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A Big Thank You From South Africa

As I have the privilege of going on these little missions, I am fascinated by the impact that a spirit-filled woman of God can make. I almost wonder if we have the greater means, sometimes, in bringing about God's glory here on earth because we so easily slip under the radar and comfort with a sensitivity that many but God know about. But, perhaps that is as it should be, that each portion has a vision for how they can bring about the fullness of God, where every joint supplies.

As previously mentioned, before we arrived, Sophie had been teaching the ladies an Intensified course on having a quiet time. This was modeled after La Tascha's Bible studies over the summer. It was our vision to impart an eternal resource of comfort, strength, and vision to the ladies of South Africa long after our departure and certainly after Buyi's death. The 6 of us arrived in time to teach the last portion of the course and then celebrate with a graduation. P. Jabu was deeply broken by this event, saying that Buyi would have been smiling from ear to ear if she could have been there. He then proceeded to go from table to table to tell us the story of each lady there. Each one, he explained, was an outcast of society. Nobody has cared about them. They are from the slums of the vestiges of apartheid, some of them trapped in very intense situations. But that day, they were to be honored and celebrated. Each woman wearing the very best outfit they could find, coming in nervously, but full of excitement. Never had they been to a dinner like this! God was very present at this celebration, also, I can imagine, grinning from ear to ear to each previous child honored as He intended. By the end, the ladies could not contain themselves and burst out into song and dancing. Thank you God, for letting me be a part. Thank you, for all who donated money to put the function on, and Lifeway, for each one of those journals - I could not have been prouder to bless them with the gifts that we did. It really meant so much.

After the conference was over, Nyasha and some of the other ladies spent some days with the teenage girls of the particular township (slum) of Nelmapius. Sessions were held on purity, and the value of their life. The teens were greatly ministered to. This message is so vital with teenage pregnancy running rampant and promises of "love", "value" and a "better future" through wrong relationships. We have a small moment to speak and to warn before a young lady's life can change permanently. P Jabu was burdened knowing he could only say so much before it really required a woman to go in deep and speak to the heart.

Meanwhile, God had other plans in ministering to P Jabu after the death of his wife. As we were picking up the kids one day for school, La Tascha saw a sign for Megapaints and decided to turn in. P Jabu was in disbelief but in my heart I was rejoicing. This is exactly what I had envisioned as well. We had just spent the last couple of days cleaning out his bedroom. The memory of Buyi's death was too much to bear and was causing sleepless nights and deep sadness. He had no capacity to go through her things and was very grateful to have us take over. Soon, the project began to take a life of its own as we began making repairs to long overdo problems in the house, and refurbishing the room. All I kept thinking was how much it was God's heart to give new beginnings. Not to strip P Jabu of the life that he had with his dearly beloved wife, but to be able to treasure the memory of her life, rather than be oppressed by the sharp reality of her death.

As the renovations were under way, the kids became so excited. The youngest one rushed in one day and gave me a hug and said, "thank you so much!" He proceeded to then ask me about when we were going to renovate every other room in the house. The oldest, too, came alive and began working alongside me cleaning and helping with the work. Soon, the waves were made through the whole church. Never had they seen love be so practical and so sacrificial. Yes, by faith, we were doing this on our own dime with the inevitable sleepless nights and plain old hard work. But, the results were more than could be desired. The South African churches came alive, the York church was deeply blessed by getting behind the work and covering the majority of the renovation costs! The house maid was transformed by her witness of the love of God, the children were restored, and yes, P. Jabu was deeply ministered to. He kept saying only heaven will reveal what we had done.

What a trip, from the ladies of the Intensified course, to the teens of Nelmapius, to the family of P Jabu and the South African churches, all the way back to our church in York, thank you God for allowing us to be broken vessels available for your use. We have been deeply edified. Thank you all who have stood behind us. Your reward is great.

 
A Quiet Time Series In Honor of Buyi

When La Tascha and I arrived in South Africa on the 14th of December, due to the death of Pastor Jabu’s wife, Buyi, we purposed to be a support and a blessing to Pastor Jabu, his family and also both churches in Nelmapius and Arcadia and to help wherever we could help. Buyi was very instrumental in the lives of all these ladies and had a great ministry to them and so, her loss was a shock to many people and the ladies of both churches were definitely feeling her absence. We wanted to leave the ladies with something eternal and personal. So, we had discussions with Pastor Jabu and decided to teach a six week intensified course on Quiet Time (a series, Latascha has done in Uganda, France and the USA), where we would conclude the course with a certificate, a devotional and a devotional Bible. We believed by faith, this would be the perfect timing for this, as something like this, has never been done been done before in South Africa. We knew God would be glorified and deep, sorrowing hearts would be met in a personal way.

So, we began the course on the 20th of January. Our meeting place was at the church in Nelmapius Township, where we would meet in one of the church containers from 6pm-8pm. From the first night, I was shocked by the attendance. We were pretty much a packed container of women, from all ages, young and old, meeting for the first time and allowing God to teach us, how we can take all our needs and cares to Him. The following week, we also were packed and this continued for the entire duration of the course. There was such an expectation and such desperation, that the women kept coming. Questions were being asked week after week by mother’s, teenagers, single women and young single mom’s on the possibilities that God would actually delight to meet with them, personally, every day and that He not only delights but longs for such an encounter. We saw God move and to give you a small taste of the type of lives that were there, there was a lady called Eunice, who has been in a mental institution from 1989-2017 (she was discharged 2 weeks before the course began), who wrote: “These 6 weeks have taught me to spend precious time with God. It has taught me how to survive 28 years of Weskoppies Mental Institution and to be quiet, like Jesus, who stood before Pontius Pilate. Now I know I can talk to Him.”

We also, received one of our dear teachers, mothers and head Pastor’s wife from Uganda, Millie Muhima, who survived cancer and has been teaching many of the ladies in Uganda, to teach our last session on the 24th of February. The ladies were so blessed that she would come from so far and minister to them and hear and see what a life with God can do and what a ministry one can have who has a personal and deep walk with God. Now, we are anticipating, La Tascha, who taught these classes and who gave us her material to re-teach, who is coming with five other ladies, as a culmination of the end of the course. It will include 3 days of intensified training along with a ceremony of certificates and gifts of devotionals and journals and a dinner celebration for all the ladies. Our intention with the parting gifts are to give these ladies tools to continue to have a Quiet Time long after we depart. We have 40 women total and have calculated that it will cost about $5000 to hold the celebratory dinner and to equip them with the set of devotionals and journals. Please partner with us in giving towards this endeavor by donating on our site and putting “South Africa” in the memo line. We also covet your prayers. We believe this will be the beginning of a deep movement amongst the ladies in a quiet, but powerful way.

Update and praise report: We were able to find a cheaper venue for the dinner, Lifeway Christian Bookstores donated all of the devotional journals, and money came in from Cyprus, and so praise God, we are covered!

 
Looking Ahead

Because Christmas Cookie outreach was a such a success, we have a lot of seed that was sown that now needs to be cultivated. Locally, as we look ahead to the upcoming months, we have Bible Club in full swing in one of the worst areas in York. We are starting to get to know the families of these children and make a difference, not just in one life, but in the whole family. We are offering free weekly tutoring, we run a weekly local elementary school program where we are allowed to take kids out of school and teach them the Bible for an hour, and we are starting up a program from teen girls in partnership with Teen Haven.

As for special events, we have our Valentine's Day cookie outreach coming up. We are excited that Valentine's Day is celebrated on a Tuesday this year because that means that instead of just one day, for all of Friday through Tuesday, we will be able to give out beautifully decorated cookies that say, "Nobody loves you like God loves you". What a message! Like we did with our Christmas cookies, we will be hitting York and all of the surrounding cities with this much needed message.

In March, we will also be taking a trip to South Africa to visit Pastor Jabu and the ladies' ministry there. Sophie is currently still in South Africa assisting Pastor Jabu and the church, and is teaching the ladies a series of classes on having a quiet time/devotional life. This class will culminate with La Tascha and a few of the other ladies arriving to teach the final classes, and awarding the ladies with certificates and sets of devotionals. Oh, the power God can have in a life that walks with Him! How available He makes himself to us!

As a side note, and we don't mention this often, if ever, but we are beginning to grow beyond our means. The needs are so great, and so diverse, and yet God has seemed to put us in the thick of all of it, and we are a steward of what we have been let into. However, we are really beginning to see the need for a regular support base. Thus far, we have not lacked, and really have run fully off of volunteer help and a very small support base. But, should God prick your heart to want to help support us on a regular basis, we would greatly appreciate it. I know that the lives that we touch on a daily basis will be deeply grateful. Thank you and God bless you.

 
Thank You For All Your Help!

We had a record breaking year for our Christmas Cookie outreach, and we wanted to extend the warmest thanks for how you played a part! Just to fill you in, we baked 21,134 Christmas cookies this year (our sixth year) and reached all over the world, including: Silver Spring, MD, Baltimore, MD, Gettysburg, PA, Harrisburg, PA, York, Pa and Pretoria, South Africa (midway through our cookie baking this year, precious team members had to take an emergency flight to South Africa to be with Pastor Jabu and his three young children because of his wife’s sudden passing. The cookies were a great diversion and brought moments of Christmas cheer during a very difficult time).

The emphasis was slightly different this year. About 10,000 of the cookies went to areas of Baltimore and beyond as they have done in previous years and we received amazing testimonies from that. However, this year, about 10,000 cookies also reached the people of York, PA and the surrounding cities of Harrisburg and Gettysburg. We have been church planting in York for the past 10 months or so and the cookies were a tremendous opportunity to get to know the people of Pennsylvania.

We visited four nursing homes and witnessed these elderly people learning how to receive eternal salvation (because of the cookie tags) for the first time in their life! Imagine passing into eternity never knowing the free gift of God’s love! We hit one neighborhood around our Bible College for three days straight, door to door. We had the emphasis of signing kids up for a Bible Club and had over 40 sign ups as a result, but we also had the amazing opportunity of ministering to people on the streets in the middle of some very intense situations. One man was sitting in his wheel chair in front of the train tracks weeping as if he was going to commit suicide when we stopped him and just let him know that God cares.

The stories are endless of people at the end of themselves from being overwhelmed with Christmas responsibilities, loneliness, or sorrow from loved ones passing, but we are confident, that we placed these cookies in the right hands at the right time to let people know that they were loved and not forgotten. What can a cookie do? We will not know the full impact of each one of these handmade cookies, we do know that our Bible Club program continues today, their families are being impacted, the destiny of the elderly in the nursing home has forever changed, and thousands of people received hope for the future. We also know that we gave it everything we had, with no regrets, and we couldn’t have done it without your help. So with our deepest sincerity, thank you. May you have an amazing 2017.

 
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