Saturday, August 19, 2017

1975, Jaws, and Kindness...

The year was 1975…the movie Jaws was the cause a many a panic stricken stampede out of the surf on the beaches around Cape Town. My parents had acquired the same rooms they always stayed in at the Van Riebeeck Hotel in Gordon’s Bay and were occupied doing what they always did those days…and I…well, I was mostly alone, reading books and drinking cola-tonics in the public lounge. I can’t remember why I was alone…but I do remember that I was rather lonely.



A group of young navy chaps regularly frequented the public lounge as well. They noted that I was always alone and for some or other reason allowed me to hang out with them. One chap in particular took me under his wing and taught me how to swim out to sea and how to float among other things. Once when going for a drive with his parents, he asked if I would like to come along. Of course I wanted to and I did…the option of sitting alone at the hotel reading whatever I was reading at the time wasn’t all that appealing in comparison.

Sadly, I don’t remember any of their names. When my parents returned to Namibia at the end of the holidays we parted company and I never heard from any of them again. Those were the days before email and Face Book. But I do remember their kindness. They didn’t have to take pity on a lonely and gangly teenager, but they did.

As I drove past Gordon’s Bay the other day, I thought about this moment in time. Kindness is so rare…no wonder I remember this event so vividly. Of course I wish I could remember their names. All I want to do now is say thank you.

-->
But it also serves as a lesson to me and to others. It costs you nothing to be kind other than time and perhaps a bit of effort and patience. Why not look for someone to whom you can show a bit of kindness today? You never know how much it may mean to them…even for years to come…


Monday, August 14, 2017

17 more disciple-makers...

Louise and I hit the road again last Thursday...this time we were headed for the little fishing village of Arniston to train two groups from the Parish of All Saints. This includes, All Saints and Die Heilige Gees, Bredasdorp, St Mary’s, Struisbaai, St Saviour’s, Napier, St Andrews, Arniston, St John’s Klipdale, St Peter’s Ouplaas and Hasiesdrif.

The first group of six was made up of the priest-in-charge, Fr Piet Minaar, three more clergy and two lay leaders. This was a lively group and we had wonderful conversations with many questions and discussions.




The second group of eleven was laity only. However, a large portion of this group was made up of young people. They tended to be quieter and more reflective than the first group, perhaps because in their culture youngsters usually do not talk in the presence of elders. We realised very quickly that most did not fully comprehend English and we switched to their mother tongue, namely Afrikaans.








Thokozani knows very little Afrikaans, but he only spoke to the first group, so he was ok. Louise and Abigail did so well…I shot a short video clip of Louise teaching on the 4 chairs…but oh me, I struggled. But we prayed and persevered and in the end it was evident that everyone understood the material. When I did a review on Sunday morning, the young people especially responded with the correct answers…it seems the ice finally broke and they came out of their shells.


I also was afforded the honour of preaching during the Morning Prayer service at the Anglican Church of St Andrew’s…in Afrikaans, of course. In the providence of God, the passage was about Peter and I could tell the parishioners all about what we were teaching about…that if we want to be disciple-makers who make disciple-makers, we have to rely on the Lord, not on ourselves, our strengths, our gifts, or our bravado. Peter had to learn that lesson the hard way…and so do many of us!



Unfortunately, we did not get to do much site seeing in spite of the fact that this is a tourist mecca. But we did go out to a small local restaurant called Willeen’s and enjoyed local fare there. Perhaps next time… 

Abigail is originally from Bredasdorp, so we spent some time with her family and friends…it was a wonderful time of fellowship and fun! They made us some traditional potjiekos…food made in a black cast-iron pot layer by layer on an open fire…together with bread made in another cast-iron pot alongside the other one. Manna from heaven!



Please keep the trainees in your prayers as they now seek to implement what they have learned, go through the 60 Day Chronological Study on the Life of Jesus, and prayerfully look for those they Lord wants them to disciple. Each participant is expected to have at least one disciple by his or her side as soon as possible! Can you imagine if 17 disciple-makers make one more disciple each in the next few months…and if each of those disciples make one more each and so on…


Monday, August 7, 2017

Training in the western Cape




We trained a few representatives from three of the western Cape Diocese this past weekend. While not quite as many as we had hoped for, it was a wonderful weekend and every trainee left saying they would arrange for trainings to take place in their own Archdeaconries and Diocese. Please pray for them.





From left to right: 

Back Row: The Rev Basil Davids, Ron Begbie, Andile Sigasana, Estelle Adams, Carol Manual, Ricardo Eslar, Lulama Sigasana, Barry Betz, The Rev Trevor Pearce

Front Row: Mary-Ann Peters, Delmaine Petersen, Dr Thomas Blake (seated), Louise Vanderbijl, Jacqueline Heynes.

Monday, July 31, 2017

If a problem is solvable...

From a distance I saw them. Two young women…hardly women…girls, more like it…walking down the street, the one wrapped in a cheap, dirty blanket, the other scarcely covered, her bare legs bruised and scarred with cigarette burn marks. Who are these girls? Where do they come from? They are just two of many who stand at street corners day and night in the area where we live. What made them turn to a life of prostitution, subjecting themselves to being violated night after night by vile men who live duplicitous lives? Is there a parent watching through a window, waiting for the return of the prodigal…or is the parent already overburdened with life, trying to maintain a house filled with too many mouths to feed with little or no income…or is there no parent at all? My heart bled…

There are way too many homeless people all around us. Beggars fight each other at traffic lights as they defend their territory. Men, women, and children unashamedly scratch around in trash bins looking for something to stave off the hunger pains. Many sleep among the graves in the graveyards…some on the sidewalks…others under bridges or bushes. Those who are fortunate enough to find a small job here or there, live in shacks made out of iron and plastic sheeting…shacks that leak when it rains or are flattened when the wind blows. And this, twenty years after apartheid was dismantled! It is not as if there is no money…it is not uncommon to see the latest models of expensive motor vehicles whizzing by. Pricey restaurants are filled to capacity every night. The malls are filled with shoppers…there is money…somewhere.

And it is not that there is no Christian presence here either…many churches are involved in some or other philanthropic endeavour. But usually that is a side line item in the otherwise attraction centred model of church growth. Dirty, unwashed, and unkempt souls are not generally the kind of people the more fortunate enjoy hanging out with. But wait…this sounds all too familiar…just read the four Gospels.

In his book, The Christ of the Indian Road, Stanley Jones relates how he once asked Mahatma Gandhi how to naturalize Christianity into India. Gandhi apparently replied in part: “I would suggest first of all that all of you Christians, missionaries and all begin to live more like Jesus Christ.” Which makes me wonder what he would have said about the Church of Jesus Christ in southern Africa…or, more pointedly, what Jesus might have said were He to address us today. In our behaviour, do we mirror the ecclesiastical elite of 1st Century Palestine…or do we mirror the one who came to serve, not to be served…the one who came to give His life a ransom for many…the one who was accused of being a friend of tax-collectors and sinners? Do I even need to answer that question?

It is true that we simply cannot help everyone…but everyone can help someone. If every person attending a church could be trained to take just one person under their wing…just one…surely we could make quite a dent in the problems we encounter in this society. General Jan Smuts, one time leader of South Africa and friend of Winston Churchill, apparently used to say that if a problem is solvable, it is no longer a problem. The problem of vagrancy, prostitution, and poverty is solvable…if only all our parishioners were trained to make disciples like Jesus made disciples…if only our Christians lived more like Christ.

Growing the Church has a wonderful tool that is simple and yet life-changing…if only we can get it out there. Some Dioceses (especially in the Gauteng area where we have done two trainings and will do another at the end of August – as well as Mpumalanga in September) have responded positively and we have trained a number of folk there. Some of these trainees have embraced the material and have used it to teach many more. But there are still many who have not responded at all. Our introductory trip to the Eastern Cape has yet to show any fruit…

Please pray with us for the removal of all obstacles…this disciple-making material can change the spiritual landscape of southern Africa! I believe that with all my heart…because it is the very same model Jesus used.

Pray for our three day training in the Western Cape this weekend and for a possible training in Arniston next weekend!

On a more personal note, please continue to pray for our support raising efforts. We are still not up to snuff on our SAMS-USA budget. Please pray with us to the Lord of the Harvest, as this is quite troubling.

Please pray for our children and grandchildren.
Hanno and Lauren – Jeremiah (soon to be 6), Beatrix (2), and Constance (just over one month old). Jeremiah has broad-spectrum autism, but is doing well, even at school. Beatrix and Constance were born with a genetic disorder that causes severe hearing impairment. Beatrix has cochlear implants now and seems to be doing very well. Constance must still jump through all the medical hoops to get hers. Please pray for them as a family as they deal with these challenges. But, from what we can see, they are a happy family with ready smiles.
Heyns and Hanna – Amelia (18 months) is the sunshine of their lives and is quite a character, and Baby E (yes!). They will be flying over to visit us mid-August. Pray for a wonderful time of love and fellowship and bonding. We do miss them all so!

Please pray for the ministry of Growing the Church. Our budget was cut in half this year…there is still so much work to be done out there!

Please pray for Louise’s 92-year-old mum…affectionately known as the Queen. She is still struggling with wounds on her shins. We are able to pop over the mountain every now and again to see her for which we are truly grateful.

And lastly, please pray for rain. While we are thankful for the rain and snow we have had, we are all too aware of the alarmingly low water levels in the major dams. We need much more rain and a lot more snow in the catchment areas especially.


Thank you for being there for us…you are all appreciated. May the Lord bless you way beyond your wildest thoughts.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sigh no more...

I was thinking about the hoohah in the church of late and the way in which both sides fling dung one at the other...and the song of Balthazar came to mind...set in a play of intrigue and plotting and fickleness and naiveté. Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, Men were deceivers ever; One foot in sea and one on shore, To one thing constant never. Then sigh not so, But let them go, And be you blithe and bonny, Converting all your sounds of woe Into Hey nonny, nonny. Sing no more ditties, sing no more Of dumps so dull and heavy; The fraud of men was ever so, Since summer first was leavy. Then sigh not so, But let them go, And be you blithe and bonny, Converting all your sounds of woe Into Hey nonny, nonny.

Monday, July 24, 2017

URGENT APPEAL

In a recent conversation with Denise Cox, Associate Director of SAMS-USA, our sending agency, we were told that we are still running between $1,000 and $1,500 short of our monthly budgeted amount. That means SAMS is dipping into our reserves to pay our monthly stipends. If this reserve drops below a certain level, SAMS will have no option other than to call us back off the field.

This news comes at a strange time, as we are busier now than we have been in a long time. The disciple-making course, Strategy, is being taught to so many people, clergy and laity alike, young and old alike, with many more trainings scheduled in the months to come. Of course, we are cognisant of the fact that we have an adversary who is never pleased when the kingdom advances, but we are also well aware of the fact that nothing can thwart the will of God…and that our God hearkens to the prayers of His people.

So, we are asking that you join us in praying to the Lord of the Harvest, not only to continue to send out more labourers into the harvest field, but also to raise up supporters for those labourers. If you know of anyone who might be interested in supporting us in our ministry in southern Africa, please pass on our information.

And please…also join us in praying for rain. If we do not get more rain this year, there will be no water for the people, animals, and plant life of the western Cape come summer.


With all our love and God's richest blessings.

Johann and Louise

-- 
A Christianity without a passion to turn the world upside down is not reflective of apostolic Christianity.  Carl F. H. Henry

The Rev Dr Johann W H van der Bijl III
SAMS Missionaries
+1 27 72 958 5845

Thursday, July 20, 2017

St Paul's Anglican Church: George Diocese

When we toured the Eastern Cape area a week ago, our first stop was in the Diocese of George. The evening prior to our meeting with the Bishop, Canon, and Archdeacons, Lyndon Du Plessis, our GtC coordinator, showed us around the city of George and, more especially the areas where he and he and his wife Corine work. It is mostly a poor to impoverished area...some folks live in shacks and cook outside around campfires. But we were so blessed when he took us to meet his choir...made up of people from all walks of life, none of them professionally trained...but oh! What a heavenly sound! I think even the angels were commanded to be silent and listen...