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?

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…

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
Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Eighteen.

Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Eighteen.

Shades of Gambela…there was a slaughter
house right outside our gate in Gambela where people would gather after sunset
and catch-up on community time until late every night…loudly. Finally the din
would subside, but by 5 AM the noise of passers-by would pick up again.
Last night, two dogs decided this was their
time for sweet fellowship, all the way until midnight. Then at 3 AM fellow
residents at the Guest House arrived after an obvious long night of looking
rather too deeply into the whiskey bottle. That was the end of our night’s
rest. By 6 we had read the Scriptures and prayed, breakfasted and showered and
were ready for the day…way too early for the church though.
We met Eugene and Ria at St Peter’s earlier
than arranged…but it gave us time to set-up for the

introductory talk in the
church hall before the service started. Ria has several churches under her…this
would be the first of two for today. The service was conducted completely in
Afrikaans…not what one would expect in an Anglican Church in South Africa. This
made me quite nervous as I had never given this particular talk in Afrikaans
before.

The sermon was outstanding…I haven’t heard
such powerful preaching in a long time. Ria drew parallels between the enslavement
of Israel under Egypt and the enslavement of local children who had been
abducted from the area to work as slaves on a farm in the Free State. Someone
had tipped off the authorities and the children had been freed, but there was
much that still needed to be done to help these victims of abuse. Apparently,
sex trafficking is high here. I simply cannot understand how anyone in his or
her right mind would want to harm a child, especially in this manner. To me
this is the worst sin of them all.
After the service, we had about 20 people
show up to hear about the Disciple Making course, LEAD. The interest is high as
many are worried about the dwindling numbers in their respective churches,
especially among the young. There are many “signs and wonder” churches springing
up every day promising quick wealth and health…for a fee, of course. What I
always say is lead people into a real, life changing, liberating relationship
with the one true God and they will not go looking for thrills and fads.
After the talk we went to visit the Moffat
Mission Station…this station was started in 1799 by the London Missionary
Society and is still going strong. Robert and Mary Moffat and David 
Livingstone
are the most famous names connected to this station. The church still has the
original dirt floor and some of the original pews. This is where David
Livingstone recuperated after being attacked and mauled by a lion…nursed by
Mary Moffat Junior with whom he fell in love, proposed under an almond tree,
and subsequently married in the church here.

 

The graveyard tells many a sad tale of
infants dying of smallpox and other preventable diseases. Life was hard back
then and missionaries made real sacrifices to bring the Gospel to the
indigenous people. Moffat and Livingstone were rejected by those who still
wanted to enslave the local people, but the persevered and won the day.

From there we drove down to
Kimberley…thankfully not a long drive. The Diocese has put us up in an historic
home…hopefully we will get some rest tonight! No dogs or imbibers please!  
Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Seventeen.

Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Seventeen.

Louise woke up at 1 AM…not quite the time
to get ready to leave, so she went and sat in the lounge and completed her 60
Day Chronological Study on the Life of Jesus. I continued sleeping…until about
3 AM when she returned. Louise is not known for stealth and silence. So we
tossed and turned until 5 and then gave up. We had to leave early anyway.
It was sad to say goodbye to Innebos. We
highly recommend it to anyone needing a place to stay close by
Pretoria…actually it is in the Magaliesberg area, but close enough if you have
transport.
We chose to drive back roads as the highways
here are usually crowded and full of trucks. Besides, the countryside is always
more pleasant that a dual carriageway. There is also quite a bit of road
construction on the main roads so even though one cannot drive as fast as one
can on the highways, one actually makes better time in the long run. We saw
quite a few wild animals as well as many domesticated ones along the way. There
are many game farms and lodges in this area.
There was a surprise waiting for us in
Klerksdorp, our next stop. 
30 people showed up and they were all rearing to go. Their main question was when could we start the training? People are hungry for something substantial and the LEAD program is exactly what they need. Of course, permission needs to be granted before we can move forward, but we are again tentatively looking at mid November for training.

 

 

They provided a wonderful luncheon for us
and we continued chatting with various parishioners and clergy until it was
time to leave again. This time we had over 350 kilometres to drive to Kuruman.
But the countryside is lovely which makes all the difference. But 200 plus 350
is a lot of driving for one day and I am bushed, to say the least.
We have an early morning service to attend
tomorrow, then the introductory talk, then another service, then lunch, and
then on to Kimberley…but their meeting is only on Monday evening, so we have time
to rest.

Ah, rest…