Report on Strategy Training in the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, Polokwane: 15, 16,17 February 2018

Louise and I flew up to Johannesburg on
Wednesday, 14 February, to Johannesburg and then rented a car to drive up to
Polokwane. We stayed with folk who have fast become really good friends, Luke
and Jenny Pretorius. We enjoyed their amazing hospitality tremendously and were
refreshed physically, mentally, and spiritually by the time we left.

We had a brief refresher training meeting
with the trainers on Wednesday, and then on Thursday, 15 February, we drove
down to a lovely Roman Catholic Retreat Centre called Mater Dei. After lunch,
we started training more trainers for this Diocese. I had gone up to Polokwane
last year to train a few selected folks in Strategy and they now helped us
train both clergy and and a group of selected lay folk…36 in total. Other than one training in
Johannesburg and one in Swaziland, we have not used local trainers at this
level before…there were six trainers and therefor each one could take a section
each. They were absolutely marvellous! A few of them were quite young and we
had wondered how the elders in the group would react to their training, but
they did so well that no one had any reason to complain!

This was also only the second time we have had a Bishop (and a Ma Bishop!) present during training and only the very first time one has stayed for the entire course! What a blessing!

We also followed a different schedule that turned out to be the best so far. Instead of trying to fit it all in in two days, we started the first day after lunch, had one full day, and another half day ending with Eucharist and then lunch. I love ending the training with the Eucharist…what better place to end than where we offer and present to the Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice to Him!
This is a unique Diocese in so many ways…the
church community is very integrated and it is not strange to have several
languages sung during the course of one service. This made me think of the
vision of St John in the Revelation: “I saw a vast crowd, too great to count,
from every nation, and tribe, and people, and language, standing in front of
the throne and before the Lamb…and they were shouting with a great roar. ‘Salvation
comes from our God Who sits on the throne, and form the Lamb!’”

Surely, a glimpse of heaven on earth…

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!
Help doing the “ask”…

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”…

Visit our page here! 

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


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.