Monday, February 19, 2018

No tension here...


Polokwane…the Capital city of the Limpopo Province in north-eastern South Africa. This is a beautiful part of the country with large flat-topped thorn trees, shrubbery, and various types of tall grasses set in a mountainous terrain with crags and cliffs galore. Unfortunately, it is also a troubled part of the country with high crime rates, muggings, random farm attacks and murders.

Attending the local Anglican Church here, however, is a breath of fresh air. All ethnic groups are included in the services and their voices rise together in harmony as they gather together to celebrate their unity in Jesus. There is no tension here…only love and mutual respect. This is surely a witness to the world…this is the way God intended for us to live…this is Christian living at its best…this is walking as Jesus walked.

Our training was done over three days at a tranquil Roman Catholic retreat centre in nestled in the heart of the bushveld. We had 6 trained trainees teach with us, which was wonderful. I had come up to Polokwane alone last year and had trained a few select folks…now they were training other clergy and leaders in the Diocese, and they did such a great job! We are so proud of them! The next step is for those who are newly trained to take the material and teach it to the leaders in their respective churches…once that training has been completed, those leaders can train each parishioner under their care.

Of course, each one is expected to be making their own disciples along the way as well, but judging by what they have already accomplished, this should not be hard…this is a motivated Diocese and their love for God and their follow human beings is evident and obvious.

May the Lord continue to rain down His blessings on Polokwane!


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Help doing the "ask"...

I will never forget one of the first times I spoke at a fund raising gathering. We were still in the US at the time, trying to raise enough funds to be sent out by SAMS to Gambela, Ethiopia. I showed slides to help the folks understand a bit more about what it was were being called to do and where this would take place in the world. We had visited Gambela before and had a few photographs to show the scope of the ministry there.

After what I thought was a fairly good talk, a dear friend and sacrificial supporter, Julie Conlon smiled and said: "Thank you, Johann for all that information, but...how can we help you?"

I not done the "ask", as it is known in some missionary circles and Julie was helping me get over myself and spell out our needs.

I thought I had done a pretty good job with our latest prayer letter and blog post. But Julie is still in the business of helping me and her response to our Facebook post is classic. Clearly, Julie thought I had not done the "ask"...so she wrote:

"I would like to challenge all supporters in a most loving way to pray about increasing your support to Johann and Louise as they pour our their lives in South Africa and surrounding areas. The amount or percentage of the increase is up to you and the Lord. We have seen His faithfulness in the missionary efforts of Johann and Louise and in their individual lives as well. As we stretch ourselves financially for the spread of the kingdom of God, He will show Himself faithful to us as well. Spend time praying and then listening to what God wants you to do. Many blessings to you in the Name of the King of Kings!"

The only thing I could possibly add is simply this: Please, help us find new supporters. Gossip about us and this ministry in the Province of Southern Africa. Trying to get the word out into new circles is nearly impossible from across the ocean. We NEED your help. Please.

Thanks Julie for helping me (once again) to do the "ask"...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Dire Straits

When I was growing up, Dire Straits was a band…not a life condition known to me. My father went to great lengths to provide for our every need and we never knew what it meant to need anything…we always had enough and then some. According to the Scriptures, if our earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will our heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him! He knows our needs even before we ask…

We just received our monthly expense report from SAMS. Our total income for the month of January was $3,252.95…not even enough to cover our base monthly salary. SAMS has worked out that we need $3,802.58 as salaries for both of us, plus $568.50 for Health Insurance, $342.23 and $171.12 for our respective pensions, plus $145.45 for payroll taxes monthly. Our Missionary support balance has also dropped rather dramatically to $14,166.50. SAMS has a policy that when this amount drops to a certain level, the missionaries are recalled.

I think you will agree with us that we have far too much invested in our work with SAMS to be recalled at this point. We have given up so much to do the work of the Kingdom in this part of our Lord’s vineyard. It would be such a tragedy for us and for the Church were we to leave the field because we don’t have adequate funding.

Our grandson, Everett will be baptized Easter Sunday in North Carolina, so we would like to spend our first few days in the US with our children, but we will be available for speaking engagements directly after Easter. We leave to return to Africa on May 2. If you would like us to speak at your church or any other gathering, please let us know so that we can work out a schedule. Try to give us more than one date in April if possible.

We leave for Polokwane tomorrow morning early where we will be training about 40 clergy in how to make disciples. From there we go to Johannesburg where we will be training those who have already done the first module of, what we call, our LEAD Program. This second module covers 6 basic characteristics of a disciple-maker: dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer, obedience to God at all costs, Word centred, always seeking to exalt the Father, and being relational in all aspects of ministry.

Please keep us in your prayers…we need new supporters, so please spread the word about this ministry…we need more prayer as we lead the church in southern Africa through the very gates of hell to plunder the kingdom of the evil one. He has enslaved too many for too long and it is time for the Church to take up the spiritual challenge and to reclaim stolen territory! We know the evil one will seek to put a stop to this ministry. We have already seen so much fruit! Apparently, so has he.

So pray with us. Help us. Without your partnership, we cannot do the work of the ministry.

In His grip
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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Resurrecting Cape Town

A thought occurred to me last night. Jesus waited two days after Mary and Martha had prayed for Him to come and heal their brother, Lazarus. In their eyes, after their brother had died, their “prayers” had failed, but Jesus purposefully remained where He was - He did not answer their cries - because what He wanted to do was bring the maximum glory to the Father. 

The water crisis in the Western Cape is now international news. Some people have wondered why God has not answered their prayers for rain. Could it be that the Lord is waiting to act at a time that will cause the world to know that there is a good God in heaven for Whom nothing is impossible? From now on, I am going to pray that whatever happens, He would receive all the glory and honour due His Name! Pray with me.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Many of you are aware of the water crisis in the Western Cape as the subject has actually made international news headlines in many countries. But for those of us who live in this area, it is not a news item...it is a reality.
May I ask you all to pray to our Sovereign Lord to have mercy on us all and to provide us with sufficient water. Pray for us each and every time you quench your thirst with any form of liquid or take a shower or wash your hands or use water to do many of the things we all too often take for granted.
From the Scriptures we learn that there are many ways He can provide water other than rain (cf 2 Kings 3:16-18a)...He can also miraculously cause the levels to remain constant as He did with the widow's jar of flour and jug of oil in 1 Kings 17:14-16.
Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Four Funerals and a Wedding

“Johann, you cannot plan anything for December or January. Seriously, the country closes down during that period.” Sage advice as this is exactly what happened…even some churches in southern Namibia shut their doors as people flocked to the coast to get away from the heat!

My aunt had died early December…she was the last of that generation…and I was asked to participate in her funeral. It was an interesting funeral as three denominations led the service, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican! A rather petite nun stole the “show” with her rendition of Psalm 23…she was so precious we nearly stole her! There were so many folks present that we have not seen since 1996…some were mere babes in arms back then! So it was a good time to catch up as well…

Then, as many members of my family are not churchgoers per se, it turned out that the ashes of three dear family friends (also related to us by marriage) had not yet been scattered…so we scattered them on the beach in front of their old home using the short Prayer Book service. It was a special and memorable time. So, four funerals…

During this time we heard that my cousin’s daughter is getting married in June…and they asked if I would preside over their wedding service. This is a great honour indeed! It is scheduled to take place at the Kalahari Anib Lodge in Namibia, the first week in June. So, one wedding…

Today we had a meeting to discuss our 2018 schedule…it turns out we are tentatively booked solid until the end of October already! We are trying to space our training sessions a little better than we did in 2017 as we pretty much ran ourselves into the ground by the end of the year. Not good, but this is a HUGE Province and there are still so many areas we have not been able to access yet…like Lesotho, Angola, Namibia, and Northern Mozambique…not to mention St Helena Island!

We are hoping to do some training in Namibia around the same time as the wedding and Northern Mozambique following that. But we really need a reliable and suitable vehicle in order to get there…the roads, especially in Angola and Mozambique, leave much to be desired. Please pray that we will be able to raise the necessary finances for such a vehicle soon! We intend to visit these areas in winter (May, June, July, August here), as the heat is simply too much to handle!

Dear friends from Addis Ababa, The Very Rev Roger and Dr Lynn Kay, will be stopping with us in January. In February we are training in Zululand, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Polokwane, and Johannesburg (we will be teaching Foundations in Johannesburg this time – the second of the four modules – yay!). In March we will be training in the Diocese of Cape Town (Youth) and then later in Klerksdorp. We are then hoping to visit the US in March and April. We haven’t yet met two of our five grandchildren, so we will spend time with them, as well as with many supporters. Heyns and Hanna have planned to have their son baptised while we are there, for which we are grateful. Please pray for speaking opportunities and for new contacts as well. Our support is still not quite up to snuff.

In May, June, and July we plan to be in Namibia and Mozambique. We have made some great contacts in Mozambique and hope to be travelling up with two short termers who know the lay of the land. They will also be our Portuguese sparring partners here…so maybe we will finally learn more than just hello, how are you, thank you, and goodbye! August and September will be spent preparing for the biannual Anglicans Ablaze Conference in October …they are expecting more than 3000 participants this year! We have never done this before, but those who have say it is absolutely exhausting, but totally worth it. We will let y’all know once we are through our first one!

And then it will be November…but we haven’t planned that far yet.

So, it looks like we have our work cut out for us! Thank you for your prayers, your encouragement, and your on-going support. I know I sound like a defective CD (stuck record doesn’t cut it anymore!), but we really can’t do this ministry without you! So, thank you, thank you, thank you…

I hope you are as excited about this year as we are…so many yet to train that will be enabled to train others! Come along with us on this thrilling adventure!

Blessings

Johann and Louise