Sunday, May 20, 2018

We are engaged in a great work...

"I am engaged in a great work, so I can't come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?" These words of Nehemiah, addressed to those who were opposing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, have encouraged us more than once in our Kingdom work.

The enemy is so determined to defeat the work of God's people that he will use any tactic possible. He will use people, often even God's own people, to discourage us. He will use situations and stories to incite fear to make us reluctant to go somewhere or to speak to someone or to do something risky and yet important. This should not surprise as, as the enemy used the very same tactics with our Lord Jesus. We are also warned in the Scriptures that we are at war, not with people, but with powers and principalities of darkness in the heavenly places. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking those whom he may devour. So, we are not ignorant of his efforts.

We find our courage and determination to press on by focussing on Jesus who who was made a little lower than the angels, who took on the form of a slave and came in the likeness of humanity, who was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin, who endured shame, humiliation, betrayal, desertion, and crucifixion...all for the joy that was set before Him...the joy of knowing that His labour was not in vain. That through His sacrificial suffering and death, many would be reconciled to God the Father through faith in Him.

This past week, Louise and I trained a number of potential disciple makers in the Diocese of Natal. The first two days was focussed on the first of the four modules in the LEAD Program training, Strategy. The attendees were mostly clergy and lay leaders. We were so encouraged to hear this group say that, while they have heard about discipleship for years and have even attended various courses on the subject, this was the first time they felt we had given them the tool they needed to do the work!

They were so excited about the material that they decided they want to translate it into their own language, Zulu, so that they can teach many more people how to make disciples! We will be sending them the Xhosa and English versions this week so that they can strike while the iron is still hot!

The second group was mostly made up of lay leaders. For this training we teamed up with Trevor and Estelle, our team members from Growing the Church, as it was the first time we would be teaching this material. We had heard quite a bit about Rooted in Jesus and it is used in many African countries, but we have never been trained to teach it. Estelle worked out a three day program and gave us a few sections to teach and to lead. The training is divided up into teaching sessions, workshops, and practical sessions and everyone participates. It was a lot of fun and the group really enjoyed it. At the end, each participant had an opportunity to say how the course had touched them personally and what they were going to do about it! Watch out Natal!

Once again we were reminded that we are engaged in a great work...that in spite of the many distractions, disappointments, and discouragements that the enemy hurls at us ever so often, we must be determined to press on...because we really do live for Christ and for Christ alone. Jesus faced what He faced because of the joy that was set before Him...the joy of knowing that many would come to the Father because of His labour. By His grace and His aid, we can do the same.

We are engaged in a a great work...we cannot come down.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Poking Holes in Heavenly Places

I seem to be waking up quite a bit in the wee hours of the morning lately...and, when I do, I pray. The news here these days is filled with doom and gloom stories...murders, riots, strikes, corruption scandals, and the like...very little positive. One can almost feel the heaviness in the air.

So, quite naturally, when I woke up at 3 AM this morning, I started to pray for South Africa...and as I was praying, I saw in my mind's eye an image of my favourite Julia Child's Tarragon Casserole Chicken. Yes, I did check to see if I really was awake. But there it was, as clear as the darkness, that is. The aluminium foil covered chicken dish, ready to go into the oven...only, it wasn't my casserole was shaped like South Africa and it was covering South Africa. As I continued to pray I saw that each prayer pierced the foil, allowing the light of the Lord to shine through onto the dark country below. Hmm, interesting...

What on earth could this mean?

Then the Lord brought to mind a story from the book of Daniel...the prophet was praying for his people. He had learned from the book of Jeremiah that Jerusalem was to lie desolate for seventy years. Realising that this time period was coming to an end, he began to confess the sins of his people as if they were his own and to ask the Lord for forgiveness. Now, we know that Daniel was a righteous man because we are told as much a few times in the book bearing his name, but he had no problem confessing the sins of the nation I began to do the same.

Daniel's prayers ended with these words: "O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open Your eyes and see our despair. See how Your city - the city that bears Your name - lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of Your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For Your own sake, do not delay, O my God, for Your people and Your city bear Your name."

The interesting thing is, there was a delay...of twenty-one days! Not because God was hard of hearing or indifferent or unwilling or unable, but because the messenger sent to Daniel from God had been delayed by someone - or something - called the "spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia". He was delayed until Michael, the Archangel, came to his rescue.

But that's Old Testament stuff, right? Not so fast...

Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that "...we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." There are unseen forces at work in the heavenly places...and they are working against us. But we are also told in several places that these forces, including their diabolical leader, have been conquered through the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus on the cross and that, if we resist him, he must flee.

So, my prayers shifted, once again, to spiritual warfare. I prayed to the Lord to send thousands of angels to do warfare against these forces of evil hovering over this country...especially the spirit of lawlessness that seems to be running rampant throughout the nation.

I prayed for the purging of wickedness from the face of this land...for the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit...for conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment...for repentance and revival. And, in my own words, I echoed the prayer of righteous Daniel..."We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of Your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act!"

Prayer pokes holes in heavenly places...prayer somehow lets the light of Christ shine through. And so I am happy to be woken up in the wee hours of the morning as I know that I am dependant on the Lord...without Him...without His help...without His Holy Spirit...I am nothing and I can do nothing. I need Him...and so I pray...I plead. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer. Cast out all that is evil...all that is not from You...and bring Your peace to bear upon this country. In the victorious Name of Jesus!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Dark Curses

I woke up just after midnight. When I have nights like this I pray...usually for our children and grandchildren, but often also for our ministry and the countries in which we serve.

This morning, the Lord brought to mind something we witnessed about three years ago while visiting Louise's sister. A Sangoma (traditional witchdoctor) dressed in all her diabolical regalia, was walking up and down the streets of Villiersdorp, muttering away to herself. Apparently, she had been doing this throughout the village for some time. But as I never saw her again, I forgot about her...until last night.

The weather app on our phones had predicted much needed rain. But a very strong wind was blowing, threatening to blow away the clouds. I listened to the gusts as I pondered the image the Lord had brought back to my mind...and then I made the connection.

This Sangoma was more than likely cursing the village and the farms in the valley. The drought really started about three years ago, even though the rain had been tapering off for a while prior to that.

I have lived in Africa long enough to take curses very seriously...and so I began to rebuke the curse and prayed for it to be broken in Jesus' Name. I also confessed the sins of our people, regardless of ethnicity, as the prophets used to do in the Older Testament...and I begged the Lord for mercy and for the rain to come. As I prayed, the wind settled down and it began to rain. Softly, at first and then a bit harder. Good, penetrating rain.

It is still raining as I write. Obviously, we need weeks and months of this sort of rain before the dam shows any significant change...but this is a start, right?

I am continuing to pray against this curse...may this be the end of its power.

My reading for this morning was from 2 Chronicles 29-32...the story of Hezekiah's reign. In chapter 32, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded and mocked the Lord God and insulted King Hezekiah. Then Hezekiah and Isaiah cried out in prayer to God in heaven and the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army.

But prior to their prayers, the King encouraged his people by saying, "Be strong and courageous! Don't be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!"

Curses are serious. I will not treat them lightly. But neither will I be afraid of them as I know that He that is in me is far greater than he that is in the world. There is a spirit of lawlessness that has been unleashed upon this land...of that I am certain. But we will continue to pray against it and whatever curses have been spoken out against the Lord and His people in this country.

Pray with and for us!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

April Newsletter 2018

“I would like to contribute to your ministry vehicle fund.” The older gentleman had just handed me a few dollar notes. “I don’t think it’s more than ten dollars,” he added. “It is not much, but I hope it will help.”

I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Perhaps this is how Jesus felt when he watched the widow put her mites in the Temple treasury.

“Seed money,” his friend said. “The Lord will multiply it until it is enough.”

Little did they know that that soon after another man would add an extra US$15,000 to our vehicle fund…and the next day, we would receive news that someone else had donated another US$7,500! And…would you believe it…a few hours later we would receive yet more news of another US$7,500! Seed money indeed! We now have enough to purchase a suitable ministry vehicle.

God is faithful…and this is His kingdom (see Matthew 6:33).

This has been a whirlwind trip. We have travelled many miles and spoken many times in various places in the South Eastern United States. Thankfully, we also got to meet two new grandchildren, one from each family, and we attended the youngest one’s baptism. We visited with many good old friends and made many new ones. It was hard to say goodbye!

But we have been renewed and refreshed in so many ways. We were blessed by amazing sermons and talks, Bible studies, prayers, and spoiled rotten by many. We took long lovely walks along the beach at St Christopher’s Camp and Conference Centre in between meetings, praying about so many things and for so many people and praising God for His greatness and goodness and mercy and love.

It is hard to believe that two months ago, we were in dire straits, not knowing if we would have enough financial support to stay in the mission field. While we have lost a few faithful partners over time, we have gained new ones over the past few weeks. We have also gained more prayer warriors…and we are truly grateful for each and every one! Because of you, we can do what we do…without you…no, I don’t even want to think about that. We are a team…together we are witnesses to Jesus to the ends of the earth!

Louise and I are all anticipation as we return to South Africa this Wednesday! Our layover in London is about 9 hours, and we are planning to meet up with our French “son” and his lovely wife for lunch. Because of this long layover, we will only arrive in Cape Town on Friday morning, and thankfully we will have the whole weekend to recover. When we have received all the funds for the vehicle we will begin looking for something suitable immediately as we have plans to go to Namibia in June.

But first things first…we are scheduled to train in Kwa-Zulu Natal the weekend after next together with the Rev Trevor Pearce, the Growing the Church Director. He will be training us in teaching Rooted in Jesus by letting us train others with him…in service training, so to speak. We will also be training trainers in Strategy.

We are truly grateful for all our partners in ministry. As I said, you are part of a team that works together to build our Lord’s Church. This ministry would not continue without every one playing their part.

Nine dollars does not sound much, but the Lord never looks at the amount…He looks at the heart…and He is still in the multiplying business!

Thank you for your prayers and your support and your love and your encouragement. We give thanks to the Lord for every one and we pray only His very best blessings on each one. He knows your heart and your needs and He loves you with a love that simply cannot be measured or fully comprehended.

I have been meditating on and praying through a prayer of David’s for weeks now and will continue to do so in the future. I encourage each one of you to do the same. 1 Chronicles 29:10-20.

If you would like to write to us in South Africa, here is our new address:

6 Van Eeden Crescent
Villiersdorp, 6848
South Africa

If you would like to call, our cell number will be 00 27 72 958 5845.

Love, hugs, and blessings.
Johann and Louise