Thanksgiving may be over, but SAMS Missionaries are still giving thanks for all that has happened this year in the mission field. April Sylvester, serving in Zambia mentoring youth, shares her thanksgiving:
Here are just a few of the reasons I have to be thankful this year…and you are on the top of the list 🙂
1. YOU! My partners: It just blows me away that there are over 60 people that want to a see change in the world so much that they are willing to sacrifice by financially and prayerfully partnering with me! 21 US states and 6 countries are all coming together to bring up strong youth in Zambia! (Just look at that map!) Meeting with all of you has been beyond an honor.
2. My students: Needless to say, they bring me lots of joy and take awesome selfies. I can’t wait for next year.
3. Nanna Lukama, my boss’s wife. Some days are hard as a missionary and on those days I am so thankful I have people like Nanna, who is right next door and always understanding. 4. My family: our skype dates every week are just a hoot. I love laughing with you all.
5. Quiet mornings: Whether in the US or Zambia, I love a slow morning with a nice egg breakfast, a cup of coffee, and a good podcast. 6. Mexican food and taco Tuesdays: Random I know, but I am just so thankful for Mexican food. I don’t get much of it in Zambia so it makes me doubly appreciative while I am back. When I am Zambia, though, I lean on my homemade Taco Tuesdays for my Mexican fix.
April is involved in an outreach ministry to Zambian youth that involves discipleship and mission training. Thank you for your faithful support that allows April to serve others in Zambia. Please visit her SAMS page to prayerfully consider giving!
I am not quite ready to move on from the Thanksgiving holiday yet! There is too much to be thankful for. I am grateful that Denise from SAMS made her way to Jakarta last month to visit our family. Living half way around the world from “home”, a familiar face and encouraging words are very precious indeed. I was happy to introduce her to Hope Special Needs School, an institution very near and dear to my heart. Ibu Lingkan, the school’s founder, asks, “Who will tell them God loves them, if we don’t do it?” I am so thankful for her servant’s heart. Please watch this short clip of the children singing at their Thanksgiving Service and be inspired to carry on this holiday season with an attitude of gratitude!
Ron and Valdomiro during their weekly Discipleship meeting.
Making Disciples who Make Disciples:
This is the theme in the book by Francis Chan “Multiply” published by David C. Cook. In Brazil we use the version published by Editora Mundo Cristao and translated into Portuguese by Daniel Faria. I have been meeting with Valdomiro on a weekly basis for one hour for most of the past year. This relationship is directly inspired by Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV), “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We recently finished reading together in Portuguese the book Multiply; Valdomiro does not speak English, and then we began reading Alister McGrath’s Mere Apologetics. In Portuguese the title is Apologetica pura & simples. Simply put by McGrath, “Apologetics is about persuading people there is a door to another world – a door that perhaps they never realized existed. Evangelism is about helping people to open that door and enter into the world that lies beyond.”
When Valdomiro and I meet for discipleship we spend time discussing the implications of what we are reading for God’s purpose for our lives through the lens of Scripture. We also spend time discussing how our week is going and the thanksgivings, challenges, and opportunities for growth into the likeness of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior, and Friend. We also catch up on the thanksgivings, challenges, and opportunities Valdomiro is experiencing in his discipleship of other men in our parish.
This is my thanksgiving for discipleship in Brazil; I consider myself to be a novice with the Portuguese language and Valdomiro does not speak English. Our conversation in Portuguese at times can be both intense and full of emotion, and sometimes Valdomiro needs to restate his thought for me using simpler words. Valdomiro also is patient with me and calmly corrects my numerous grammatical and pronunciation errors especially if I rush my delivery and, for example, I’m talking in the future tense when I should be talking in the past.
Last week Valdomiro asked me if we could increase our discipleship time from one hour per week to two hours per week due to the intensity of the content of Alister McGrath’s book so we do not miss out on the other aspects of our time together. Of course, I said yes, and praising the Lord, almost fell off my chair! I took this as a testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of two people who not too long ago could not understand a word the other was saying. Now we are both Making Disciples Who Make Disciplesonly for the Glory of God’s purposes for His Creation.
Ron and Debby Mckeon serve in the Anglican Diocese of Recife in Brazil. They are dedicated to helping the Anglican churches in Joao Pessoa grow spiritually, numerically and missionally. Please prayerfully consider giving to support their mission here.
Louise and I did another introductory presentation for the Disciple-Making program last night, this time in a suburb called Gugulethu.
The name is a contraction of igugu lethu, which is Xhosa for our pride. (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gugulethu) It was established in the 1960’s to deal with overcrowding in Langa, the only other area black people were allowed to live at the time.
Today, Gugulethu and the surrounding area is ruled by local gangs and crime is rampant. (See: https://www.crimestatssa.com/precinct.php?id=1067) Murder, rape, beatings, theft, even cannibalism in one case. People live in fear. I can’t remember when last I was in an area where fear was almost tangible…palpable. You could see it, smell it, feel it…
One of our priests who serves in the neighbouring suburb of Mannenberg told us that he was returning home two weeks earlier with a few colleagues in his car when he saw a group of young men in the road ahead. He decided to turn left to avoid them and as he did, one young man pulled out a gun and started firing…only nothing happened. Either the gun was not loaded, or the shots were fired over the vehicle – either way, they managed to get away without being shot. Nevertheless, they are all struggling to overcome the traumatic experience.
Sirens were blaring during the presentation…apparently, this is normal. When we left, a young man went out with us and made sure we got away safely. Driving past the local police station, we saw crowds of people standing outside waiting to get in. What kind of life is this?
Please join us in praying for the gang members in particular. Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their wickedness and turn them to Jesus. Pray that our Lord will raise up new leaders…new authority figures in the lives of the young people there. Pray for our brothers and sisters who seek to reach out to those who promote fear and those paralysed by fear.