Gambela and Cairo

We left Cape Town International Airport three hours later than scheduled. Ethiopian Airlines at their best. Consequently, the transfer at Bole International Airport in Addis was rather interesting…we had to apply for a visa, claim our bags, and walk around to the Domestic Airport as there were no transfer vehicles available at that hour…only to be told that we could not proceed to the waiting area by the only security person in the building…and there was no where to sit there other than the floor. After speaking to one of the Ethiopian Airlines check-in people and explaining that we had a connection to make, the security person let us through. But we still had a very long wait for the plane to Gambela and not a coffee bar in sight.
When we finally arrived at Gambela airport, our ride was late. She had lost her spectacles and after she found them, she got stuck in the mud as she tried to leave her compound. Ah, the simple life in Gambela.
We were greeted like long lost family…folks started coming to greet us with gifts of eggs, aubergines, a chicken, cold fizzy drinks, a beaded gourd, and other food items…and our students came to love on us, hugging us, holding us, and calling us their mother and father. Louise wept like a child.

The next morning I preached at St. Baranabas. There was much rejoicing…singing and dancing…oh, how we have missed our Anuak family, but boy were we exhausted after the (long) service!

The following day, we started to train trainers in how to make disciples. All the students, first through third years, were present together with priests and lay leaders who lived close-by.

It was such a blessing to be back in the classroom…to be with the folks we love so dearly…to share with them the wonderful material we have discovered since being absent from them. Ah, the Lord is good.

Then the great event itself! The first graduation of St Frumentius’ Anglican College! Our babies were graduating. What an emotional roller coaster for us all. This was what we gave our lives for…and nearly lost my life for…but ever drop of sweat, every struggle, was well worth it.

The training continued until Friday.
Here we are with most of our students.

I had also blessed a tribal marriage in the meantime…a first for me. The English teacher had also joined us and we spent Saturday getting to know each other. What a wonderful retired missionary still giving her all for our Lord and His kingdom! Sunday, I preached at St Luke’s, a Nuer congregation. Again, many tears and much laughter. We left for Cairo that afternoon.

Our flight to Cairo was late as well…for someone who is a stickler for punctuality, this is a bit of a bother. When we arrived, we could not locate our ride to the Diocesan Guest House. We waited an hour as we did not want anyone to miss us, but finally gave in a took a taxi. Just as well…we found out the next day that the driver had got the days wrong! Driving in Cairo at three AM is interesting. This city really does not sleep!

We met up with our dear friends from South Carolina, now serving with SAMS with us at the Cathedral, Kerry and Cynthia Buttram. We had two full days with them before starting the disciple making training on Wednesday. Bishop Mouneer was present throughout the training…only the second bishop to show such interest and solidarity with his priests! We had a marvellous time and they were so thrilled with the material! Pray for them, as this is a very difficult area in which to live as followers of Jesus!

Cairo airport was quite an adventure, to say the least. Going through security with a pacemaker can be rather interesting when no one understands what you are trying to say. But the most, dare I say, entertaining part was when a fight broke out in the security line as we were about to board the plane. A woman was attempting to knock a man senseless with her shoe. I don’t know what he did to her, but it must have been pretty bad for her to lose it like that. Needless to say, we were delayed once again.
Our stop in Addis was wonderful. We spent time with very dear friends, CMS Missionaries, Roger and Lynn Kay. They went out of their way to spoil us rotten.

Louise with Lynn and Roger at Cape Point earlier this year.

We also got an opportunity to say farewell to Rosemary Burke, also with CMS, as she returns to England to wait on the Lord for her next assignment.
Our plane bound for Cape Town…wait for it…was delayed as well. But adding insult to injury, when we arrived in Cape Town, our bags were not with us on the plane. There were quite a number of very disgruntled fellow passengers, especially those with connecting flights! But, I must say, they did get our bags to us in Villiersdorp the very next day…actually just before midnight. So, alls well that ends well.

We are back home now, trying to catch up with emails and life in general. A dear family friend was killed shortly after we got home in a car accident. We are all still in a state of shock as he was so young and leaves behind his young wife and two beautiful daughters. Please keep them in your prayers as they try to move forward.

Thank you once again for your love, encouragement, and support. Thank you for being our partners in the Gospel!

Hugs, love, and blessings.
Johann and Louise

A powerful reminder

A powerful reminder…especially the last sentence. Taken from Nabeel Qureshi’s book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.
THERE IS A SIMPLE REASON I never listened to street preachers: they didn’t seem to care about me. It wasn’t that they were annoying. I found their passion admirable, and I appreciated people who stood up for what they believed. Rather, it was that they treated me like an object of their agenda. Did they have any idea how their message would impact my life? Did they even care?
Sure, there are street preachers who share their message while still greeting people kindly, getting to know others’ troubles, and praying over personal pains, but I never saw them. What I saw were men who would stand on street corners accosting the public with their beliefs. No doubt they reached a few, but they repelled many more.
Unfortunately, I have found that many Christians think of evangelism the same way, foisting Christian beliefs on strangers in chance encounters. The problem with this approach is that the gospel requires a radical life change, and not many people are about to listen to strangers telling them to change the way they live. What do they know about others’ lives?
On the other hand, if a true friend shares the exact same message with heartfelt sincerity, speaking to specific circumstances and struggles, then the message is heard loud and clear.
Effective evangelism requires relationships. There are very few exceptions.
Namibia Trip Report 2018

Namibia Trip Report 2018

Why did you take you so long to get here?” Fr Lazarus Ngube looked at me enquiringly.

It had taken us longer than usual to get to Windhoek as we had wanted to first visit Fr Martin Kauna in the isolated coastal town of Luderitz…so we had taken a long way round through Sendelingsdrif (Missionary’s Fjord) where we were floated across the Orange (or Gariep) River from South Africa to Namibia. This is a harsh and rugged landscape, but because of the generosity of our partners in the US, we had what we fondly call “The Godmobile” (thanks Jim Bannister for the name!), a Mahindra Scorpio 4 wheel drive SUV…and she was at her best on the most challenging roads, whether rocks and boulders or really thick sand. One of the things I like best about the Godmobile is that she “purrs” when in 4 wheel drive.

So, it had taken us four days to get to Windhoek instead of two…plus I was presiding over a wedding in the stunning Kalahari dunes. My cousin’s daughter had asked if I would consider officiating when we saw them at her grandmother, my aunt’s funeral last December. What an honour! Anib Lodge was the location…very close to where my cousin and I grew up…so while we made new memories we also remembered old ones.

Four days later, we started the training at St Michael’s Anglican Church in Katatura…

But I knew that travel time was not what Fr Lazarus was talking about. He was talking about the disciple-making training we call Strategy. The small group of four, Fr Lazarus, Fr Immanuel, Fr Paulus, and sister Eunice (we also had a pre-med student the first day by the name of Fillemon) all agreed that this material was what they had been waiting for a long time.

Following Bishop Martin Breytenbach’s lead, we took three days to complete the training instead of two. It is such a huge paradigm shift from the maintenance method (or attractional model) to the missional method (or disciple-making model) that one has to allow time for questions, discussions, and reflection. At the end of three wonderful days, we decided we needed to start making plans to return next year, but not only for three days in Windhoek!

Because of the vast distance and the great expense of getting folks together in one place for training, we thought it best if we travelled throughout the length and breadth of the country, training in as many areas as possible. Such a feat would take about three months…but it would be well worth the effort!

We also visited the smallest Anglican Cathedral in the world…St George the Martyr in Windhoek…that also happens to be the church where I was baptised back in 1962! Apparently, the font had been donated to St Michael’s a few years ago…but we didn’t know that until we had gone. Sigh…next time.

We spent two more days with my dear cousin and her husband at their lovely retreat close to Rehoboth. It was a good time for us to rest and for Louise to recover from a very nasty tummy ailment.

We returned to South Africa to find that our Lord was answering our many prayers for rain! The level of one dam went from 4% to 40% overnight! We have yet to see our Theewaterkloof dam, but we have heard that it is significantly fuller than when we last saw it two weeks ago! Praise the Lord with us for His grace and mercy!

God willing, Louise and I will leave for Ethiopia and Egypt this Friday. We will be attending the first graduation of the College we started four years ago where I will deliver the main speech. We will also be training students, local priests, and staff in both Strategy and Foundations while there. And I will also be presiding over the blessing of the marriage of one of our former students! We will then move on to Cairo where we will meet up with so many dear friends, and also train folks in Strategy.

Please keep us in your prayers…we really need our Lord to bless this trip with His amazing life-changing Presence! Then again…we always need Him, don’t we? We really can’t do anything without Him and we really can’t do without you all either! God has given us an amazing body of people with all sorts of different talents and skills – we need each one of you if we are to function in a healthy manner.

Thank you again and again for your love, support, encouragement, and partnership in the Gospel!

Many blessings
Johann and Louise

Think new, do new…

Watching this video reminded me of what we always tell our trainees when we introduce them to Strategy and Foundations. This is a paradigm shift. This is not the way you are used to “doing” church!
In this video you will see how a man who knew perfectly well how to ride a bicycle has to change the way his brain works in order to ride on a “backwards” bicycle…it took him eight months of daily practice to actually get it right! But then, when he tried to ride a normal bicycle again, he found that his brain had to be reprogrammed again!
This is exactly what happens when we try to implement the training.
Think of it this way. Jesus made disciples. That is what He did for most of His adult life on this planet. He had a certain method that He used and it worked! Then, some time in history, perhaps during the Middle Ages, someone changed that method…someone recreated Jesus’ model and turned it around…made it “backwards”. Suddenly the church was inward focussed and started concentrating on building beautiful buildings and filling them with beautiful things so that people would come to them. That was not Jesus’ model! Jesus went to where the people were…He never started a building campaign, other than that made out of living stones…you and me!
So, now we come and we train you to follow Jesus’ method…the original method…the way this Church “bicycle was supposed to be used. But now you find you can’t do it…you have to reprogram your mind and your spirit to return to the Master’s original plan.
BUT, it can be done…if we practice daily and just do it. Discipleship needs to be done like Jesus did it if it is to bear lasting fruit…abundant fruit.
There are three types of people in the Church:
“Think old, do old” people who simply are not willing to change their thinking and ways of “doing” church.
“Think new, do old” people who have the knowledge, but not the understanding and therefore are not able to implement the truth they have learned about disciple making.
“Think new, do new” people who have both the knowledge and the understanding and therefore think and behave in a different way from the way they used to “do” church. This takes a lot of time, frustration, and dedication to get to a new way of thinking and doing…but, as I said before, it can be done!
PRESS ON beloved disciple makers! Press on and the Lord will reward you in due time!

May Newsletter 2018

“I can’t thank you enough for the spiritual armaments that you have imparted into my spirituality as well as ministry through this training. The material is so divine to extent that I have waited for such since 2008, but I really would not put my head around to formulate anything like that, even though I knew that something is missing in the way I teach the children of God. But now with this material every thing will be so easy.”

We received this email from Phiwa, one of our Natal Diocese trainees. Shortly after receiving it, we received another, this time from Swaziland. Mandla writes:

“God is helping us and we meet every Wednesday with the group around Mbabane. Busy with the 60 days Study in the life of Jesus Christ. I have also met the clergy from the East Region hope classes will be starting soon by Rev Ntokozo Ndzimandze.”

These are very encouraging testimonies especially since the latter comes from a training we did last year! God’s Word does not return to Him void, but it will accomplish what He has purposed. And this is the beauty of the material we use to train trainers of disciple makers…it is all Scripture. We open the Gospels and Acts and examine the way Jesus made disciples and then we apply the principles…the Holy Spirit truly does do the rest!

Louise and I returned from the US rearing to go. The Lord had blessed us exceedingly abundantly above all we could have asked for and He did it through our family and our friends. We are so grateful to have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us!

We had hardly hit the ground when we had to board a plane once again for Kwa-Zulu Natal. There we trained a few folks in Strategy and others in a new program for us called Rooted in Jesus. We had a marvellous time and were so encouraged by the excitement of the trainees…they loved Strategy so much they want to translate it into Zulu so that they can use it in the rural areas. We have sent them all the material as well as the translation in isi-Xhosa as the two languages are very similar. We are all anticipation to see what they do with it!

We will be leaving for Namibia next week as I was asked to preside at the wedding of my cousin’s daughter. What an amazing privilege! Bishop Luke Pato of Namibia has also asked us to train a few key members in Strategy. We are SO excited! We have been praying about this for a long time…this will be our first training in the country of my birth since we left in 1996!

This will also be the first time we use The Godmobile for a ministry trip! Thank you once again to our generous partners who made this purchase possible. There was even a bit of $ left over to help pay for insurance and fuel!

Items for Prayer:
Violent crime is rampant is southern Africa. Pray for protection
We are still in need of monthly donors for our personal support.
The funding we need to do the work of the ministry is dwindling. Pray for adequate funding to pay for training trips.
Pray for those we have trained, that they will apply the principles learned.
Pray for those working on the Zulu translation of Strategy.
Pray for our trips to Namibia, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

Please remember that we update our blog fairly frequently and so you can get up to date information there.

Thank you again and again for your support, your prayers, your encouragement, and for being our partners in this amazing ministry!

Johann and Louise