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...

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Newsletter: September 2017

When Louise and I teach the Disciple Making (Strategy) Training Module, we always see the lights come on during the lesson on the timeline of Peter’s growth as a disciple. Perhaps there is a little bit of Peter in everyone of us and we can identify with his reluctance in the beginning, his zeal as a young follower of Jesus, his bravado as his self-confidence grew, his despair as he failed to meet his unrealistic expectations, his embarrassment and his lack of confidence after his very public denial, and his final surrender to the Lord…the place where he needed to be all along…where to be the rock solid leader he was destined to be he had to be solidly and squarely founded on the Rock of all Ages. Clergy and lay leaders have a hard life. Expectations all around are unrealistic…and they often try to meet those expectations in their own strength…and when they fail, people can be cruel. But not so Jesus…As with Peter He gently leads us back to the task of feeding the sheep; building us up instead of breaking us down.

Perhaps that’s why everyone gets excited at this point in the training…when Jesus is making us fishers of people, He wins, He builds, He equips, and He is with us every step of the way as He multiplies Himself in and through us.

So Peter offers us hope…

Louise and I have been very busy travelling around only a small part of this huge Province of Southern Africa. It has been a good experience as it has given us a glimpse into what is happening in the Anglican Church here. If we could sum it all up in one word, I think that word would be “tired”…everyone looks tired…some seem to have even given up. They need hope…they need the story of Peter.

We realise that without prayer, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, these dry bones simply cannot rise to be the force that will turn the world upside down. They certainly have the potential…the rock may be buried under the trials of so many in the Anglican Communion, but it is still there. Labour with us in prayer until the church’s one foundation is once more Jesus Christ, Her Lord.

We have done five full training session so far, most of which have been in the general Gauteng region…only one has been outside the borders of the South Africa, namely the one held in Swaziland. Over 100 men and women have been trained in the fundamentals of making disciples who can make disciples. We have also been busy introducing ourselves and the course to those who either do not know us or who do not know our training material. So far we have been pleasantly surprised with the kind manner in which we have been received. In most cases, dates have been set for training to take place in the respective Dioceses.

It involves a lot of travelling and it is costly because we have to make use of either air travel or rental vehicles, plus we have to pay for board and lodging. Some Dioceses have graciously offered hospitality for which we are always grateful. Pray that the Lord would provide a reliable vehicle for Growing the Church use.

Health wise we have been very well. Louise is struggling with her teeth lately and will need extensive dental work soon. Please pray for this as well as our medical insurance does not cover dental work. Our children are all doing well. Heyns, Hanna, and Amelia visited us this past month and soon after their return to the US they let us know that they are to have a baby boy some time in December! Hanno, Lauren, Jeremiah, Beatrix, and Constance are all doing well…Constance now has hearing aids and will have cochlear implants in the New Year. We do miss them all so much and wish we could see them more often…part of our cross, I suppose.

We are in Villiersdorp visiting the Queen and Louise’s family today, but we will be leaving for East London tomorrow. After training there, we will come back down again to George where we will do two training sessions back to back. Following that I leave for the Provincial Standing Committee Meeting in Johannesburg and will stay on that week to do a Diocesan-wide training session shortly afterwards.

Somewhere in the mix, we have to find space for Mozambique as well…

Pray that the folks we train will be energised and mobilized by the hope we find in the story of Peter…pray for a move of the Holy Spirit second to none throughout southern Africa…pray for rain…

We love and miss you all. We pray for you and lift you up before the throne of mercy and grace. Thank you for being our rope holders…bless you, one and all.

Johann and Louise

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Twenty-One.

A friend commented on my complaint of noisy guesthouses in one of my blog posts. She said I needed to use earplugs. The same day I received a WhatsApp message from a colleague at GtC asking for prayer for her brother and sister-in-law who woke up in the middle of the night to find an intruder in the bedroom with them. How this person got past the walls, security gates, electric fences, locked doors and an alarm remains a mystery. But the point is, you want all of your senses on high alert during the night especially – so, no earplugs for me, thank you very much!

We still had many miles to cover on our way back to Cape Town and the instinct to get home was strong…but not strong enough not to stop for a hearty breakfast…no, I did not say heart healthy breakfast. 

We also turned in to view the Lord Milner Hotel – an old historic Victorian building in the middle of absolute nowhere at a place called Matjiesfontein (roughly translated friend’s fountain) see here if you’re interested:
 From there it was a straight shot back home…just needed to take the rental car back. It really is a pity we don’t have a mission vehicle…it would make this sort of trip a lot less dear.

There was a lot to do at the flat plus we needed to see doctors (me) and dentists (Louise) and do laundry. It is the one time I am happy it is not raining in Cape Town.

The Cape Province is very dry. Farmers are struggling…many have used all their money to buy feed for their animals and are now dependent on donations. We are now up to level 5 restrictions on the use of water. See here:

Barring a miracle, Cape Town will face a very, very hard summer…there is a real possibility of running out of water completely.

We are planning our next trip back up to East London and George for their first set of training. Stay tuned for the next, gripping instalment…

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Twenty.

Today we were on holy ground…potholey ground that is. The (very) secondary road from Kimberley to Boshof and on to Hertzogville was so bad Louise had to travel 60 kilometres per hour. Yes, what a time for her to choose to drive! It really slowed us down, but all things work together for good, right? The Archdeacon we had to meet in Welkom had an early and long meeting…we got to his church at the same time.

Albert is a energetic young man with a heart for the Lord and for people. He was so excited about our presentation and immediately began to discuss possible dates. The thing is, we are beginning to get very busy and we often have to ask folks to look further along in the calendar! But that’s a good thing…

As we left Albert and were travelling along the N-1 we turned on the radio and heard that the very same potholey road was now closed due to demonstrations. Seriously? What were they protesting…the potholes?

Louise wanted to drive straight through to Cape Town today, but I pointed out that we are no longer spring chickens…30 years ago I wouldn’t have thought twice. So we called her sister and asked if she knew of a good place along the road. She suggested a place close to Three Sisters…named after three small mountains…and we called. Praise God for cell phones! We got a room and settled in for the night.

Tomorrow we are homeward bound!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Nineteen.

Today was a bittersweet day. September 11 or 9/11 as many would prefer to call it. I saw post after post, video clip after video clip, prayer after prayer on my Facebook page. Such a terrible, tragic day in the history of humanity…and yet, it reminded me of the need for disciple making. If the church would only mobilize her people to make disciples who would make disciples who would make disciples…we might just do what the Apostles were accused of doing…turn our world upside down…or, in reality, right side up.

Thankfully, we did not have to be anywhere early today. When we did emerge from blissful slumber, we did touristy things. 
We visited the world’s largest open pit mine and walked around one of the historic areas. 

We visited the cathedral and met the Dean and one of the priests there. We also had lunch with John and then rested some more.

We had a group of roughly 30 tonight. So far this has been our most responsive group even though there were no questions. Just about everyone was taking notes and agreeing, laughing, nodding, and looking grieved or concerned at the right places. By the time the presentation was over it was simply a matter of finding a date that suits everyone for training…did I just say “simply”?! But the general consensus seems to be the first weekend in November. Yikes! That’s just around the corner.

We will sleep well tonight. The Lord is on the move that is certain.