Thursday 25th August 2016: Devotions at the cathedral began at 06:00 sharp, so our wake-up call at 04:00 was via the rooster/cock, 04:15 was via the turkeys and 04:30 was via the ducks; so we were definitely awake to fetch our bucket of water so that we could have our early morning splash with cold water. The view of the cathedral with the early morning sunrise was spectacular. It was amazing to see the cathedral already packed with enthusiastic youth when we arrived.
The theme of the conference was Romans 12: 1-2.
“Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God – what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.” Good News Translation (GNT)
During one of our sessions, an altar call was made and an invitation given to everyone there who was prepared to offer him/herself to be a living sacrifice for God. It was wonderful to see all the young people (approximately 170) who either came to faith or who made a rededication to their faith. Glory to God! The sessions were quite an eye-opener, and we were learning a lot just by engaging with the people. The feedback and how well we were received by the youth was amazing; and thanks to God the Almighty, things were looking up.
Our sessions were great, and the Holy Spirit was working with and through us to fulfil our purpose here in Madagascar. We gave thanks for God’s goodness because we had the opportunity to help people implement God’s teachings in their daily lives. We felt led to pray John 14:26 for these young people, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (NIV). We prayed for God to send down the Holy Spirit to take initiative and to assist the young leaders, as they had quite a major challenge concerning the way forward after the conference. We prayed for them to find the courage to take their ministry and teaching to the next level and to develop themselves in every aspect of their lives spiritually, personally, academically, family life, etc.
In the afternoon, I gave a talk on the impact of globalisation and the church. I had various interpreters, and I felt that the young people were not getting the message that I was trying to convey. I started to panic, but then it hit me: Why am I worried? God is in control. I calmed down and prayed a silent prayer, asking God to send someone to assist me with the translation. Then Revd Victor Osoro walked into the room; he was the best translator at the conference, and he immediately stepped in to assist me. I was able to proceed confidently with my talk, focusing on the positive ways that globalisation has affected the church.
Interesting things were happening.
Friday 26th August: We had a successful and blessed games evening with all team members doing different games with different youth and switching in-between with the various groups and games. We ended at 10:54pm, but the youth continued to praise God with songs of praise.
Saturday 27th August: We had a touching and revealing experience today. By praying for the Holy Spirit, we were so spot on because Bishop Todd was speaking about the importance of the Holy Spirit in the morning Bible study, which was wonderful. We all had an experience where we prayed for the youth, laying hands on them. All of us could feel
the presence of the Holy Spirit. Many people were extremely emotional and that was why we continued to pray for the Holy Spirit to come down and fill us, flood us, help us, fill them. Everyone was in a reviving and accepting mode for the Holy Spirit.
There were some soccer matches held later in the day on an open veld, which our South African youth would not even consider to play on. The pitch was uneven ground with holes, and goats would often cross the field. The youth were playing full ball running around barefoot; the match was fantastic. The youth back home would be able to learn a thing or two about what they take for granted at home and how the youth here make do with what they have and with what God has given them.
#Madagascar4Jesus blog series: 3
The flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg went off well; breakfast on the plane wasn’t too bad. The flight from Johannesburg to Antananarivo also went well, although two of the flight attendants were not in the least bit friendly or helpful; so one of our team members, Nkosinathi, did not have a complete meal to eat.
23rd August 2016: We landed safely at Antananarivo airport. Hotel transportation had not yet arrived, so we went looking for assistance regarding transportation. The people around the airport were only too happy to assist us but wanted dollar payment for any assistance given. Neil and I went to the airport police services to ask for assistance in contacting the hotel. The police officer was kind enough to help and was able to contact the hotel. He then escorted us to the taxi rank and spoke to one of the drivers, at which time our transportation from the Auberge Du Cheval Blanc Hotel arrived. The officer then informed us about a monetary thank you that was required for the assistance he had given us. We arrived safely at the hotel, booked in at reception and went to our rooms. Rethabile needed to get a few items from a pharmacy; so after asking the front desk for directions, we went on a walkabout to find a pharmacy and to get to know the town. The 15-min walk turned into a 2km-walk, but this also afforded us the opportunity to experience the city in its raw form. The people travel on the right-hand side of the road, just like the Americans. A stall merchant, which made business selling meat, had his produce in front of his stall, hanging on hooks in all its finery with the flies and other insects flying around. The mincemeat on the counter was in the form of a mountain.
Click to view slideshow.
On 24th August 2016: When we arrived at the Toliara airport, we were welcomed– Salama/Bonjour–by Bishop Todd McGregor, Revd. Victor Osoro, Zafilahy Christian and Haja Randrianavalona and so began our wonderful journey in Madagascar. Everyone on the team was excited, and we received a tour of the compound at which the conference would take place. The people were extremely welcoming and nice. The Diocese of Toliara had young people coming from four deaneries (archdeaconries) on the island. The total number of young people attending was approximately 170; they came from these deaneries: Morondava (23), Fort Dauphin (30), Katedraly (57) and Toliara (60). Sleeping arrangements were divided with the five men in two bunk rooms sharing; Rethabile stayed with the bishop and his wife. For the youth, there was a dorm for the girls and a dorm for the boys. The bathrooms were outside and away from the rooms–but not too far. Quite a few of the young people had travelled as long as four days to attend the youth conference. This spoke volumes to me as we often see back home in South Africa many young people as well as adults not attending church services/youth because of … a little rainy weather, it’s a bit cold and windy outside, we went out to party last night and now are too tired to attend–these are but a few of the many reasons they tell themselves. Here we had solid commitment from young people who traveled for long periods of time over rough terrain just to attend a youth conference. They were more than eager and happy to go through this ordeal to have the privilege of attending the conference. Such enthusiasm was amazing.
#Madagascar4Jesus blog series: 2
Salama, bonjour, good day everyone!
Many people have been asking for more details about my recent mission trip to Madagascar, so I decided to write a blog series about my experiences. I hope you will enjoy these stories over the weeks to come.
Stewart Wicker, President and Mission Director of SAMS – USA, which is our mission agency, contacted Father Trevor Pearce, the Director of Growing the Church (GtC) and our boss in South Africa, about a possible mission trip to Madagascar. Father Trevor then contacted Nicole and me since we were in the USA on furlough. We were fortunate to be able to speak to Bishop Todd (Bishop of Toliara, Madagascar), who had requested the mission, in person at our SAMS Retreat and the New Wineskins Global Missions Conference in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Bishop Todd and his wife Patsy are SAMS missionaries like the two of us. Growing the Church was happy to assist with this mission because mission engagement is one of the main principals of GtC, and special emphasis was placed on people to form teams and to go on mission before our International Anglicans Ablaze Conference, as mission engagement played a focal role in the conference.
When Nicole and I returned to Cape Town, we had less than four months to prepare the mission. But within a matter of weeks, a team of six was being formed. Each team member brought unique skills and gifts, and we were thrilled that our best and brightest were going to serve our sister diocese in this way. Our team consisted of Nkosinathi Landingwe, Rethabile Mabusela, Neil Adams, Ryan Baatjies, Zrano Bam, and me. Bishop Todd wanted us to serve at his diocesan youth conference, and we were invited to assist in the areas of teaching, speaking, preaching, ministry and cultivating community and fellowship through games.
For me to be an instrument and effective missionary, I had to leave my comfort zone, humble myself and enter God’s zone. The only way to do this was to leave South Africa and to venture out. In my case, God led me to the island known as Madagascar. On this mission, I had to learn how to allow God’s spirit to guide, guard and infuse my whole being. This was not an easy task, since I was on a completely unknown island to me, not being able to speak the language or understand the culture. I had to place my trust in God and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me. When I left home, I took along a new pair of training shoes that my wonderful wife had bought me as a gift. I did not want to take them at first; but with a nudge from my wife, I felt the urge to take them along and I did. Little did I know what God had in store for me and the rest of the team. God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. I shall connect the dots a bit later so that you may see the awesome wonder and sense of humour of God.
#Madagascar4Jesus blog series: 1