Friday, October 20, 2017

Because she's just that kind of girl...

Yesterday, something Bill Hybels said in a talk at the Global Leadership Summit took me back to my childhood.

I wasn't a model child. My brother always said something went wrong when I started High School and got hooked up with the wrong crowd, but I think they just brought out what was deep down inside of me anyway. My behaviour was far from exemplary...and yes, I got progressively worse after going to High School, but maybe that had to do with finally understanding a lot of things that had already happened in my past. The anger that erupted somewhere between 7th and 8th grade was there all the time...bubbling, steaming, hissing...and when it all came to the surface, it wasn't pretty. No one wanted to be around me...and I don't blame them...I didn't want to be round myself...I didn't like myself one bit and it showed. I made people uncomfortable...

But there was someone who never gave up on me regardless of how irrational my behaviour became. She didn't have to stick around, she just did because she's just that kind of girl...she was loyal to a fault, blunt at times, but always honest and trustworthy. She never ratted on me or gossiped about me even when she could have won "cool" points with others who did. And when the Lord Jesus came into her life, she would not take no for an answer...she bugged me until I agreed to go with her to a Youth For Christ Crusade.

Georine knew me when I was at my worst. She knew everything single dirty secret of mine, every single private sin as well as every public sin I had committed...but she saw something in me no one else did...she saw something in me I didn't see. And I owe her my life...so this short blog is to say 'thank you' to a person who is the embodiment of the God of Scripture...the one whose love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out on me (1).

She didn't have to, but she did because she's just that kind of girl...

Thanks Gerry...I will always be eternally grateful for your love and friendship.

(1) Songwriters: Brian Johnson / Christa Black / Jeremy Riddle
One Thing Remains lyrics © Music Services, Inc

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Entering Mozambique

Louise and I will be flying up to Johannesburg and then driving to Maputo, Mozambique, next week, 24 to 29 October. From Maputo, we will be driving up to Maciene in the northern region of the Southern Diocese of Lebombo. Apparently, it takes several hours to get there.


We are asking for prayer on a number of levels.

1. That we will be a blessing to everyone we encounter, from the moment we enter then country the moment we leave.
2. That our disciple-making training will be understood. We are using an interpreter who is well versed in our training material, but we are still asking the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts and minds of those who will be trained so that they might understand on a deeper level than merely the mind. 
3. That we will be protected from all harm, whether physical or spiritual or emotional. The drive is long and the roads are not always the best. Also, Mozambique is just emerging from a long and bloody civil war. There are many who are not completely satisfied with the current situation. Also, on a spiritual level, apparently demonic possession has increased since the war...these spirits, called gamba, are identified by some as dead soldiers, and overwhelmingly possess women. Wherever we go, we plead the blood of Jesus over the area and those living there as so much blood has been spilled in southern Africa as a whole, but this is something different from what we have experienced up until now.
4. That we will not be harassed by people seeking bribes...either at the border or anywhere else. This often happens in places where "officials" are not paid well. 
5. For health...against malaria (not really the time, but we pray against that odd mosquito), and any other illnesses. We are up to date on all our vaccines, but contaminated food and water can cause all sorts of problems.

Thank you for praying with and for us...thank you for holding the rope as we descend into this dark, but spiritual gem-filled mine.

Many blessings.
Johann and Louise

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day...

So others have these kinds of days too...
Honest Conversations from Around the World. Literally. 
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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

By Anisha Hopkinson on Oct 13, 2017 02:00 am
One of my favourite stories of all time is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. If you haven’t read it, you really should! This post is written with thankfulness to Judith Viorst, the author of Alexander’s bad day, who taught me many years ago that, “Some days are like that”.
The Very Bad Day
We lost power last night and it was so hot without the fan I couldn’t sleep. Then my neighbour’s rooster decided to take advantage of the fan-less quiet night and crow under my window till dawn. I definitely couldn’t sleep. This morning my clothes on the line still weren’t dry so I had to wear damp underwear and I could tell it was going to be, as Judith Viorst says, a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
At breakfast my husband ate weet-bix and my son ate coco puffs and I picked the cornflakes and there were ants in my cornflakes. My powdered milk was lumpy even though I used a whisk.
I think I’ll move back to Florida.
On the way to the market my son kicked off his flip flop and it fell into the ditch. I tried to be nice and get it out, but the ditch is a sewer and I couldn’t reach his shoe with a stick and it made me gag. I cried and yelled at him for kicking off his shoe and he cried and yelled at me for being a mean mom.
Before heading out to teach kindergarten co-op I forgot to make coffee and so forgot to bring craft supplies. Instead of an educational activity to finish off the lesson I sent the kids to the playground for 45 minutes because who can remember craft supplies with no coffee?
When I got home I checked e-mail and saw a message from another missionary mom. I’d told her I was tired and it’s hard to parent and home school my son overseas and she said she was pregnant and homeschooling three children when she was overseas. Yeah well that’s nice for you, I thought. And even though Jesus says to love your enemies I hated her for being able to do what I can’t. I’m pretty sure Jesus wasn’t talking about other missionary moms.
I think I’ll move back to Florida.
For lunch I ate tofu and rice for the 186th time in a row. My food was dry so I added hot sauce, but I added too much and it burned my mouth and made my eyes water.
It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
After lunch we called for an update on our visa renewals and after months of waiting and promises that today would be the day we were told to try again tomorrow.
Yeah well tomorrow I’ll be in Florida.
This afternoon the neighbours threw a party and parked motorcycles in front of our house and blocked the gate. I couldn’t open the gate. I hate the neighbours.
For dinner I ate tofu and rice for the 187th time in a row because the cargo planes are down for maintenance and the shops ran out of flour and chicken.
In the evening the power went out during my shower and I had to stand in the pitch black hoping there was still fuel in the generator so I didn’t have to go to sleep with shampoo in my hair. My husband said there was no fuel so I had to rinse as best I could with the water still in the pipes. I cried in the dark. I hate the dark.
When I went to bed the rooster crowed beneath my window. I really hate that rooster.
It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
But Judith Viorst is right, “Some days are like that.”
Even in Florida.
***
On the very bad days, humour and writing keep me from packing my bags and moving back to Florida. Have you had a very bad day recently? Write your own in the comments and share it with us.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

September Update

In the film “Forrest Gump”, the lead character says, “My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” This is very true of life in the Anglican Province of Southern Africa. When you first meet someone, you are not quite sure of their churchmanship…high church, low church, or anything in-between church…charismatic, evangelical…and then there are conservatives, liberals, progressives...the whole gamut. So, I have learned to do a lot of listening before I say anything lest I inadvertently offend a potential disciple and lose them even before we begin.

The brilliance of the material we use to teach intentional disciple-making is that it is a mere structure based on the model of Jesus…the windows and doors and furnishings must be supplied by the person using the scaffolding we provide in our training. Whether that be Rooted in Jesus, The God Who Is There, Alpha, Pilgrim, or any number of possible studies that will bring the disciple into a deeper walk with Jesus…that is the ultimate goal. To walk with and as Jesus walked…anchored in the Word, empowered and in step with the Holy Spirit, energised by constant prayer.

As homework, the trainees are given a 60-Day Chronological Study of the Life of Jesus to complete. There are accompanying free videos online for them watch if they have Internet access. If not, the study stands on it’s own. I also encourage them to do a chronological study of the Bible as well as this will give them a firm foundation on which to stand when engaging in disciple-making.

Last week, I (Johann – Louise is not with me on this trip L) attended the three-day Provincial Standing Committee Meeting. While not officially invited to attend as a member, I did have the opportunity to address the participants together with the head of Growing the Church, Bishop Martin Breytenbach. It seems that merely being introduced by Archbishop Thabo was enough to open a number of doors for me. The title “The Reverend Doctor” was used and the assembly was told that we had started and run a theological College in Ethiopia…at that point it seemed as if I gained credibility…not the way I wanted it to be, but titles are important here, and if that’s the way forward, then so be it.

I managed to talk to Bishops and representatives from all the Dioceses in the Province save St Helena Island…Niassa, Angola, and Namibia all want us to come and do training in their respective areas. Praise the Lord for this! Pray that Growing the Church will receive the necessary funds to be able to make all these trips! Our budget was cut in half recently.

From PSC I went up to the city of Polokwane in the north-eastern part of South Africa to train seven members of the Volunteer Internship Program (VIP), or the Secret Seven as I like to call them. This Diocese is biblically well grounded and the participants already deeply engaged in kingdom ministries. We will return to this Diocese in February next year.


From Polokwane I returned to the Gauteng area…here I will train Diocesan representatives together with a few of the faculty members we have trained on previous occasions.

On the way down, I stopped to see Louise’s aunt who had just had gallbladder surgery. We spent a good two hours chatting about the Lord and all He means to us. When I first arrived she was out of breath and obviously in pain, but after we prayed together, she seemed to be much better. The change was actually quite remarkable. Praise the Lord for that too!

I will report later on the training here in Gauteng. We are going into a busy month, but most of our activities will be centred in and around Cape Town. I miss Louise and I am looking forward to my return on Sunday.

Love you all.
Blessings.
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Johann and Louise

Monday, September 18, 2017

Facing Outwards

When asked which way she was facing, the Queen at first said she would need to think about it…but soon she said clearly and with great conviction: “I am facing outwards…what I see in the picture is my past and it is behind me. My future, known only to God, lies before me…outside the picture.” I believe she is right. While we can look back over our lives and see the path that that God has taken us – and though we can scrutinise that path and observe the Lord’s presence with us along the way – we simply cannot see one millisecond ahead of us. Our future is known only to God, and so it wise to leave it in His hands.


So here’s my question: If the future is known only to God, why do we fret over tomorrow? If we look back over our lives and see His constant presence with us, why do we look forward into the future as if He is somehow absent?



Sunday, September 17, 2017

Which way are you facing?

The Queen has a lovely ink drawing given to her by Louise and Marianne on her wedding day to Oom Corrie. For those of you who don’t know, the Queen is my mum-in-law. She is 92 years young and still going strong.

Today I asked her about the drawing…which way is she facing? Is she facing inwards looking towards the path, or outwards, walking out of the picture with the path behind her? At first she simply looked at me as if I had a third eye…I get a lot of those looks from her (coming to think about it, I get a lot of those looks from many folks)…but then she said she’d have to think about it.

Before I tell you what she said, I want you to ponder the same question. If that path is your life, which way are you facing? And please, do tell me why...