Newsletter: September 2017

Newsletter: September 2017

When Louise and I teach the Disciple Making
(Strategy) Training Module, we always see the lights come on during the lesson
on the timeline of Peter’s growth as a disciple. Perhaps there is a little bit
of Peter in everyone of us and we can identify with his reluctance in the
beginning, his zeal as a young follower of Jesus, his bravado as his
self-confidence grew, his despair as he failed to meet his unrealistic
expectations, his embarrassment and his lack of confidence after his very
public denial, and his final surrender to the Lord…the place where he needed to
be all along…where to be the rock solid leader he was destined to be he had to
be solidly and squarely founded on the Rock of all Ages. Clergy and lay leaders
have a hard life. Expectations all around are unrealistic…and they often try to
meet those expectations in their own strength…and when they fail, people can be
cruel. But not so Jesus…As with Peter He gently leads us back to the task of
feeding the sheep; building us up instead of breaking us down.
Perhaps that’s why everyone gets excited at
this point in the training…when Jesus is making us fishers of people, He wins,
He builds, He equips, and He is with us every step of the way as He multiplies
Himself in and through us.
So Peter offers us hope…
Louise and I have been very busy travelling
around only a small part of this huge Province of Southern Africa. It has been
a good experience as it has given us a glimpse into what is happening in the
Anglican Church here. If we could sum it all up in one word, I think that word
would be “tired”…everyone looks tired…some seem to have even given up. They
need hope…they need the story of Peter.
We realise that without prayer, the Word,
and the Holy Spirit, these dry bones simply cannot rise to be the force that
will turn the world upside down. They certainly have the potential…the rock may
be buried under the trials of so many in the Anglican Communion, but it is
still there. Labour with us in prayer until the church’s one foundation is once
more Jesus Christ, Her Lord.
We have done five full training session so
far, most of which have been in the general Gauteng region…only one has been
outside the borders of the South Africa, namely the one held in Swaziland. Over
100 men and women have been trained in the fundamentals of making disciples who
can make disciples. We have also been busy introducing ourselves and the course
to those who either do not know us or who do not know our training material. So
far we have been pleasantly surprised with the kind manner in which we have
been received. In most cases, dates have been set for training to take place in
the respective Dioceses.
It involves a lot of travelling and it is
costly because we have to make use of either air travel or rental vehicles,
plus we have to pay for board and lodging. Some Dioceses have graciously
offered hospitality for which we are always grateful. Pray that the Lord would
provide a reliable vehicle for Growing the Church use.
Health wise we have been very well. Louise
is struggling with her teeth lately and will need extensive dental work soon.
Please pray for this as well as our medical insurance does not cover dental
work. Our children are all doing well. Heyns, Hanna, and Amelia visited us this
past month and soon after their return to the US they let us know that they are
to have a baby boy some time in December! Hanno, Lauren, Jeremiah, Beatrix, and
Constance are all doing well…Constance now has hearing aids and will have
cochlear implants in the New Year. We do miss them all so much and wish we
could see them more often…part of our cross, I suppose.
We are in Villiersdorp visiting the Queen and
Louise’s family today, but we will be leaving for East London tomorrow. After
training there, we will come back down again to George where we will do two
training sessions back to back. Following that I leave for the Provincial
Standing Committee Meeting in Johannesburg and will stay on that week to do a
Diocesan-wide training session shortly afterwards.
Somewhere in the mix, we have to find space
for Mozambique as well…
Pray that the folks we train will be
energised and mobilized by the hope we find in the story of Peter…pray for a
move of the Holy Spirit second to none throughout southern Africa…pray for rain…
We love and miss you all. We pray for you
and lift you up before the throne of mercy and grace. Thank you for being our
rope holders…bless you, one and all.

Johann and Louise
Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Eighteen.

Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Eighteen.

Shades of Gambela…there was a slaughter
house right outside our gate in Gambela where people would gather after sunset
and catch-up on community time until late every night…loudly. Finally the din
would subside, but by 5 AM the noise of passers-by would pick up again.
Last night, two dogs decided this was their
time for sweet fellowship, all the way until midnight. Then at 3 AM fellow
residents at the Guest House arrived after an obvious long night of looking
rather too deeply into the whiskey bottle. That was the end of our night’s
rest. By 6 we had read the Scriptures and prayed, breakfasted and showered and
were ready for the day…way too early for the church though.
We met Eugene and Ria at St Peter’s earlier
than arranged…but it gave us time to set-up for the

introductory talk in the
church hall before the service started. Ria has several churches under her…this
would be the first of two for today. The service was conducted completely in
Afrikaans…not what one would expect in an Anglican Church in South Africa. This
made me quite nervous as I had never given this particular talk in Afrikaans

The sermon was outstanding…I haven’t heard
such powerful preaching in a long time. Ria drew parallels between the enslavement
of Israel under Egypt and the enslavement of local children who had been
abducted from the area to work as slaves on a farm in the Free State. Someone
had tipped off the authorities and the children had been freed, but there was
much that still needed to be done to help these victims of abuse. Apparently,
sex trafficking is high here. I simply cannot understand how anyone in his or
her right mind would want to harm a child, especially in this manner. To me
this is the worst sin of them all.
After the service, we had about 20 people
show up to hear about the Disciple Making course, LEAD. The interest is high as
many are worried about the dwindling numbers in their respective churches,
especially among the young. There are many “signs and wonder” churches springing
up every day promising quick wealth and health…for a fee, of course. What I
always say is lead people into a real, life changing, liberating relationship
with the one true God and they will not go looking for thrills and fads.
After the talk we went to visit the Moffat
Mission Station…this station was started in 1799 by the London Missionary
Society and is still going strong. Robert and Mary Moffat and David 
are the most famous names connected to this station. The church still has the
original dirt floor and some of the original pews. This is where David
Livingstone recuperated after being attacked and mauled by a lion…nursed by
Mary Moffat Junior with whom he fell in love, proposed under an almond tree,
and subsequently married in the church here.


The graveyard tells many a sad tale of
infants dying of smallpox and other preventable diseases. Life was hard back
then and missionaries made real sacrifices to bring the Gospel to the
indigenous people. Moffat and Livingstone were rejected by those who still
wanted to enslave the local people, but the persevered and won the day.

From there we drove down to
Kimberley…thankfully not a long drive. The Diocese has put us up in an historic
home…hopefully we will get some rest tonight! No dogs or imbibers please!  
Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Seventeen.

Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Seventeen.

Louise woke up at 1 AM…not quite the time
to get ready to leave, so she went and sat in the lounge and completed her 60
Day Chronological Study on the Life of Jesus. I continued sleeping…until about
3 AM when she returned. Louise is not known for stealth and silence. So we
tossed and turned until 5 and then gave up. We had to leave early anyway.
It was sad to say goodbye to Innebos. We
highly recommend it to anyone needing a place to stay close by
Pretoria…actually it is in the Magaliesberg area, but close enough if you have
We chose to drive back roads as the highways
here are usually crowded and full of trucks. Besides, the countryside is always
more pleasant that a dual carriageway. There is also quite a bit of road
construction on the main roads so even though one cannot drive as fast as one
can on the highways, one actually makes better time in the long run. We saw
quite a few wild animals as well as many domesticated ones along the way. There
are many game farms and lodges in this area.
There was a surprise waiting for us in
Klerksdorp, our next stop. 
30 people showed up and they were all rearing to go. Their main question was when could we start the training? People are hungry for something substantial and the LEAD program is exactly what they need. Of course, permission needs to be granted before we can move forward, but we are again tentatively looking at mid November for training.



They provided a wonderful luncheon for us
and we continued chatting with various parishioners and clergy until it was
time to leave again. This time we had over 350 kilometres to drive to Kuruman.
But the countryside is lovely which makes all the difference. But 200 plus 350
is a lot of driving for one day and I am bushed, to say the least.
We have an early morning service to attend
tomorrow, then the introductory talk, then another service, then lunch, and
then on to Kimberley…but their meeting is only on Monday evening, so we have time
to rest.

Ah, rest…
Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Sixteen.

Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Sixteen.

Wherever we go on this trip we plead the
blood of Jesus over the land and its people. So much blood has been shed
through southern Africa over the centuries, not just in battles between ethnic
groups, but in witchcraft and sorcery. Children have been sacrificed and adults
have been slain for certain body parts needed in the traditional medicines. Of
course there are some who are harmless herbalists, but there is much darkness
even today in many places throughout the country. One hears reports of young
girls and boys disappearing and never being found again. The community usually
finds a scapegoat, guilty or not, and punishes him…but the children are gone
We woke up this morning in a small
paradise. Birds were calling to each other and once we opened our outside
doors, a cool breeze wafted in the sweet smells of the bushveld. We read the
Scriptures and prayed together with thankful hearts.
This tranquil picture was somewhat
disturbed by an email from SAMS-USA, our sending society. It painted a bleak
picture of how we actually took in less than we need this past month. We are at
a loss of how to raise awareness with regard to the important work the Lord has
for us to do here in the Province of Southern Africa. The material we use to
train clergy and laity in disciple making is revolutionary and has the
potential to set the whole Province ablaze for Jesus and His Kingdom. So, we continue
to pray to the Lord of the Harvest….the Lord we firmly believe sent us here…to
provide supporters to keep us on the harvest field. Please pray for and with
We drove to Pretoria to meet with Louise’s
aunt from her mother’s side, and her cousins whom we have not seen for 31
years! It was a wonderful reunion and we had quite a lot to talk about…but the
time was all too short as we had a meeting with our GtC coordinator that
Rainard was super positive, but told us
that he will have to clear dates with his Bishop and the Synod which meets next
week. Apparently cost is a huge determining factor, but I told him that if that
is the only hiccup that we would pray and make a plan. This has been a hard
year for the Province…but that is why the disciple making training is so
important. Churches are filled with pew warmers that need to be built up,
equipped, and mobilized. But all in all it was a very positive meeting and we
are tentatively working on dates for November.
We returned to our little paradise in the
bush. The owners had made the braai area ready for us…it was a rather warm day
and the pool was sparkling and inviting. I made a fire to grill the chops and
boerewors we had bought on our way home. While we were sitting there waiting
for the coals to be ready, two bush babies came up close to peek in on us
through the trees. They are so unbelievably cute, but also very shy, so I could
not take any photographs.
After a wonderful meal and a quick swim, we
went to bed…tomorrow will be an early start as we have a long way to drive for
a 10 AM meeting.


Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond. Day Fifteen.

We are surrounded by the sounds of the
African Bushveld…and yet we are only a few miles from some of the largest
cities in Southern Africa! Appropriately named “Innebos” (Dutch for In the
Bush) is our stop for tonight and tomorrow night.
We left Graskop at about 8 AM and drove
north along the same route we drove yesterday…but this time we kept going up to
a town by the name of Tzaneen. As I’ve already said a few times, I was in this
general area 40 years ago, but it was in Tzaneen that I first encountered the
Anglican Church since having become a follower of Jesus myself. I was still a
very young Christian and the liturgy was way above my head. Truth be told, I
was bored stiff. So, to keep myself awake during the service, I started to
harass the young lady in front of me. I tied her shoelaces together…I blew in
her neck or tickled it…and then I attempted to steal her Prayer Book…when she
tried to stop me, her head hit the pew in front of her with a crash! We giggled
all the way through the rest of the service. Outside, one of my fellow
missionaries bluntly stated: “If you do not respect the Anglican Church, at
least respect God!” I’ve never forgotten that scolding. Dear Les died a few
years later…
But there was also a church in an area
still known as Ofcolaco….or, as one of the residents said, the last outpost of
the British Empire. And that’s what this church was…a bunch of rich British
farmers that wanted a piece of England in their African lives. After the Eucharist,
one chap turned to another and said, “Now I’ve been cleansed from sin so I can
sin all over again.” We chuckled thinking he was jesting, but no…they went to
their British Club and got plastered…all of them. While trying to lead one of
the women there to the Lord she looked me squarely in the eye and asked, “What
do I need God for? I have a wonderful husband, we have two beautiful boys, we
have a farm, and all the money we need. Why would I need Him?”
We stopped at Ofcolaco today…not much going
on there now. The church had burned down a few years ago, but a family member
rebuilt it. Most of the old British folks have left and church services are
only once every six or seven weeks or on special occasions. Sad really…did the
Lord remove His candlestick? The young farmer who still works there – three
generations, he told me – was very kind and showed us the new church built very
much along the lines of the old one. I could still see myself standing in line
to shake the hands of the parishioners as they left the building…
From Tzaneen we pressed on down to
Polokwane where Bishop Martin Breytenbach lives…he is the head of Growing the
Church…and we wanted to stop in with him to discuss possible dates for training
in His Diocese. We are looking at March next year. We arrived at lunchtime…the
worst possible time to arrive…but the electricity had gone off in his area and
we were fasting anyway, so no one felt awkward. We prayed together and then
“Fasting?” you may ask. Yes, fasting. The
head of J-Life Africa, has asked all the trainers to fast every Thursday for 13
weeks praying specifically for a paradigm shift in the way church is done here.
Everything is still a holdover from the past and very attraction oriented.
Clergy control just about every thing and parishioners do little more than show
up for ‘church’. So, we are fasting a praying that the Lord will lead us all
back to His biblical model…the model of disciple making…and that church folks
will not view this as just another fad in the long line of other fads that have
come and gone…but something that works and ought to become part of the warp and
the woof of their lives as followers of Jesus. Pray with us, please.
It was a long and rather boring drive to
Pretoria. Besides the Toll Booths there was not much to break up the monotony
of driving on a Highway. But it was far and my rear end began to have a loud
conversation with me…I told him to be quiet and longsuffering. And it paid off
in the end…oops, that’s a pretty good pun, even if I must say myself.

Innebos is a place where a weary soul can
rest and be replenished…and now for bed…goodnight all y’all.

Gauteng, Swaziland, and Beyond! Day Fourteen.

Today was a day of rest. While we could not
exactly avoid driving altogether, we did not have any set agenda or anywhere to
be at any specific time or any people to meet. Just God’s stunning creation and
We started with the B & B manager
telling us off in a rather gruff tone as it appears we left the electric gage
open after we returned from dinner last night. Apparently, the police woke him
up at 3 AM. Oops. The gate does not close by itself after entry, so if you
neglect to press the button again, it stays open. Sigh. We forgot. Everyone
here lives behind high walls, razor wire fencing, and security gates with
alarms and constant police surveillance. This is in stark contrast with
Swaziland where there is no crime or poverty visible…at least to visitors.
As I had said earlier, I was in this area
40 years ago and a lot has changed…some for the better and some…well, let’s
just say there is a lot of neglect. Some roads are well kept while others are
full of potholes.
We did a round trip of the area today…not
much driving, but a fair bit of walking to see various sites. Our first stop
was Pilgrim’s Rest…a beautiful historic town still very much like it was in the
late 1800’s during the gold rush. Sadly, things have gone downhill since I was
here, but it is still worth visiting. The old Royal Hotel is pricey, but
gorgeous inside. Lords and Ladies frequented this place back then, as did
commoners and fortune seekers.
The old graveyard is interesting. One grave
is that of a robber…while all the other graves face East…towards the rising
sun…his faces north. Hmm…no hope for him in the resurrection? 

An unemployed
gentleman washed our car for us while we were out walking through the streets
of yesteryear…we hadn’t asked, but he needs the money for his family. So many
people without jobs here…again, this is in stark contrast with Swaziland.
From there we drove through the most
beautiful scenery imaginable…it is hard to describe the grandeur of the
mountains as one weaves ones way over the pass…The Robber’s Pass…apparently two
stage coaches were robbed here. We hoped this would not be our lot today…or any
other day for that matter!
We saw another marker marking the many
paths Jock of the Bushveld walked with his master Sir Percy Fitzpatrick. (See
There was a herb nursery close by so we stopped in to look…and walked out with
a curry tree. Let’s hope it survives the rest of the trip.
From there we headed north. We drove past
lush farmland…orange trees and sugar cane galore. We saw an interesting Big
Shoe and stopped to take a photograph and buy a cold drink. Interesting folks
in that shop…reminded me of the Stepford Wives or something like that. Then
we turned back East to the Blyde River Canyon…again vistas that take your
breath away. 

Our first stop was the Three Rondawels…mountains shaped like round
huts. Spectacular. Next on the map was Burke’s Luck Potholes…natural and in a
river, not the tarred roads. Stunning. Then we stopped for lunch…in the middle
of nowhere, there is a restaurant called Potluck Bush Kitchen, situated on the
Treur (Dutch for Mourn) River…nowhere in the world is there anything to beat
this ambiance and view. 

We went for a short hike along the river after lunch
just to let it all settle before hitting the road again.
On to Wonderview, God’s Window, and The
Pinnacle…a lot of walking up steep stairs, but the view was well worth the
effort. I’m not sure my knees agree, but we will chat again tomorrow.

This was a good rest and we are ready to
take on the next part of our journey tomorrow. A lot of driving first…