From a distance I saw them. Two young
women…hardly women…girls, more like it…walking down the street, the one wrapped
in a cheap, dirty blanket, the other scarcely covered, her bare legs bruised
and scarred with cigarette burn marks. Who are these girls? Where do they come
from? They are just two of many who stand at street corners day and night in
the area where we live. What made them turn to a life of prostitution, subjecting
themselves to being violated night after night by vile men who live duplicitous
lives? Is there a parent watching through a window, waiting for the return of
the prodigal…or is the parent already overburdened with life, trying to
maintain a house filled with too many mouths to feed with little or no income…or
is there no parent at all? My heart bled…
There are way too many homeless people all
around us. Beggars fight each other at traffic lights as they defend their
territory. Men, women, and children unashamedly scratch around in trash bins
looking for something to stave off the hunger pains. Many sleep among the
graves in the graveyards…some on the sidewalks…others under bridges or bushes. Those
who are fortunate enough to find a small job here or there, live in shacks made
out of iron and plastic sheeting…shacks that leak when it rains or are
flattened when the wind blows. And this, twenty years after apartheid was
dismantled! It is not as if there is no money…it is not uncommon to see the
latest models of expensive motor vehicles whizzing by. Pricey restaurants are
filled to capacity every night. The malls are filled with shoppers…there is
And it is not that there is no Christian
presence here either…many churches are involved in some or other philanthropic
endeavour. But usually that is a side line item in the otherwise attraction
centred model of church growth. Dirty, unwashed, and unkempt souls are not
generally the kind of people the more fortunate enjoy hanging out with. But
wait…this sounds all too familiar…just read the four Gospels.
In his book, The Christ of the Indian Road,
Stanley Jones relates how he once asked Mahatma Gandhi how to naturalize
Christianity into India. Gandhi apparently replied in part: “I would suggest first of all that all of you
Christians, missionaries and all begin to live more like Jesus Christ.” Which
makes me wonder what he would have said about the Church of Jesus Christ in
southern Africa…or, more pointedly, what Jesus might have said were He to
address us today. In our behaviour, do we mirror the ecclesiastical elite of 1st
Century Palestine…or do we mirror the one who came to serve, not to be
served…the one who came to give His life a ransom for many…the one who was
accused of being a friend of tax-collectors and sinners? Do I even need to
answer that question?
It is true that we simply cannot help
everyone…but everyone can help someone. If every person attending a church
could be trained to take just one person under their wing…just one…surely we
could make quite a dent in the problems we encounter in this society. General
Jan Smuts, one time leader of South Africa and friend of Winston Churchill,
apparently used to say that if a problem is solvable, it is no longer a
problem. The problem of vagrancy, prostitution, and poverty is solvable…if only
all our parishioners were trained to make disciples like Jesus made disciples…if
only our Christians lived more like Christ.
Growing the Church has a wonderful tool that
is simple and yet life-changing…if only we can get it out there. Some Dioceses (especially
in the Gauteng area where we have done two trainings and will do another at the
end of August – as well as Mpumalanga in September) have responded positively
and we have trained a number of folk there. Some of these trainees have
embraced the material and have used it to teach many more. But there are still
many who have not responded at all. Our introductory trip to the Eastern Cape
has yet to show any fruit…
Please pray with us for the removal of all
obstacles…this disciple-making material can change the spiritual landscape of
southern Africa! I believe that with all my heart…because it is the very same
model Jesus used.
Pray for our three day training in the
Western Cape this weekend and for a possible training in Arniston next weekend!
On a more personal note, please continue to
pray for our support raising efforts. We are still not up to snuff on our SAMS-USA
budget. Please pray with us to the Lord of the Harvest, as this is quite
Please pray for our children and
Hanno and Lauren – Jeremiah (soon to be 6),
Beatrix (2), and Constance (just over one month old). Jeremiah has
broad-spectrum autism, but is doing well, even at school. Beatrix and Constance
were born with a genetic disorder that causes severe hearing impairment.
Beatrix has cochlear implants now and seems to be doing very well. Constance
must still jump through all the medical hoops to get hers. Please pray for them
as a family as they deal with these challenges. But, from what we can see, they
are a happy family with ready smiles.
Heyns and Hanna – Amelia (18 months) is the
sunshine of their lives and is quite a character, and Baby E (yes!). They will
be flying over to visit us mid-August. Pray for a wonderful time of love and
fellowship and bonding. We do miss them all so!
Please pray for the ministry of Growing the
Church. Our budget was cut in half this year…there is still so much work to be
done out there!
Please pray for Louise’s 92-year-old mum…affectionately
known as the Queen. She is still struggling with wounds on her shins. We are
able to pop over the mountain every now and again to see her for which we are
And lastly, please pray for rain. While we
are thankful for the rain and snow we have had, we are all too aware of the alarmingly
low water levels in the major dams. We need much more rain and a lot more snow
in the catchment areas especially.
Thank you for being there for us…you are all
appreciated. May the Lord bless you way beyond your wildest thoughts.
Mission: Empower the next generation through mentorship, discipleship, and education, to reach their maximum potential and lift themselves out of poverty.
Solution: 1. Encourage Spiritual growth by instilling Christian values and morals through spiritual retreats and outreach activities within the community. 2. Impart life skills and multicultural sensitivity, through bilingual education.
Next steps: 1. Build a team of prayer and financial partners 2. Return to the Honduran team for 2017-2018 year.
I was thinking about the hoohah in the church of late and the way in which both sides fling dung one at the other…and the song of Balthazar came to mind…set in a play of intrigue and plotting and fickleness and naiveté. Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny. Sing no more ditties, sing no more
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so,
But let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says over and over, “the kingdom of heaven is like…” Do you ever wonder what the kingdom of heaven is like in our world today?
Last week the kingdom of heaven was like the annual Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church (MPPC) employee luncheon held to celebrate the hard working staff at our Children’s Home. It is always lovely, something the staff looks forward to.
This year, however, was different. The morning started with a disaster as I learned that there had been a misunderstanding about the date and almost none of the staff was there. I was in a panic, wondering how I would tell the team. In a moment of lucidity, I prayed, “Lord, please redeem this day.” Staff members, Samuel and Oneyda, got on the phone to call the local staff members to return for lunch. I found Mengui and asked him to go with me to invite our neighbors to join us. We went door to door up the dirt road next to our property inviting them (at the last minute) to lunch. We had no idea if they would come or how many people would attend the lunch. Shelley, the team leader, was so gracious when I finally confessed the mix-up. “The right number of people will be here.”
At noon, the church porch was set up and we waited. The on-duty staff appeared. One by one the local staff returned. Just as I was about to give up on the neighbors I looked out and saw the family who live by the gate approaching, all dressed up! Pretty soon, all the neighbors were there and we had to get an extra table! (Thanks Debbie and Steve!) As always, it was a great event with good food (thanks, Judith!,) good service (thanks MPPC servers!,) lots of fun (thanks Mengui, Georgia, and Dawn for dancing!,) fellowship (thanks Solo Por Hoy band!,) and,worship (thanks, Holy Spirit!) My prayer for redemption had been answered!
The right number of people were there!
What made this year special was the inclusion of our neighbors. What started out as a last minute effort to fill the tables has become the beginning of a new tradition. My favorite part of the lunch was seeing how happy the neighbors were to be included in the LAMB family and how happy everyone was to be together:
When you get a group of Hondurans together, for what ever purpose, inevitably, worship breaks out. Mengui and Angel took charge and led the impromptu but beautiful worship.
Mengui invited people to come up and receive prayer. Bienvenido‘s (who died about a month ago) mother came up along with “Abuelita,” the grandmother who lives next to our gate. Abuelita got down on her knees to receive our laying on of hands and prayer.
This luncheon is what the kingdom of God looks like.
And it sounds like this as American voices from Holy Spirit, two weeks ago, mingled with Honduran voices:
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdomof heaven has come near.’
In a recent conversation with Denise Cox, Associate Director of SAMS-USA, our sending agency, we were told that we are still running between $1,000 and $1,500 short of our monthly budgeted amount. That means SAMS is dipping into our reserves to pay our monthly stipends. If this reserve drops below a certain level, SAMS will have no option other than to call us back off the field.
This news comes at a strange time, as we are busier now than we have been in a long time. The disciple-making course, Strategy, is being taught to so many people, clergy and laity alike, young and old alike, with many more trainings scheduled in the months to come. Of course, we are cognisant of the fact that we have an adversary who is never pleased when the kingdom advances, but we are also well aware of the fact that nothing can thwart the will of God…and that our God hearkens to the prayers of His people.
So, we are asking that you join us in praying to the Lord of the Harvest, not only to continue to send out more labourers into the harvest field, but also to raise up supporters for those labourers. If you know of anyone who might be interested in supporting us in our ministry in southern Africa, please pass on our information.
And please…also join us in praying for rain. If we do not get more rain this year, there will be no water for the people, animals, and plant life of the western Cape come summer.
With all our love and God’s richest blessings.
Johann and Louise
A Christianity without a passion to turn the world upside down is not reflective of apostolic Christianity. Carl F. H. Henry