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...


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 15

I was reminded of our donkeys on my father’s farm as we travelled back home yesterday. Speed was not their forte on the way from their place of abode…but just turn them around! The moment they realised they were headed on back to the kraal, they galloped as if a demon from hell itself was pursuing them. All this to say, we made good time on our way back to Cape Town…

We had a long way ahead of us, but we had a late start…how could we refuse a full English farmhouse breakfast with some of the dearest people we now have the privilege of calling friends? Or better still, family in Jesus. Keith and Pam went out of their way to make us feel welcomed and loved.

All of those we met these past two weeks were wonderful and kind hosts…we truly experienced Christian hospitality at its best. Thank you one and all.

Unfortunately, my Man Cold has taken a turn downhill. I now sound like a nasally Mr Toad from Wind in the Willows.  Croak.  Thankfully, Louise is still fine.

We came home to a warm welcome from those who were at the GtC office. It is always nice to know one was missed.

John Ramsdale, who had promised to do some research into Arthur’s work at Zonnebloem, had also left two photocopied pages taken from a three volume work which he found in one of the cupboards at the College. The author cites statements made by Bishop Gray and Arthur’s superior, Glover, in which Arthur is described as “a teacher of outstanding ability” and as “an energetic good man” who “shows much kindness to the boys, making friends of them as well as out of school as in school.” The author then goes on to say that “it was provident that a man of such a calibre had been chose as Sub-Warden, for Glover resigned his post in May 1869 and Lomax had the entire responsibility of superintending the College for the next two years.” I do need to see this work for myself, as the author cites letters and reports that may yet be in existence somewhere.

All in all, I must say, this trip was rewarding.  Time alone will tell how many will respond positively to our challenge to set dates for future trainings, but we trust that the Lord will water the seeds sown and provide the growth in His good time. We heard that some Anglican priests were trained by J-Life this past weekend in Queenstown in spite of our struggle to meet with our coordinators. We trust that they will now meet up with Siphiwo and together make a concerted effort to get the training up and running through the Mbashe Diocese.

Lord, in Your mercy…hear our prayer.

This ends the travel diary of our short trip to the Eastern Cape.

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Stay tuned for more exciting news as the Lord opens doors for ministry through the Province!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 14

I have the Man Cold. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbmbMSrsZVQ Louise will tell you I am a miserable sod when I have a cold...I'm bad enough when I'm healthy, but when I have a cold I become a pitiful, pathetic please-feel-sorry-for-me blob. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but I do feel very sorry for myself when I have a cold.

However, I do have the ability to rise to the occasion when I have to, and as we still had two presentations today, one this morning and one this evening, I had to swallow hard and carry on. Both sessions were rather informative...the questions put to us after the presentation always reveal the pulse of the parish or diocese. Today was no different. We are surprised that so many months after the Provincial Synod's charge to Growing the Church to find a way to promote the Archbishop of Canterbury's challenge for global intentional discipleship, there are still many on the parish level that know nothing about it. This is one of the reasons we have taken to the road to inform the people in the various Dioceses of this new Disciple-making material taught by GtC...and everywhere, we have had positive responses with people wanting to set dates. But the setting of dates is not our prerogative...that has to be set by the Diocese itself...and so we can do little more than leave the ball in their court with a prayer that the Holy Spirit will lead and direct their deliberations in the future.

Both presentations today were very positive. The Plettenberg Bay Community is rather diverse with rich and poor rubbing gathering together as one parish. In the morning session, we also had a

representative from the local Community Church attending who would like to do the course with the Anglicans. Wonderful!

This evening, representatives from a poorer area came to hear about our LEAD program. They were so excited and also wanted to know when we were coming to do the training. All we can do is pray and encourage.

Tomorrow we head on home...this will be a long day...between 6 to 7 hours of driving with a stop or two. But we need to get the rental car back before 5 PM if we are to avoid extra charges. So, we push on though...man cold or not...


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 13

Today was a driving day...that's basically all we did all day. We left East London at 7:30, admittedly a little later than we had planned, but both of us were...actually are...tired. We had no meetings and, other than Louise calling Mother's Union and AWF leaders to remind them of a breakfast on July 15 when we will introduce the LEAD material to them, we did not really do any work type stuff.

Unfortunately, the CD player and radio in the car has a rather bad stutter...so we couldn't listen to music. We talked a lot...about our children and grandchildren...about our ministry...about the Lord...we spoke to the Lord a lot too.

And we did not take a single photograph. We enjoyed the scenery...this really is one of the most beautiful parts of the world...we saw quite a few wild animals...we enjoyed lunch at a Greek Restaurant a stone's throw away from the beach at Jeffrey's Bay...and we enjoyed meeting Keith and Pam Berning, our hosts for tonight and tomorrow night in Plettenberg Bay.

We spoke to Pam at length about the LEAD program, we spoke about prayer, healing of memories (desperately needed in southern Africa!), we spoke about the churches in the area and their struggles, and oh so many other things.

We are about to enjoy a lovely dinner Keith has prepared for us, so if I don't have anything more to say, I will not return to this blog until tomorrow.  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 12

One of the favourite games Louise and I have played on this trip is the game of dodgem...dodgem taxis, dodgem people, dodgem animals, and, our all time favourite, dodgem potholes. We left Molteno at 7 AM, which doesn't sound early, but it is still not quite light at that time...so it was hard to spot potholes until you were right on top of them...unless, of course, some thoughtful person had painted a white line around the potholes...no kidding. They erect signs warning you of potholes and they paint around them with white paint, but they don't fix them. Go figure...

I can well understand why our ancestors wanted to settle in this area in spite of the awful winters. -1 this morning! But the landscape is simply stunning...the valleys and the hills...the flora and the fauna...add in the mist over the dams and lakes and rivers...add in the golden hues of pinks and lilacs of sunrise...and you have magic.

Our first stop today was in a town named after Queen Victoria...Queenstown. This is one of two Dioceses in which we have struggled to get appointments, but a dear gentleman by the name of Siphiwo requested to see us today...which, in turned out, was his birthday!
He wanted to know what we were doing so that he can pass on the information to the Bishop and the rest of the Diocese...but, more importantly, he wants us to train his parishioners how to disciple others. We did the introductory presentation with him and the Diocesan secretary and prayed with them. He showed us around the cavernous Cathedral of St Michaels and All Angels. Gorgeous building...and really interesting decor...among the typical stained glass windows and stone carvings, they have a brown Jesus behind the altar.

Then we had to push on to East London for our first meeting at St Mark's, Cambridge, at 12:30. East London is part of the Diocese of Grahamstown, but these folks are chomping at the bit...they are so ready for the disciple-making training, the only repeated, almost urgent question was when do we do this? There were 24 at this introductory session...other than Mthatha, this was the largest group we have addressed. They are all excitement and so we set a tentative date, subject, of course to the approval of their Bishop.

We then went to the Guest House where we will spend the night. The building belongs to a member of St Mark's Church, but he is a St Thomas Christian from Kerela. They trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the First Century. How fortuitous that we should be staying in a house owned by a man who is a Christian today because of the obedience of one of Jesus' original disciples...to make disciples of all nations...even if that meant crossing land and sea and cultures and languages to do so...not to mention, lose his life in the process.

After a short rest we returned to St Mark's for the second session.
This was not so well attended, but some key people were there with key ideas and key questions. It really only take one or two...that's the beauty of disciple-making. You don't need huge numbers, huge budgets, huge buildings, huge anything...you just need huge hearts filled with love for God and for people. It is that simple...

Tomorrow will be the longest drive yet...so it is time to find a pillow and get some shut-eye. Nighty night world...


Monday, July 3, 2017

Trip to the Eastern Cape: Day 11

We had quite an early start today as we had quite a way to drive! But...we didn't take into consideration how long we would have to wait at roadblocks...the particular road we travelled on today was under construction - all the way! The only thing worse than sitting waiting for the STOP sign to turn to GO is doing the job itself...it must be brain numbing to stand hour after hour waving a red flag to unsympathetic motorists or turning a sign over or pulling the plastic roadblock out of the way. We always greet everyone with a wave and a smile and they respond with the same every time.

As we have been going non stop since leaving Cape Town, we rewarded ourselves by taking the day off today. So we headed down memory lane, stopping off at another mission my great-grandfather had on his list. Dortrecht. The church in which he served as Rector is now in a sad state of disrepair...but the rest of the town doesn't look all that hot either. Sad, really.

Next, we headed off towards Molteno, a tiny town in the Eastern Cape where Louise's Dutch ancestors were friends with my British ancestors three generations ago. At the time, the British and Boers were not that happy with each other and a huge battle was fought right on Louise's grandfather's farm, Klipfontein.

Old man van Zyl thought thieves were trying to steal his sheep so he let rip with his rifle...unbeknownst to him, the trespassers were British soldiers trying to get some sleep in his barn - their mistake was that they didn't ask his permission first. When they heard the gun shots, they thought they were surrounded by Boer soldiers and they ran for the hills. In the end, it was a Boer victory, so maybe Old man van Zyl could take a pat on the back.

Louise's father was also born in Molteno in a small house just off main street - because there was no hospital back then. He also went to school here and ought to have inherited one of Old Man van Zyl's farms, but...well, it is a long and convoluted family story. There were coal mines here at one time, but after the war, they discovered that the grade of coal was inferior, so they closed the mines...the town had a brief boom period, but it quickly declined as residents left seeking their fortunes elsewhere.

One such resident was my great-uncle Ambrose Lomax. Ambrose was a chemist and amateur photographer. We visited his old shop today which has been converted into a Magistrate's Court, a library and a wee museum. In the museum we saw a photograph - a self-portrait - of Ambrose as well as a newspaper from April 1910 in which my grandfather is listed as having won a tennis match. My great-grandfather, Arthur, died in December 1910...I wonder if he was present when his son won this match?

We did visit the grave sites of both my great-grandfather and my great-grandmother Mary Ellen as well as Louise's father's grave...the former in Steynsburg, the latter in Molteno. Always strange visiting grave sites and wishing one could somehow tell them what is happening in our lives and hear what they had to say about that...maybe that is better left unsaid and unheard.

 Tonight we are staying over in a lovely Guest house called Olive's Cottage. On our way today, we received a call from the owner to say her husband had had a heart attack and they were in East London - he was having emergency heart surgery...but we could still get into the Cottage via a kind neighbour. We told her we would be praying and we called her just a wee while ago to hear how he is doing. Apparently everything went well...he is in recovery. Thank You Jesus.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. From Molteno we drive to Queenstown to meet with the coordinator of GtC in the Kahlamba Diocese. We meet him at 8 AM...so we will have to leave a freezing (literally) Molteno no later than 7 AM. Then on to East London for two meetings at St Mark's Cambridge, the first at 12H30 and the second at 17H30. So, it is an early night again tonight for us!

What a day...it has been a trip down memory lane and it has been fun.
Ambrose Lomax's Chemist and Photographic Studio