is searching for truth. Jesus is her truth. Pray that she would reach out for His hem, and receive the truth into her heart. Also pray that Jesus would do a miracle for her – and allow her to conceive a child. Jesus wants her to be His child, and He can also give her her own child. This is my prayer.
Making disciples is a journey. It takes each believer along a learning curve that is continually ebbing, flowing and growing. The vastness of strategies, ideas, trainings and books that offer suggestions for what’s best can be overwhelming. In the midst of all these amazing ideas and tools, one truth remains, the plumb line, the best strategy, the Word of God. As missionaries and national partners go out proclaiming the gospel and seeking to make disciples it’s important to take many things into consideration including context, reproducibility, longevity and end goal. It’s also just as important to know “what’s next”. Each time a new relationship is formed or a group meets, the missionary or national partner, every believer, should ask themselves, “what’s next?”
In Fort Dauphin and the surrounding bush villages much thought, discussion and planning has gone into this process of making disciples. There is continuing discussion on best practices and consideration for what needs to change. Two years ago a group consisting of the six leaders over Antandroy and Antanosy work met together. Recently, another group of leaders over these same two regions met. This time there were 30 leaders. The gospel is spreading. Disciples are making disciples. Workers and leaders alike are rising up. As you pray for this work to continue, don’t forget to ask yourself, “What’s Next?”
This sounds like an unusual title, and an unusual prayer request, but this is exactly what we ask you to do for us. In Exodus 17 the Bible tells of how Joshua and his army were victorious over the Amalekites only when Aaron and Hur supported his hands. When Moses’ hands dropped down, the Israelites would be defeated, but they were victorious when his hands were held up. This is a model for us in prayer. This past weekend, March 10th and 11th, our two families who work in Pretoria (see the two men on the far left and far right) did a very intensive discipleship training at a church in the Durban area. More than 60 people were trained with “tools” in how to be “a disciple who makes disciples”. Luke 10:2 says: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, PRAY to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers” – and this is what we need you now to do…PRAY. These individuals have been trained now to go into the harvest with their testimonies and the gospel of Jesus. Will you support their/our hands through prayer? Satan HATES what we do when we teach followers how to share the gospel, and he loves to cause trials or distractions to stop us/others from doing what God has called us to do. PLEASE pray for boldness, courage, and for much fruit to result for God’s kingdom.