What an incredible week. I don't know that I have felt this "alive" in a long time.
This week we started a church plant by way of giant rented tent-revival and crusade style. Nightly devices in an un-reached community. They are so hungry for the truth of the Gospel.
I was introduced as the "preacher" for the night by my dear friend Pastor Richard(who we are planting the church with) from Mganduzweni. He said "you all know that these kind of people don't come this deep into our community, especially late at night"...let me translate that for you to sink in a bit...whites don't come err because it's not safe.
I thanked him and stepped across the dirt floor. It had been quite warm during the day and we haven't seen rain in months. The dust was hanging in the air from the dancing and worship that took place for the hour and a half prior(oh how we love worship here). I greeted them all in my best Siswati and apologized that I could not preach in their language. They were gracious and accommodating (as we have found this amazing culture to be). I said I was here to share a real life story of struggle and triumph and that I am here protected by Psalm 91(hopefully you are looking that up right now...go ahead, I will wait for you)...I saw them reach for their bibles. There were 4 men, 65 women and nearly 100 children in attendance this 4th night of the crusade.
Only 3 people had bibles, and they were a tattered mess. People hungry for the Word and clinging on to every breath a "Pastor" breathes. No wonder we see such abuse from pulpits in Africa-no one is able to connect to The Lord directly through His word.
I spoke about my testimony of the past year. I spoke from the third person, so no one knew I was speaking about myself...just a guy that loved The Lord and had a horrible experience. I spoke showing how God was there every step of the way and His word says He promises to fight on our behalf, that the Victory is ALWAYS His! That whomever we are and whatever we are facing, He will rescue us and draw us closer to Himself through the struggle or trial.
They seemed to cling to every word of the disastrous story, and all of the scriptures of Hope that went with it. I then felt the Holy Spirit ask me to do something that they would never forget...I identified myself as the very man I was speaking about and that one yea ago I could barely walk. I reminded them of Gods faithfulness and needed them to see. I lifted my shirt and showed them my beautiful scars. I explained that I am fortunate, I have a physical reminder every day and every hour of the Lords faithfulness.
It was so silent, jaws were on the floor as a gasp came over them all. A small whisper began as they pointed and nudged their neighbors(I bet this is what Lazarus experienced). I said "look at this. Let this image burn into your head as a reminder of what He can and will do". I then invited them to come forward for prayer in their life-many people came, not with physical illnesses, but with spiritual sickness. They wanted to leave the old behind and press on to His prize at the winning goal.
Praise God for what He is doing, we are so blessed to be a small part of His well orchestrated, amazing plan. And so blessed to have one more week of "crusade" to assist with.
"Mganduzweni for Jesus"
Side note-we prayed against evil, darkness and witch craft/doctors(called sangoma) and the gathered group responded with applause and celebration. I believe many are on the way to experience freedom and fullness in Christ. Soon, Pastor Gideon will have a church to run under Pastor Richards leadership. So blessed to have partners to advance the kingdom with.
May God continue to bless you on your Journey, and please know that the God of the universe leans down to listen to you and dance and celebrate over you. You are so dear and special to Him. Zeph 3:17
Sunday, September 29
Wednesday, September 25
Can't really explain it any other way. The kids at Mganduzweni were SO shy the past few months. We have had limited hands on interaction with them(just dropping off food and greeting the bomake(women)), and their general experiences with "white" people was quite obvious. They were uncertain and timid.
There is a big gap here of "black and white", and it has not always been about everyone co-existing and loving each other(both ways). We have experienced it to a smaller degree. The people we serve assume we will be like those from their previous experiences, (aren't we all guilty of that from time to time- even with somethings like going to church).
BUT-it all comes down to relationship. We started to get down on our knees, literally and figuratively (praying for and playing with kids) and now.. OH NOW it is so much different. They come running and shout for their friends to come. Wanting to tell us all about life (in siswati) and ready to play. Just to be loved and hugged.
From a high five raised hand that made them flinch(they were used to being beaten) to arms wide open ready to receive them and the courage it took for them to overcome.
Isn't that just like the Lord? No matter what we have done or what we deserve- HE is there to Love us. And He is letting us get a glimpse of what that is like with others.
Thursday, September 19
Tuesday, September 17
Prayer requests: The right workers at the right time, our pastoral partners and their congregations, our kids safety and growth in the Lord, us(we are pretty tired)-Char is recovering swiftly from last week’s surgery(thanks for all the prayers and kind remarks on facebook).
You know, the majority of what we do is government compliance, meetings, and administration(boring.. lol), but here are a few things that YOU equipped to happen this month!:
-Team from USA put in tiered gardens at Mahushu-now able to grow own vegetables to supplement food AND teach the children how to garden.
-Partnership formed with LOCAL South Africans to build the Church building/CarePoint in Mahushu- a $9000 building that (thanks to donations and discounts) cost just $2000 and now seats 150 on sundays!(and up to 200 kids weekdays for bible clubs and meals)
-Water at Mahushu(the city truck kept breaking down resulting in our storage tank running empty and not having water for the gardens or the cooking projects)-YOU gave and brought water to the community.
-Tent Revival(actually more of a church launch) in Mganduzweni. New feeding site north of Mbombela that is now adding on a life giving church in partnership with the USA-thank you to the generous giver of $200 to rent the 80 person tent and chairs!
-Land aquired in Mshadza. The chief allocated land for us to add another site for feeding and a future church plant. 100 meters x 100 meters and close to a primary school. Thank you for the $500 to make it happen. Now hundreds of children will have a safe place to eat, play and hear about Jesus.
-Add on feeding days at Pastor Jele's(Thubalisha), Pastor Mnisi's(Elukwatini) Pastor FIkilie's(Nkomeni), Pastor Maxwell's(Mooiplaas) and Pastor Daniel's(Nhlazatshe) locations- setting them up for the next step- full funding via child sponsorship.
-New partnership in Clau Clau and Phakane(2 new feeding sites feeding twice a week in partnership with local church
-New partnership with Jerusalem, Phelandaba, Mganduzweni1, Chochocho, and Kabokweni. An established ministry was assisting and continues to do so, however by partnering together we are able to extend a deeper spiritual and nutritional benefit to the kids.
-Plans for Pastors Conference the first week of November(our heart-to see pastors equipped to love kids and impact their lives)- we are expecting 100+ pastors at the new church in Mahushu
-New South African Missionary planning on coming- a brilliant young lady from Cape Town is answering Gods call to be a missionary here at home and move to Mbombela to serve with us. She is a children's pastor and will be of GREAT help to teach our facilitators how better to connect with and train up children
-Looking to hire our first employees! Have been interviewing and have leads on some high caliber people to assist with office/admin work, kids clubs, camps, preschool, tutoring, etc.
It's NOT about numbers, but to put a number to all of this- 25 Carepoints feeding from 1-6 days per week and touching 3,168 children by December. PRAISE GOD!
Thanks so much. We love you and miss you!
Mitch n Char