“I thought I would never see you again!” were the words of the girl who came rushing across the parish hall to greet Wayne and me. She asked if we remembered her, and we did. She was one of the students who took our first Alpha course at Heathfield High that we led a couple of years ago. Her name was Kelly.
The three of us were visiting a local church for a youth service, and it was so great to run into Kelly again. Our young friend told us that she switched schools last year and was now attending a school that emphasised sports and athletics. She was a volleyball player. Kelly described to us how the Alpha course had touched her life and how she was inspired to lead a course at her new school. Her news pleased but astounded us. We had no idea.
Sometimes being a missionary is hard. I’m a product of my home culture, and we put a lot of emphasis on measurable outcomes. But in a ministry setting, it is often difficult to see measurable outcomes of one’s work. The bulk of our work in South Africa focuses on teaching and training, especially in the area of discipleship. We work on the provincial level and in local churches; sometimes we work in local schools. Some of the people we serve and train we never see again. How do we know that our work has been “successful,” for a lack of a better word? We don’t and that can be challenging.
So it is very encouraging when we meet a Kelly, who shares with us about how God has been working in her life and how she is now ministering to her peers. We can only pray and hope that there are many more Kelly’s out there that God has given us the privilege to serve who are now leading transformed lives and who are helping others to grow in their faith as well.
Between the years 1869 and 1873, my
great-grandfather, Arthur Lomax, served as a Missionary of the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel, Curate and then Rector of St Mary the Virgin
Anglican Church, as well as Sub-Warden at the College and Industrial School in
Zonnebloem…all in Cape Town.
On Saturday May 20, Louise and I tutored a student
in the very same buildings Arthur must have frequented. In one sense it was
rather surreal, but in another sense we felt like we have come full-circle. In
our work here, we are continuing what was begun more than a century ago. I have
seen the church where he served, but we have not attended any services there
yet…we also intend to trace his footsteps through the Eastern Cape in the
As you have no doubt realised, we hit the
ground running here, but it sometimes feels like we are running through mud.
South Africa, and Cape Town in particular, makes you think you are in a first
world country…and one is pleasantly deceived for a while until you try to get
something done. Then the lack of resources, supplies, and efficient time-management
dispel any doubts that you are no longer living in the instant get what you
want when you want US of A!
Add to that mix the recent wiki-leaks-like
revelation of government corruption, bold-faced lies, the mind-boggling theft
of billions, and the devastating effect of mismanagement on all different
levels…add to that the worst drought in living memory threatening to bring a
city of 3.7 million people to its knees if we do not get any rain soon…add to
that the glaring contrast between the abject poverty of many and the ostentatious
wealth of a few…and you find yourself rudely awoken to the realities that are
We live in a lovely flat in an area known
as Upper Wynberg. In the 1600 and 1700’s this whole area was farmland…many
vineyards, hence the name. It is still a very beautiful and historic area and
we love it. The flat is tiny…you can swing a cat in it…barely…and it is
pricey, but it is a ten to fifteen minute walk from our offices in Kenilworth.
Marianne, Louise and the Queen in our flat.
Mike and Marianne, Louise’s sister and brother-in-law, have been helping us
make it home…hanging curtains and blinds, sharing their furniture with us, and
supplying us with cushions and paint at retail prices from their Décor Centre.
We will post photographs when it is complete.
Johannesburg, Christ the King, Pretoria, and Highveld Diocese
We have been learning a lot…as I said
before in our previous newsletter, a lot has changed in twenty years! And we
have been meeting a lot of people, both here and in Johannesburg where Wayne, one
of my GtC colleagues, and I participated in training men and women in how to do
and teach discipleship, based on the life and ministry of Jesus.
been busy cataloguing our material, creating a Province-wide prayer network, preparing
teas and cooking meals for training events and the gathering of the GtC Board,
as well as caring for an ailing Queen. Louise’s mum injured her leg a while
back and the wound has become infected. It is not a good situation and she was
quite low the other evening. Louise is with her at present, so she has rallied,
but we will see what the future holds. This is the most frail I have ever seen
her. Please pray for her.
We are still trying to find our way around
here. At least we know where a fabulous Indian Restaurant is! We have yet to
find a home church, as we have either been busy over the weekends or away.
Hopefully we will find one soon. Both of us need to find spiritual directors as
well…but it is tough when you don’t know many folk. Pray for the Lord to lead
us to the right people.
Mannenberg Praise Band
Belhar’s Marimba Band
We recently celebrated GtC’s 10th
Anniversary! The event was held at St John’s Church in Wynberg, but many folks
came from all around to give thanks to the Lord with us. An amazing Marimba band
from St Mary Magdalen, Belhar, a praise band from Mannenberg (a place where
gang-warfare is a daily reality which made their joyful praise all the more meaningful),
and a stunning youth choir helped make the day a memorable one indeed! Wish y’all
could have been there!
Amici De Lumina Youth Choir
Louise and I are busy planning a road trip
up the eastern coast in June to introduce ourselves and our work to the Diocese
along the way. Please pray that things will fall into place soon. Louise is
planning a huge breakfast get-together for the Mother’s Union and Anglican
Women’s Fellowship on July 15, so all has to be squared away before that time.
So much of what we are doing right now is
ground work and foundational and is therefore extremely important…but, to be honest,
I can’t wait to start laying the bricks! I love this discipleship material – it
makes so much sense, it is so thoroughly based on the Gospels, and it is so
easy to internalise! I look forward to the day that it is being used in every
Diocese of this Province. Pray with us toward that end.
On a personal note:
We are still trying to get South African Driver’s licenses as our US
ones will expire in July and September. The wheels of the DMV here move slower
than in the US!
I have seen my doctor and she is very satisfied with my health, but
wants me to stay on my current meds for at least another year. Obviously, there
is no change in the thyroid meds and heart meds…sigh…getting old is not for
We still do not have Internet access in our flat and so Face-Time
with our children and grandchildren has to take place in our office. Pray that
this might move forward as well.
We are still in need of a few more generous supporting team members
as far as our support through SAMS-USA is concerned. Ask the Lord of the
Harvest to supply supporters for His labourers in the harvest-field!
Crime is rather high here…theft is rampant, car hijackings are
commonplace in certain areas, together with murder and rape, and open gang
warfare is on our doorstep…pray for our safety.
Pray for open doors with regard to the discipleship training with
more dates than we can handle!
Please do drop us an email or snail-mail
from time to time. We LOVE to hear from you…we do pray for you and it would be
great to know more specific things to pray for!
Please watch and pass on this video…and please pray with us for abundant rain in the catchment areas. As you will see in the video, the situation is dire.
Pray also for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit…southern Africa has been plagued with ethnic division and violence for hundreds of years, and need the blood of Jesus to cover the ancestral blood that cries out for vengeance. These countries have a unique opportunity to show the world what it means to be one in Christ…there are so many ethnic groups here that have all sorts of reasons to hate each other…but the blood of Jesus can heal the wounds of the past and usher in forgiveness and reconciliation. That is what we are praying for…
There is something about Cape Town at this
time of year that fills one with anticipation. It has been a long, dry summer
and the Western Cape water crisis is at its peak. Dam levels are at record
lows…so low that the water literally tastes and smells like pond scum. But
there is the promise of winter rains…good rain has brought an end to the
drought stricken areas in the northern parts of southern Africa. By God’s grace
and mercy, we pray that the rains for this area will be moderate, but sufficient
to stem the tide, as it were.
Politically, the country faces yet another
crossroad. The current situation is being likened to the excesses of the
Apartheid era. Calls for the resignation of the current President are heard
throughout the land from every sector of society, including from within his own
party. People euphemistically speak about this period as a “very interesting
But biblically, drought and political
instability have often served to bring God’s people to their knees and the
situation in southern Africa is no different. This past week, 1.7 million
people gathered on cleared farmland in the Free-State area specifically to pray
for the country. In churches across the land, God’s people are being called to
pray…and God has promised that when His people turn to Him, He will turn to
them, hear their prayers, and heal their land.
So, we are all anticipation on so many
On a personal note, Louise and I are still
trying to sort ourselves out as far as settling in is concerned. We do have our
South African ID booklets and a place of residence, but we are still working on
our driver’s licenses and getting Louise’s mum’s car in her name. Yes, we have
purchased the Queen’s blue chariot. While this is not ideal for long distance
travel, it does get us around the Cape area and will have to suffice until we
can raise more funds.
It seems strange to talk about culture
shock, as South Africa, and Cape Town in particular, is Louise’s home country,
but things change over the course of twenty years and we have found that,
although the country has a 1st world veneer, the reality is a lot
different. In spite of the fact that many modern things are in place, such a
fibre optic cable, it takes a long time for anything to actually work. Life is
also a lot more expensive than we remember and we will really have to budget
carefully as we plot our course forward.
Much to my disappointment, we did not get
to train the team up in Mozambique…yet…the training has been postponed for
various reasons and we are waiting on the Bishop there to give us a new date.
Please pray that this all falls into place sooner rather than later as the
folks on the ground really want to get this discipleship program up and
Louise and I have moved into our new office
as well. The GtC Director, Trevor and our fellow team member, Wayne have worked
tirelessly in making this a beautiful and very functional environment for us.
In many ways they have all spoiled us rotten! They are very gentle in allowing
us to find our place in the team slowly but surely. We also have our official
GtC email addresses thanks to Michael and Rae…and they are:
Note that these are not personal, but
official emails, so please continue to use Vanderbijl@gmail.com
for all other correspondence.
Our new snail mail (for letters and small,
flat articles only) address is:
201 The Chelsea
Cape Town, South Africa
For care packages or any other larger
deliveries, please use:
Braehead House 1 Braehead Road Kenilworth 7708 Cape Town, South Africa
Our South African Telephone number is: +27
Please do let us hear from you soon! We
love you and want to stay connected.
Many of you may be aware of my Facebook post from last Friday in which I asked for prayers for South Africa. The country is going through a crisis, which came to head nearly two weeks ago when the president, Jacob Zuma, fired his finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas. People were up in arms over the now infamous midnight “cabinet reshuffle,” and the Rand dived, ultimately leading South Africa into a “junk status” credit rating with the S&P and Fitch. Last week saw numerous protests and marches around the country; more are slated for today and the rest of the week and next week.
But the crisis is more than a financial one. Zuma (younger people often call him “JZ”) has been the subject of numerous scandals, starting before he even became president. Among his most flagrant scandals are:
Being accused of rape while he served as a party leader of the ANC
Stating that people could be cured of HIV if they took a shower and/or ate beetroot
Spending more than $20 million in state funds on his private compound, Nkandla
Practicing unabashed nepotism and cronyism with his connection to the Gupta family being the most notorious. (This family has been accused of wielding so much power in the presidency that Zuma and their name have been merged into “Zupta.”)
Entering into an infamous nuclear deal with Russia
Firing the two finance ministers
The current crisis is very political and complex, and it may be difficult for those who do not live here to understand. South Africa has a parliamentary government, and the ANC is the party in power. This was the main party of the “Struggle,” the anti-apartheid movement. It was the party of Mandela and most of the freedom fighters, but most South Africans would agree that the ANC no longer reflects the dream and vision of Mandela, that it has become unashamedly corrupt and self-serving. Yet many people still support the ANC and Zuma.
Next Tuesday, 18 April, Parliament will hold a no-confidence debate into the President’s fitness to hold office. With the ANC being in power, it is unlikely that they will vote Zuma as being unfit; but miracles do happen.
Once again, I call for prayers for this country that has so much potential. It is a country of natural wealth and beauty, but its greatest asset is its people, who are warm, loving, innovative, creative and industrious. South Africa can be a global leader of good change. Let’s pray for good governance and justice, for the country’s leaders to have a heart for the people, especially for the poorest of the poor and the marginalised.