I was gazing lethargically out at the ocean when my attention became riveted to a young boy and his father. They approached a table nearby, and by the end of their interaction, I was left contemplating my trust, and confidence in my Heavenly Father.
The child pointed excitedly to a tiny, folded object in the bag strewn across the chair, and the father dutifully lifted it out. The boy gleefully clapped his hands, twirled, danced and skipped around in increasingly larger circles. I was fascinated, even though I still had no idea what the “reward” would be. The dad settled into the chair, raised the “reward” to his lips and began blowing with large breaths. Realization dawned …it was an inflatable object! I glanced at the young boy and he was not even looking at the dad – he was still rejoicing in anticipation of his “reward”. Meanwhile, daddy was rapidly heaving, huffing, and puffing without visible results. Many thoughts raced through my mind: He is not taking any recovery breaths; I hope he does not become “lightheaded”; I hope he does not have an underlying respiratory condition; I wonder how large that object will be; this is sure taking quite a while; the boy has no idea how much it costs to manually inflate this; look at the love of this father. All the while, the boy danced on in anticipation, not even glancing at the dad to observe the progress.
Finally, the inflatable object took shape and form. When it was fully inflated, the father interrupted the boy’s dance – he took him by the hand, presented the “reward” and led him to the water’s edge for the grand finale.
I smiled and wondered, really wondered – how many times did I trust my Heavenly Father with this childlike faith? How many times have I laid my request at his feet and danced or rejoiced as I waited for the “reward”? How many times did I fret about the “process / wait” as many doubts clouded my mind?
What I can truly say is this – I would love to have my Heavenly Father interrupt my rejoicing, so that he can lead me by the hand to the grand finale! I’m going to make an effort to gleefully dance like this boy danced…
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 Livingstone
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!
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
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.
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
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.