It is not often that I will repost something written about us, but this letter written by Nita Dempsey of SAMS-USA was so encouraging to us.
We had the privilege of hosting missionaries Johann and Louise Vanderbijl in our office in January. During their time with us they shared about their call to missionary service. Johann and Louise served in Gambella, Ethiopia where the climate can reach 140 F. degrees. Their ministry was church leadership development through a seminary that they helped to start. Louise was instrumental in organizing the library, cataloguing over 5000 books and Johann was one of the professors and the dean. Louise, a registered nurse, also assisted SAMS missionary, Dr. Wendy LeMarquand, in a Mother's Union training initiative.
As a result of the Mother’s Union training, the 50 infant funerals they had in the prior year went down to zero this last year. The African women learning the prevention techniques taught are taking these lessons into their villages, where they are very well received. The seminary is teaching and ordaining deacons and priests in the ministry. Many churches have been planted in the refugee camps. God is powerfully on the move in Gambella.
While they shared about their missionary calling, I was surprised to hear of their struggles with raising missionary support. This was a hurdle for them beyond the call to strange lands and harsh climates.
The Vanderbijls’ struggle with raising support impacted me because it was a hurdle that could have stopped them from moving forward in their missionary call to Ethiopia. As I listened to Johann share how the Lord helped him to trust His leading in asking for support and for prayers, I was aware that all of us have a place where we have to surrender our fears in complete trust of the Lord. That is the crossroads where God meets us. It is a humbling encounter, but that is exactly the posture we need to be in, to allow God’s work in us to happen. Johann shared how the Lord worked through this humbling experience to glorify Himself as He provided partners for their ministry beyond anything they had hoped for. The blessing of God’s provision was a foundation stone of faith for their ministry in Ethiopia. After the Vanderbijl presentation, we were praising God that they were able to do the good work the Lord empowered them to do.
The Lord continues to use this experience to reveal His love and care. The Vanderbijls walked two blocks to our office to say goodbye before they left our area. On the way, they picked up 15 pennies they found on the ground. They have been praying for $15,000.00 of additional yearly support that is needed for their new ministry assignment in the Province of Southern Africa. As Johann shared the irony of finding an exact fraction of what they need, he laughed at the audacity of thinking this could be a sign of the Lord’s future provision. I think he is right and we rejoice with him in an audacious God!
Thank you for being a part of the Lord’s provision for SAMS and your missionaries!
Yours in Christ,