Breathing Under Water

A bit of a long quote from Richard Rohr’s “Breathing Under Water”, but worth reading to the end.

“Almost all religion, and all cultures that I know of, have believed in one way or another that sin and evil are to be punished, and retribution is to be demanded of the sinner in this world – and usually the next world too. It is a dualistic system of reward and punishment, good guys and bad guys, and makes perfect sense to the ego. I call it the normal economy of merit or “meritocracy”, and it is the best that prisons, courtrooms, wars, lawyers, and even most of the church, which should know better, can do.

The revelation from the cross and the Twelve Steps, however, believes that sin and failure are, in fact, the setting and opportunity for the transformation and enlightenment of the offender – and then the future will take care of itself. It is a mystery that makes sense to the soul and is entirely an “economy of grace”, which makes sense only to those who have experienced it.”

NEW SAMS-USA WEBSITE!

Hi Everyone!
The SAMS-USA staff are excited to tell you that the new website is up! 
They have encouraged us to explore the new website and to SHARE with our Senders. Right now our old missionary page will redirect people, but eventually that will expire. So here is our new link: http://samsusa.org/johann-and-louise-vanderbijl/
PLEASE NOTE: Our donation link will NOT change. https://secure-q.net/Donations/SAMS/3723 
There are still a few things they are trying to iron out, but we are very pleased with the overall website (which is now mobile friendly!!) and hope you are too.
Here is a link to a blog on the site about the launching that you can explore for yourselves and share with others. http://samsusa.org/2017/02/09/welcome-to-the-new-sams-usa-website-what-to-explore/
PLEASE HELP US GET THE WORD OUT!
Blessings and thanks!
Johann and Louise van der Bijl

Fifteen Pennies…

It is not often that I will repost something written about us, but this letter written by Nita Dempsey of SAMS-USA was so encouraging to us.

“Fifteen Pennies”
We had the privilege of hosting missionaries Johann and Louise Vanderbijl in our office in January.  During their time with us they shared about their call to missionary service.  Johann and Louise served in Gambella, Ethiopia where the climate can reach 140 F. degrees.  Their ministry was church leadership development through a seminary that they helped to start.  Louise was instrumental in organizing the library, cataloguing over 5000 books and Johann was one of the professors and the dean.  Louise, a registered nurse, also assisted SAMS missionary, Dr. Wendy LeMarquand, in a Mother’s Union training initiative. 
As a result of the Mother’s Union training, the 50 infant funerals they had in the prior year went down to zero this last year. The African women learning the prevention techniques taught are taking these lessons into their villages, where they are very well received.  The seminary is teaching and ordaining deacons and priests in the ministry.  Many churches have been planted in the refugee camps. God is powerfully on the move in Gambella.
While they shared about their missionary calling, I was surprised to hear of their struggles with raising missionary support.  This was a hurdle for them beyond the call to strange lands and harsh climates. 
The Vanderbijls’ struggle with raising support impacted me because it was a hurdle that could have stopped them from moving forward in their missionary call to Ethiopia.  As I listened to Johann share how the Lord helped him to trust His leading in asking for support and for prayers, I was aware that all of us have a place where we have to surrender our fears in complete trust of the Lord. That is the crossroads where God meets us. It is a humbling encounter, but that is exactly the posture we need to be in, to allow God’s work in us to happen.  Johann shared how the Lord worked through this humbling experience to glorify Himself as He provided partners for their ministry beyond anything they had hoped for.  The blessing of God’s provision was a foundation stone of faith for their ministry in Ethiopia.  After the Vanderbijl presentation, we were praising God that they were able to do the good work the Lord empowered them to do. 
The Lord continues to use this experience to reveal His love and care.  The Vanderbijls walked two blocks to our office to say goodbye before they left our area. On the way, they picked up 15 pennies they found on the ground. They have been praying for $15,000.00 of additional yearly support that is needed for their new ministry assignment in the Province of Southern Africa.  As Johann shared the irony of finding an exact fraction of what they need, he laughed at the audacity of thinking this could be a sign of the Lord’s future provision.  I think he is right and we rejoice with him in an audacious God!   
Thank you for being a part of the Lord’s provision for SAMS and your missionaries!

Yours in Christ,
Nita Dempsey

No discounts

SALE! Up to 40% storewide. 

That’s what the sign said in the window…but in reality the sale only applied to a few items. Apparently “storewide” means something different to them than it did to us.

But it did get me thinking about how the modern Church often uses misleading slogans to get people inside and how different that is to the way Jesus taught. He never sought to mislead people into thinking they were going to get a discounted ticket to the pie-in-the-sky-when-they-died. His teaching was often filled with stories of suffering and hardship and trials and crosses and dying. These stories were often hard to understand and when the numbers of followers began to fall, He asked those who made up the core if they wanted to leave as well. No deception…no tricks…no manipulation…just the harsh reality of life in a fallen, broken world that wants nothing to do with their Creator.

No discount for Jesus…His aim was to pay the full amount. Did He want a discount? For sure…in the Garden He prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me.” But He added: “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” And He drank that cup to the dregs…100%

Am I committed to His kingdom cause 100%? I know I look for discounts, not just in the clothing department, but in the life department as well. I don’t like to struggle, but, if I am honest, I have learned more about the Lord’s character and His love during times of hardship than during times of ease.

And what is my goal in life anyway? Isn’t it to know Him? Indeed, it is. To quote St Paul: “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

There are no short-cuts to get to that goal and I know that I have not yet obtained all this. But this much I do know: there are no discounts worldwide. And so we press on…

I Am an Immigrant

 

I made it a policy not to talk about politics—South African or American—on this blog, but I cannot keep silent by the recent events in the USA, concerning immigration.

Yesterday in chapel, we had a Thanksgiving Eucharist for the 10th-anniversary of Growing the Church (GtC), the organisation with whom my husband and I serve on the field. In lieu of a homily, staff members shared some of their favourite stories about GtC, especially those that displayed God’s provision. When it was my turn to share, I broke down in tears. I couldn’t believe how emotional I became. I talked about my first encounters with the GtC staff and my earliest days at GtC, about how everyone had welcomed me with opened arms.

You see; I am an immigrant. I know what it feels like to leave one’s beloved family, country, and culture and move half away across the world. I know what it feels like to quit a good job and head into the unknown of financial security. I know what it’s like to completely uproot, to sell one’s possessions and to arrive in a new country, carrying only three suitcases and two carry-on bags.

I am a foreigner. I know what it’s like to learn how to grocery shop again, learning new foods, how to read labels, new terminology, a new system of weight and volume. I know what’s like to learn to drive on the left side of the road and to learn different rules of the road. I know what it’s like to struggle to communicate, to understand people and for them to understand me. I know what it’s like to feel so homesick at times that the feeling feels almost like physical pain.

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Within a month of my arrival in Cape Town, I was in George, helping out with a Rooted in Jesus training. We were in an Afrikaans-speaking community, and all the parishioners, including the ones in this group, welcomed me with opened arms.

I am an immigrant. I know what it feels like to be welcomed with opened arms and with love, for people to be happy that I am here, for people to have me over for dinners and braais and to take me for walks on the beach. I know what it feels like to receive needful help and advise and guidance from opening a bank account, to cooking, to where to get the best bargains for clothes, to which neighbourhoods to be cautious of, to which doctors to go to for medical help. I know what it’s like for people to be patient with me, as I struggle to communicate in their language. I know what it’s like for people to live out Leviticus 19:34a, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself.” This has been my experience in South Africa, and I can never thank my friends, family, colleagues, parish family, and all the countless churches, parishioners, priests, bishops, students and other individuals who have welcomed and loved me as one of their own.

 

Operation World Country Facts: St Helena Island

St Helena

British Overseas Territory of St. Helena

Africa

See Prayer Information

Geography

Area: 412 sq km
St Helena (122 sq km), 2,000 km west of Angola in the south Atlantic. Two dependencies: Ascension Island (90 sq km), 600 km to the northwest, and Tristan da Cunha (100 sq km), 1,200 km to the south. Also several uninhabited islands.
Population: 4,406    Annual Growth: -1.34%
Capital: Jamestown
Urbanites: 39.7%

Peoples

Official language: English    Languages: 1 All languages

Religion

Largest Religion: Christian
Religion                 Pop % Ann Gr
Christians 4,172 94.70 -1.6
Evangelicals 389 8.8 0.5

Challenges for Prayer

The isolation of the islands makes vibrant ministry and church life a huge challenge. Connection to the outside world and to Christian resources is limited. The small and more transient populations of Ascension and Tristan have even less evangelical presence and ministry, if any.
     For an additional Challenge for Prayer see Operation Worldbook, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.

More Information

The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of St Helena.
http://www.operationworld.org/saih