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 day…in the darkness, that is. The aluminium foil covered chicken dish, ready to go into the oven…only, it wasn’t my casserole dish…it 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 collectively…so 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!

April Newsletter 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

Love Enough To Tell

Love Enough To Tell

What is the limit of love? Indeed, does love have a limit?

For many of us, it does…love does have a limit. We love as long as it is convenient for us to do so…so long as our personal safety and interests are not jeopardised…so long as it is not hazardous to our lifestyle or our comfort…so long as it doesn’t cost us too much.

But our Lord’s love goes way beyond all limits to the point of giving up His life and dying for those He loved. Jesus’ love – and the love He wants us to manifest in our lives – is a selfless love that always considers others before considering oneself.

John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…and this becomes the standard…the benchmark, if you will, for Christian living. Jesus thought it was so important that He repeated it five times prior to the Ascension…once in each Gospel and once in the Book of Acts.

Love enough to tell. Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Be my witnesses even to the ends of the earth. Love enough to tell…even if it means giving up that which is most precious to you…even if it means giving up your life. Love enough to tell.

That is what Jesus did – He gave His life a ransom for many – He died so that you and I may have life and free access to God the Father. The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament make it clear that there’s an expectation that those who claim to follow Him ought to love in the same manner…that we, like our Lord, would give up our lives for the lives of others, indeed for the life of the world.

The disciples of Jesus and their disciples understood that. In the book of Acts we see Peter and the other Apostles boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus to the very same crowds and council that called for His death on the cross just a few weeks earlier. We see Stephen confronting a hostile group and paying for it with his life. We see members of the Early Church witnessing to Jesus in spite of severe persecution. They loved enough to tell.

If you love Me, Jesus said, you will obey My commandments. Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. All who love Me will do what I say. This was Jesus message to His disciples – and to us – in our Gospel lesson for today. Show your love for Me through your obedience to My commands.

Go and make disciples, Jesus said. Wherever you go – in your own backyard, your hometown, your state, your nation, or across borders or oceans – wherever you go be My witnesses, even to the ends of the earth, Jesus said. These words are known as the Great Commission…these words are commands…imperatives…not suggestions…not options…they are commands. All who love Me will do what I say. Wherever you go, make disciples of all nations…

Philip understood this and so he did not hesitate when the angel of the Lord told him to go south down to the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza. He went because he was told to go. He loved the Lord and so he did what was commanded. He went and met with a highly unlikely convert…an Ethiopian Eunuch. Oh yes, this man was wealthy and powerful and thus a very promising prospect for anyone seeking a convert…but he was a Eunuch and according to the Law of Moses, Eunuchs were barred from full conversion to Judaism.

But this didn’t stop Philip. He was told to go and so he went and so he witnessed to this man…and this man accepted Jesus and was baptised into His Name. Philip loved enough to obey…and thus he loved enough to tell…and consequently one of the first Gentile converts to Christianity was an African.

But this should not come as a surprise to us. The Lord clearly states even in the Old Testament that He wills for the nations…those nations other than the Jewish nation…He wills for all the nations of the earth to worship Him. Psalm 66 commands us to tell the world how glorious He is and it petitions God to let the whole world bless Him.

God so loved the world…that He gave His only begotten Son…He loved enough to invade our world, to give up that which was most precious to Him…so that the world might know Him…so that we might be His forever…

You know, people often ask us as missionaries what we miss the most. What they mean is what do we consider the most difficult thing to leave behind as we go to our host country – or in our in own case, host countries. What do we consider to be our most precious sacrifice? Usually they mean food or comfort or a position or a profitable income or something like that. But for us, the most precious sacrifice is plural. Our most precious sacrifices are our sons, daughters-in-law, and our grandchildren. To leave them behind is the most difficult part of obeying our Lord’s call to serve Him in Africa.

But we know that those who claim to follow Him must obey His commandments…we must do what He did…we must love like He loved…we must love the world…we must love enough to tell others about Him so that they might share in the kingdom together with our families. It has been said that missionaries are those that leave their families for a short time so that other families can be together forever…and so we go and so we love and so we tell.

John tells us in his first Epistle that we know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. That’s the biblical definition of love. Love enough to give up our lives for others as He gave up His life for us. But then he warns us not to simply say that we love each other, but rather to show the truth by our actions. Love is not some abstract emotion or thought or idea…no, love is action…love is doing…love can be seen and felt…

And now that we know God’s love we have to ask ourselves – and be willing to answer ourselves honestly – how we then ought to live. Many people claim to love God but disobey His commands. God wants us to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength – in other words with our entire being – everything we are and everything we own – and He wants us to love others as we love ourselves.

So, the glaring question is, do we love God? If we love Him, our lives must demonstrate that fact through our love for others. That’s the message John is trying to convey to his readers. That there are two great loves – love for God and love for our neighbours – and these two great loves cannot be separated. They go together hand in glove. In fact, John will go on to say in the very next chapter that anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Such a person, John says, is a liar for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, who we cannot see?

So, here’s the question again…do you love? Do you love God? Do you love others? Can that love be seen in action…in your behaviour…in your life? Can it be measured in terms of sacrifice? Do you love like Jesus loved? Are you like your Lord?

Some southern African nations have an interesting ritual they perform when they want their new-born to have the same traits as that of a person highly respected in the community. When the infant is ready to start eating, they invite this respected person to their home so that they might be the first to feed the child, usually with their hand…they might even be expected to chew the food first so that the child also ingests their saliva. The parents believe that the good qualities of the respected person will then be passed on to their child.

God is the Father of all believers. God is love. People who accept Jesus as Lord of their lives ought to be like their Heavenly Parent…they ought to possess the character of God…His good qualities…His love…His selflessness…because they feed on His Word. God has given us His Word to be a life-changing agent…and the Holy Spirit is our Guide as He is the one who leads us in all truth. He inspired the authors of the Scriptures to write what they wrote…and now He illuminates the Word so that we might understand and apply what we read. God’s Word is meant to shape us and mould us and make us more like Him so that we might reflect His light in the darkness of this world…that the world might see Him through us and worship Him with us.

But there is perhaps an even greater image of union with God than this…in one of the most controversial passages of Scripture, Jesus says, “Anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in Him.” The precise meaning of this utterance has been debated ever since is was said, but the underlying principle is simply this…feed on Jesus and you will be part of Him…you will remain in Him…and He in you. These are the very words we use in the service of the Holy Eucharist…that we and all the whole Church may be made one body with Him, that He may dwell in us, and we in Him.

Focus on Jesus…intentionally focus on Jesus…study Him…meditate on Him…until you know Him so well that it is almost as if He is in you and you are in Him…

But that is the purpose of this union…it is so that we might be like Him…the Eucharist is a meal of remembrance in which we celebrate His ultimate sacrifice for the life of the world through the giving of His life for ours…the breaking of His Body…the shedding of His Blood. Here we feed on Him by faith. And when we partake of this feast, we proclaim His death until He returns…it is meant to be a witness to us and to all. It is a meal of love…but a love demonstrated primarily by an action of selfless sacrifice for other…for us…for the world…

Do you love like Jesus loves?

As you come to partake of this tangible symbol of love…His broken body, His shed blood…a life given for life…ask Him who was sent to lead us in all truth…ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart to you as He sees it. Does your heart reflect His heart? Do you love as He loves? Or do you measure your love by convenience?

Dearest beloved brethren, do you love enough to tell?

© Johannes W H van der Bijl III 2018

Prayer for Perspective

Prayer for Perspective

Creator and Almighty God
All good gifts come from you;
Life and breath and happiness
Each step we take anew.
You guide and you advance our way
As we walk hand in hand
With you throughout each day and night
‘Tis you who make us stand.

Provider of both great and small
Sustaining by your Word
Each aspect of creation,
Each creature and each bird.
Our senses of both sight and touch,
Of taste, of smell, of sound,
All beauty and all loveliness
Alone in you are found.

All comfort and all holiness
All grace and mercy we
Receive each morning from your hand;
Each day with constancy.
Reveal your glory – shine your light –
So we may freely see
Our need of grace – our need of faith –
To serve you willingly.

O Shepherd of the flock of Christ
Tend to your feeble sheep;
Take us to pastures lush and green,
To waters still and deep,
The valley we have entered in
Is dark and reeks of death;
Remove all trace of fear and doubt,
Revive us with your Breath.

O fix our eyes on things above
And not on things below
A beatific vision grant
Us all – and make us know
You as you are as reigning king –
Perspective give us Lord –
So we might know your will alone
Is done here and abroad.

Benevolent you are and good
And wise and merciful
All righteousness, all majesty
Resides within you still.
The tempter comes to steal and kill
And seeds of doubt to sow
But we see Jesus’s victory
O’er enemy and foe.

And so we redirect our gaze
From darkness unto light
And know within our deepest heart
That you have won the fight.
And by your Spirit, Lord, we plead
Gift us a single mind
That in the midst of hell itself
Our peace in you we’ll find.

Johann van der Bijl © 2016-04-25

Posted by Johann Vanderbijl at 6:52 PM

How to fund us

A few folks have said they are unclear on the subject of funding us…so here is my attempt to explain.
Giving online: 
This will take you to our SAMS page which has an explanation of what we do, a link to our blog, and a link to our own secure electronic giving page. 
Hit the button that says “Support Us” and it will take you there.
This is the simplest and best way to partner with us financially. We really do need more regular monthly funding and electronic giving is the easiest way to go.
Alternatively you may send checks made out to SAMS-USA to:
PO Box 399
Ambridge, PA 15003
IMPORTANT:
Checks must be payable to SAMS.
Please write in the memo line “Vanderbijl”
If you need more information call any SAMS staff member at 724-266-0669 or 
contact us at Vanderbijl@gmail.com.
If you would like to send a card or letter or something to us in South Africa, you may send it to us at: 
The Rev Dr Johann and Mrs Louise van der Bijl
6 Van Eeden Crescent
Villiersdorp, 6848
South Africa
If you would like to call us (please note there is a seven hour difference between us and the East Coast) you may call us at 00 27 72 958 584
Some folks have asked about how to give to our vehicle fund. Firstly, allow me to show why we need a 4 X 4 vehicle. The picture below was taken by friends in the northern part of Mozambique, one of the seven southern African countries we work in. No, that is not our vehicle in the picture…we wish. Parts of rural northern Namibia, Angola, and others look the same.
At the end of March we had $1402.00 in our SAMS vehicle fund account…not much, but the Scriptures tell us never to despise the day of small beginnings.
If you wish to contribute to our vehicle fund, simply tell SAMS that this is where you would like your contribution to go…either in the message box on the giving page or by adding “Vanderbijl: Vehicle Fund” to the memo line on your check. This is also tax-deductible.
We need about $30,000.00 right now. This is for a 2nd hand Ford Ranger we have our eye on at present.
Of course, we will need extra funding at a later date for gas and maintenance and insurance, but right now, we are only concerned about getting enough funding to actually purchase the vehicle. When it is purchased, it will belong to SAMS…it will be a ministry vehicle.
And then, finally, we have a ministry project fund as well. This is to help pay for the ministry resources we use when we teach. Many of the folk we train cannot afford to pay for the student handbooks we use even though they only cost about $4 to print. For the first of four modules, Strategy, they need to pay about $13. Not much for us, but quite a bit for them.
Keep in mind that we have trained over 400 people so far…we cannot fund that ourselves…so this is an important project.
Thank you for partnering with us. As I have said before, but it bears repeating, we cannot do this without you by our sides. You are important to us and to all we train to be disciple makers…you are important to the Kingdom and the King!
Many blessings.
Johann and Louise

Why Are You and I Needed in Missions?

A great article from Mission Next: https://missionnext.org/

John Piper famously said, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t” (Let the Nations Be Glad!, 1993). I would hazard that you and I are needed in missions, then, as an outpouring of our own worship. To plant a seed in others, so they begin to worship again. To point to God as the author and perfecter of our faith, the one worthy of worship.
Missions involvement won’t look the same for every person, either. Some are called to the far-flung reaches of the world, while others’ mission field lies across the street. (My knees knock the same way regardless. I’m sorry, God, you want me to talk to who again? Must I?).
Thankfully, though – while the calling is unanimous (oh hi, Great Commission), the execution of it varies. God made each of us and has gifted us with unique attributes that are built to give him glory.
Consider the below as just a couple reasons to get involved in missions.

Get creative

Jesus told his disciples two thousand years ago that the laborers were few, though the harvest was plentiful (Matthew 9:35-38). Two millennia later, the shortage remains.
Consider using an existing skill set or developing new skills to reach the nations for God’s glory. Healthcare workers, community development specialists, pilots, teachers – these are just a few examples of opportunities to channel your God-given abilities (and even your career). Many secular industries’ jobs are just as needed on the mission field!

Not everyone can go on missions – and sometimes, that includes you

Not everyone can go on a trip, let alone make the move to full-time missions. Family needs, current career situation, physical limitations, the season of life you’re in – God can still use you. He calls you to share the gospel wherever you are, whether to an unbelieving family member or to the neighbor across the street who wonders just where you go every Sunday morning.
Further, those who do go need a support team at home. This team may lend financial support, yes, but emotional and spiritual support are just as needed. This is a great way for you to get involved where you are!
See if your church has a missionary-care team you can join. Pray for the groups from your church that are going on short-term trips. Lend financial support as you are able. Attend post-trip events to hear about how the Lord worked in the trip participants as well as those in the field.

What next?

Check out MissionNext, of course! MissionNext connects goers and senders (those who remain at home but can financially and/or spiritually support goers) with missions organizations around the world. You can rest assured you’re connecting with legitimate opportunities to spread the gospel worldwide. Learn more. 

Meagan Davenport

A business analyst and social media manager who loves to travel with the gospel in mind. Find her at meagandavenport.com or on social media @naanandmarzipan.
Meagan Davenport