Reflections and Dreams

Last month, August 2017, marks half a decade since we landed in South Africa to live and serve alongside the ministry of 1Hope4Africa. Our plan and commitment at the time was for one year, but obviously, that was not the “real” plan (The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9).

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Landing in Johannesburg, South Africa.  August 2012

As we reflect on the ups and downs of the past five years, we can undoubtedly say that we have learned and continue to learn that:

  • Our God and His Word are sufficient for all circumstances of life. He is worthy of our trust and any difficulties that have come to us, as great as we have made them to be in our minds, in reality, were inconsequential in comparison to the infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present sovereign, loving Holy One.
  • As Christians, we belong to a purpose and cause so much larger than our individual lives or family. We belong to a global family of believers commissioned with the task of representing King Jesus in order to bring the gospel to a people in desperate need of hope.

“The incarnation is not a just an event; it also establishes an agenda, a set of plans to accomplish a goal. God’s agenda is for the church to be an incarnational community on earth, so that our very presence would reveal His grace and truth-laden glory.” Ted Tripp – Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand

I interviewed the family regarding highlights of our past five years in South Africa.   What has been your:

Best Surprise?

Most Memorable Moment?

Gabriel:  “On our first visit to Pilanesberg we saw an entire herd of at least 50 elephants of all ages and sizes romping in a small lake in the middle of the day.”

Sophia:  “Reading the Bible to a group of girls in Swaziland and seeing how joyful they were to listen.”

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Susan:  “The baptisms of Julia and Marissa.”

What have you learned?  Gabriel: “That God is everywhere and that God’s church can be even in the hardest places of the world like Vusi’s village in Swaziland.”

Elijah: “That people need Jesus and when Daddy goes to the park on Mondays, people want to hear about God.”

What do you miss the most about our lives in America? Gabriel: “ I really miss my friends and Costco food and Mexican food, and… also In-N-Out…”  He’s a pre-teen, growing like a weed.   Food is on his mind a lot.

Favorite Funny Story: The first baby I (Susan) ever held from the Muphamuzi Baby Home and our first Christmas baby was a sweet boy named Simon. He was adopted by our dear friends the DuToits whom we still visit with often. Recently, Lucinda (Simon’s mom) told me that she’d overheard a conversation that Simon was having with his little friends. Knowing that we cared for him at one time when he was an infant, he’d apparently told his friend that he came from Auntie Susan’s tummy.  I always wonder what is going on in his head whenever he sees me…

IMG_0985Most Encouraging: Randy:  “Picking up Lucky from a street corner to help with a small project, sharing the gospel and inviting him to church. (We shared his story here.)Then watching him continue to grow in his new faith. And also being part of the larger cause of church planting in Africa through faithful brothers like Newton (Malawi), Nickson (Zimbabwe) and Antony (Mozambique).”   By God’s transforming grace, our dear brother Lucky was baptized, along with 6 other transformed lives, this Sunday.

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Beautiful baptism service as each person shared their stories of God’s transforming work in their lives.  “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

Susan:  “Being introduced to and growing in my knowledge of the Biblical Counseling movement, especially the understanding that the Bible, given by God, is sufficient for all of life’s circumstances.  “When properly interpreted, it reveals to the believer all that is  necessary for one to understand his need for Christ, how he can please the Lord, and how to live in a God-honoring way regardless of the circumstances whether comfortable or oppressive.”  Understanding this truth has grown me in my love for God’s word and desire to know it better.  Also, I love, love, love being part of a global family united in our cause for Christ: because it is a picture of heaven.”

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The ministries represented in this photo: Pastor Vusi from Big Bend,Swaziland, the Chilingulo Family from a church plant in Malawi, Mary-Kate from a Hosea’s Heart in Manzini, Swazi, Rachel Palmberg who was headed to the red-light district in Thailand and the Clark Family from Pretoria, South Africa

Biggest disappointment: Unanimously our family agrees that our biggest disappointment has been our home robbery, which occurred in April of this year. But through this, we were reminded that God is sovereign and nothing happens apart from His knowledge and presence. Although it wasn’t always easy, we realized that we were given an opportunity to respond in a way that gives Him honor rather than with bitterness and anger.   We turned to God’s word for help: Matt 6:19-20 “ Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal,” and Romans 12:17 “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

MINISTRY UPDATES

Mission Malawi  IMG_0508Reformation Bible Church, the church plant in Lilongwe, Malawi, pastored by our dear friend and brother Newton Chilingulo is growing in more ways than through evangelism and discipleship. After eight years of praying and waiting, God has answered and quite unexpectedly… Vanessa is pregnant!! Living Hope Ladies celebrated with Vanessa when she visited Pretoria last by throwing her a baby shower.  She is due to deliver in October.IMG_2071

Marissa tried her hand at cake decorating for Vanessa’s shower.  Vanessa’s favorite animals are zebras.

Short Term Mission Trip        In July,  Randy traveled to Malawi to be part of the team sent by Living Hope Church.  Their mission was to encourage and support the Chilingulos and their church plant,  Reformation Bible Church.

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The Mission Malawi team with RBC members.

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Newton as Pastor.

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Members of the team had an opportunity to share about their mission trip over a local a radio station owned by one of Newton’s fellow seminary graduates.

German intern Micha was part of the Mission Malawi team and served with Living Hope Church for almost a year.  Sadly, last month we said goodbye to him as he returned to his home country.   A servant-hearted godly young man, he impacted many lives while here and truly became part of our church family.   He worked as Randy’s “right-hand man” quite a bit over the past year and is sorely missed!

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ACBC Africa Conference Early August  ACBC  (Association of Certified Biblical Counselor) held its annual Africa Conference entitled “Racism-When Colour Divides”, an appropriate topic in light of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Ironically, the conference was being held over the same week of these disturbing events.  Audios of this conference’s sessions can be found here.

Dreams for the Future:

21083099_10155835837274789_4443910050422071836_oAs another baby from the Muphamuzi Baby Home is placed with his forever family- Pictured here with Sarah, our Intern Director, we look to the future and dream about what God will be doing in the next five years and beyond.

17546781_1371671962856315_7000305824865451421_oLAUNCHING – MBH PHASE 2!

From Baby Home Director, Marda Mack: 

MUPHAMUZI BABY HOME IS EXPECTING!:)

BABY HOME #2  – Due Date – ASAP

As many of you know, some months back the Dept of Social Services suggested we request to become a “Cluster Care” property.  This means we would be allowed to have TWO baby homes on the same property.  Normally NOT allowed.  We are happy to report that after various meetings – Architects, City Planners, Dept of Social Services, and a Child Protection Organization, God seems to be swinging doors wide open for this opportunity.   We were met with enthusiasm in each meeting.   From Government workers to CPO workers, our expansion was met with full agreement and willingness to help wherever they can.   We were told our home is a “luxury home for babies” and more homes like this are needed!   The application is now in process.   We were not allowed to submit the application until we got “pre-approval” by all of the above parties.   So now, as we understand, it is a matter of getting paperwork done as requested.    

Muphamuzi Baby Home will be the very first “Cluster Care” property in South Africa that offers “temporary care” as our passion is the family and we pray that our babies will only be in our care for a short while as they await their forever family.   

We are chomping at the bit to get started.   This past month we have had to say no to SIX babies as our current home is already full!     Home #2 would have already been filled and this breaks our hearts each time we must legally say “sorry, we are full”!     

Will you pray with us that we can see the doors of MBH #2 open VERY soon?  

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Future Church Plants  One of Living Hope Church’s core values is that as part of the body of Christ, we are disciples who make disciples. “If the Great Commission is to be accomplished, we need healthy local churches all over the world that will fulfill this mission in their regions.” Over the next few years, Living Hope is excitedly anticipating two more church plants:

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Lord willing, Nixson Pasipaynoda and his family will return to their home country of Zimbabwe where he hopes to plant a church in the capital city of Harare in December 2018. Read more about Nixson and this church-planting project.

hlungwanesAlso, native South African Akani Hlungwane has been part of Living Hope since 2012 and plans to begin his Theological training within the next year. Akani, along with his wife Lerato, have a burden for seeing healthy, Bible-teaching churches established in the villages and rural areas of South Africa have hope to return to their home province of Limpopo to plant a church. Read more about this exciting work that God is doing.

Family Update Towards the end of this year we will be headed back to the United States to renew our visas once again.  This will be round three of visa applications, which are usually issued for three years.  Five years ago, we would never have imagined that we would be where we are today.  As we look ahead we know that the only course is to trust our good and gracious God because as Jerry Bridges puts it in his book “Trusting God”

“God in His love always wills what is best for us.  In His wisdom, He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty, He has the power to bring it about”

How Great is Our God

Praise be to you, Lord, from everlasting to everlasting.  Yours, Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.  Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.  

~1 Chronicles 29:10-11, 13

Most definitely in the last few months God’s greatness and power, glory, majesty and splendor has been on display, and we give thanks and indeed, praise his glorious name.

Muphamuzi Baby Home celebrated 5 years since its doors opened in February, 2012. We had a beautiful night of celebrating and reflecting on what God has done in those five years through this humble home. Not only has the home cared for 40 babies, but many families, caregivers, interns, donors, volunteers and mission teams from all around the world have been touched as they all willingly have taken part in what God is doing there.   The Baby Home requires approximately $3000/month in running costs which means that in the past 5 years God has provided $180,000 from donations to help cover the cost of caregivers, diapers, formula.  We have witnessed God’s hand over and over again: a baby is placed in the home, is lovingly cared and prayed for by caregivers, volunteers and interns, and under this care, the baby grows and thrives.  Then in God’s sovereign timing, the little one is placed in a family.  As Marda went through the list of all that God has done through the Baby Home, she ended each statement with, “How Great is our God!”.

Watch the video shown that night describing the mission of the Muphamuzi Baby Home by clicking here.17635242_1371670782856433_6163563097537150323_o

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Photo Gallery of the babies and the families they were placed in after our care.

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Baby home founders

DeWits and Macks several years ago had a dream of opening a home for abandoned and vulnerable children.  

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And the dream continues- Phase 2: expanding the current back building into a second baby home.

New Church Facility After years of praying for a new facility, we joyfully moved into the new building God has provided and held our first worship service on April 2nd – perfect timing for a Good Friday communion /church family meal and Resurrection Sunday service.

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Living Hope Church’s first worship service in our new building- How Great is our God!

Ministries in our neighboring country, Swaziland. We made a quick trip across the border to Swaziland to visit our dear Mary-Kate and her ministry to sexually abused children, Hosea’s Heart.  She took us out to her newly acquired land, 7 hectares (which is equivalent to over 17 acres).   She is dreaming and praying BIG, and prays that one day the land will occupy 14 buildings, including:  5 homes housing 8 girls and a house mom each, a home for teenaged moms, a director’s house , long term and short term volunteer housing, a school, a chapel,  multipurpose, offices/workshops and a guest house!  Whew!  How Great is our God!

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Hosea’s Heart’s newly acquired land has been cleared.  They are waiting for final official documents to come in and then they will be ready to break ground for phase 1!

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Hosea’s Heart Girl’s Home – God is working in each of these girls lives.  He has seen them and rescued them!  How Great is our God!

We also visited Pastor Vusi’s village in Big Bend, Swaziland.  We then brought him back to Pretoria with us in order that he may participate in our African Bible Training Classes (ABTC).

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Brothers in Christ walking with God together.

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Pastor Vusi, his wife Nombuso and their newest little one, Ben, in front of their new church building.  By God’s grace and to their joy, their building was ready for Easter Sunday’s service! How Great is our God!

Some of the girls in the village shared a beautiful song of God’s amazing grace!  “You washed my sins away and now I’m free!” (Also, note the photobombing chickens)

Tina and Bryan Bush, whom we are so thankful to for running 1Hope Ministries International in the U.S., came for a week to visit our family and the ministries of 1Hope4Africa. Sadly, at the end of their week, they also took home their daughter, Sarah, who had become part of our family over the last three months. Their week here also included a quick trip to South Africa’s Drakensberg (translated Dragon Mountains) where the splendor of God’s greatness was on full display!

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Bryan and Tina Bush with daughters Sarah and Hannah enjoying God’s creation!

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“And all will sing how great, how great is our God!”

Knowing God

“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesmen to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it .The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”  ― J.I. Packer, Knowing God

Ministry Programs Begin Again   At Living Hope Church we are serious about growing in our knowledge of God as He has revealed Himself in His Word and through His Son. So…after breaking for a few weeks over the holidays in December and January several, ministries are back up and in full swing:

Appropriately, Ladies Ministry ‘s theme this year for this year is Knowing God Together.  We will be studying the incommunicable attributes of God (which in common language translates to the qualities of God that are true only of Him.) This month we studied that God is “infinite.” He has no limits and is therefore unlimited in all his attributes.  Limitless in love, mercy and grace. Limitless in knowledge, wisdom and power. There is none like Him and so He is worthy of our worship and praise.

I am honored and privilege to be teaching a few times this year. It is a gift to be teaching my sisters about our great and infinite God, and I am thankful for the opportunity to grow in my knowledge of Him in this way.  Enjoy this quick video with our LHC ladies singing about knowing Him.

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Sisters in Christ agree:  Knowing You, Jesus…there is no greater thing.

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Sisters from all around the world: Mexico, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Congo, South Africa and  U.S. pause for a moment to pray to the One “whose world it is and who runs it.”

Our Children’s Church and Creche (nursery) which cares for children ages 6 and below during our sermon time resumed at the end of January. Thanks to the funds raised by Calvary Church VBS during our time with them back in August, we have launched a new Sunday School program for preschoolers using curriculum from Children Desiring God. The children will learn Bible stories that will encourage them to understand more of the greatness of God in Christ, as well as begin to hide God’s Word in their heart through the Foundation Verses memory program. We are thankful for the privilege to be starting this program with these little ones and pray that God would use it not only in their young lives, but also the lives of the teachers and families to grow in their knowledge of God.img_0937

African Bible Training Centre has added two more courses to their already running Old Testament Course. Julia, Randy and I will be taking the survey of the New Testament class every other week where we will look at every book of the New Testament. Julia, Marissa and Randy will be looking at Systematic Theology to study foundational Biblical truths.16473686_10154255446651629_8947202079938978859_n

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Equipping the saints

Swaziland Pastor Vusi whom we met last year visiting with a mission team from my sister and brother-in-law’s church has come to join in on these two classes this past week and is hopeful to continue with these classes with the help of Hope Chapel, Hermosa Beach. It is precious to witness Pastor Vusi’s humble heart and his hunger to learn more of God’s word and be willing to make the long trek (9 hours on public transport) to Pretoria to take part in these classes. (watch a beautiful video of Pastor Vusi’s rural community here)

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Pastor Vusi with Elijah


Muphamuzi Baby Home
Our oh so sweet Christmas Baby was reunited with his birth mama last month and we believed that God has heard our prayers for this sweet boy and answered.16107223_1216483218435795_657476714987062252_o

Two more babies have also been placed in foster families over the past few months. Foster families in South Africa is at least a two year placement and the first step towards adoption if the courts rule favorably.

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The Lord has provided Baby T (far left) with a family. Garakai and Makonnea are the Baby Home house parents!

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Our dear friends and fellow 1Hope missionaries brought home baby girl R (also far left)

Interns are needed: From our Director of Interns, Sarah Ray : 1Hope accepts interns throughout the year. (We can accommodate up to 2 ladies at a time, so sometimes it is fun to do the internship with a friend or sister!) Our interns serve at Living Hope Church (www.livinghopechurch.co.za) and Muphamuzi Baby Home, are discipled regularly in the Word of God, and are encouraged daily to live life for God’s glory.

intern-recruitment-flyerThe initial qualifications for female* interns are:


  • committed believers in Jesus Christ who are currently active in their local church
  • at least 18-years-old at the time of coming to South Africa

  • ideally, able to commit to a 3-month period of service with us

If you know of ladies in your church or family who would be interested in learning more, would you personally let them know of this opportunity? They can email me at sarah.ray.1hope@gmail.com for a Prospective Intern Information Packet or with any questions.

 

Visitors     When Sarah Bush first travelled to South Africa with her family as part of a mission team in 2013, it was done very reluctantly. However, The Lord moved in her heart on that trip and since then she has joined two other mission teams to South Africa from Grace Church of Orange. Now, on her fourth visit to a place she originally dreaded to come to, she has journeyed willingly and joyfully and is joining the life of Living Hope Church and the Clark family for three months. She has blessed us with a servant attitude and is helping me with the daily homeschooling, volunteering at the baby home, plugging into the different ABTC classes, providing childcare for communion and Ladies Bible study.

Our Mission Malawi family, the Chilingulos are also in Pretoria as they are seeking medical attention for Vanessa. She has two separate appointments and we are praying that she will receive the medical care that is necessary to help her. Please pray for these dear ones.

Church Facility!  We joined Living Hope Church in 2012 and over the past four years the congregation has doubled in size. The small hall that we rent from the Lutheran Seminary overflows on most Sundays. For the past couple of years Sunday school and creche has been held outside under easy-up tents.  Every Sunday Randy has packed up our van and trailer with sound equipment, easy-up tents and tables and toys and books and craft-supplies for the creche and Sunday school, tables and coffee urn, and mugs for the coffee table.  He has gotten it down to a science and as soon as he pulls into the parking lot, many servant-hearted hands are there ready to set up church. We have prayed and search, and then prayed and search some more for a different facility that would better suite our perceived needs.  And God’s answer all this time has been “not yet.” As we have prayed, we believed our need was for a different building to rent or purchase, but God in His sovereignty has shown us that our real need was to grow in our dependence and contentment trusting Him.  We believed our need was for a proper place to hold our Sunday children’s program, but our real need was to give our people opportunities to serve in helping set up tables and tents.  We believed our need was for a space to hold church events such as communion, ladies Bible study, ABTC classes but our real need was to give people an opportunity to serve the church with hospitality opening their homes for these church events. And then suddenly out of nowhere in casual conversation our elders became aware of a Presbyterian church in financial need looking for another church to rent their extra space. In a matter of a few short weeks a contract has been presented for much larger space, more hours on Sunday, availability during the week all for less rent!  The news was announced at our church family meeting today and there was great rejoicing!  We are thankful to our good Father who always knows what we need when we need it and who gives good things to those who ask!

Family Holiday  Just before all the ministries started up again, we were blessed to take a few day off to enjoy one of our favorite RSA destinations.  Truly a wonderful way to grow in the knowing God is spending time in His awe-inspiring creation!

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In case you noticed, there is an extra Clark child in this photo.  Micah, who is interning with 1Hope is  from Germany and  joined us for our family holiday.

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God Incarnate

 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you, through his poverty, might become rich.”
-2 Cor 8:9

“We now see what it meant for the Son of God to empty himself and become poor…It meant love to the uttermost for unlovely human beings, who through his poverty might become rich. The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity-hope for pardon, hope for peace with God, hope for glory-because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message the world has ever heard, or will hear.”   – from “Knowing God”, by J.I. Packer

Packer goes on to discuss our rightful response to this Christmas message: that we, like our Master, must live our whole lives on the principle of making ourselves poor, on “spending and being spent-to enrich fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern to do good to others” All to the glory of God.

Hope for Swazi  We had the privilege of working alongside a beautiful example of this “spending and being spent” this past Thanksgiving week as my sister, Jocelyn and her husband, Mark, lead a team from their church, Hope Chapel in Hermosa Beach, CA, to Swaziland to work is a small rural village building a church for Pastor Vusi. For a couple days we enjoyed working alongside the team in Swazi which was lush and green due to recent rains. It was priceless and precious to be “on mission” with my sister who is also my sister in Christ!

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Elijah with his new buddies as they paused from their soccer game to pose.

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Here Gabriel, hold this for a minute.  “Oh, okay…”

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Randy spent time encouraging and being encouraged by Pastor Vusi, a faithful man of God who is hungry to further his training and be better equipped to do the work God has called him to.

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I had the joy of reading God’s word and praying with this new precious sister Nombuso. Together with her husband, Pastor Vusi, they run the Care Point of Big Bend where they hold church services and Bible Studies and feed the community. They also run two “Angel Houses” – a boys and girls’ home which care for children who have no family.

Below are before and after photos of the church building.  We were only there for two days, but the Hope for Swazi team worked so hard and accomplished much in the five days they were there.  Not only did they build a physical building, but through their love and encouragement to Pastor Vusi and the community, they built up the the spiritual church of King Jesus in this small rural village!

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Their final evening and morning in Africa the team spent with our family in Pretoria!

At the airport– Never fun to say good bye to loved ones:

Living Hope Christmas Celebrations  Back in Pretoria – The Ladies’ Bible Study group wearing Christmas red gathered for one final time this year to celebrate the birth of Christ.img_0501

All of Living Hope Church gathered for its annual Christmas Celebration with an international dinner.  We all brought food from our country of origin. After sharing this amazing, taste-of-heaven meal together, different members blessed us with Christmas songs.

 

Christmas Baby The Muphamuzi Baby Home will be closed over the Christmas holiday to provide much needed rest for the caregivers and volunteers. We are honored and thankful for the privilege to care for our annual Christmas Baby during the next week and a half until the Baby Home reopens in January.

 

Refugee families Update  In our previous update we shared about two families in our church who were struggling to obtained refugee status in this country. Sadly, neither family was granted the documents needed. The couple who sat waiting in prison for several months and whose children were being held separately in a place of safety, were given just a few hours notice and the entire family was placed on an airplane headed back to their country of origin. We have heard from them and they are safe, although the country is currently experiencing much turmoil and unrest during these past few weeks. The other family who has been reunited for the past few months will soon be taken to a refugee camp in a neighboring country where they have lived before. Both families are obviously still in desperate need of prayer as they seek to resettle and make their way.

Although this was not the outcome we had hoped for, we hold on to the many precious truths that God reveals to us in His word. We know that many have prayed for these families and we trust that God has heard these requests. We know that He is sovereign, He is in control, and He is on His throne. We know that although things appear to have gone wrong, they  haven’t really gone wrong at all. We know that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8: 18) We know that through the seemingly “bad” circumstances that God brings into our lives, He uses them to work for our “good”. And that “good” is shaping us and conforming us into the image of His Son who came to us 2000 years ago under poor, pitiable scandalous circumstances. His suffering and dying a brutal criminal’s death has meant redemption for those who, by faith “love him and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28-29.

I love the way John Newton, former slave trader and writer of the beloved classic hymn “Amazing Grace”, says it:

Everything is needful that he sends; nothing can be needful that he withholds.

We also hold on to the most dazzling and triumphant truth of all time: “For I am convinced”, the apostle Paul confidently declares at the end of Romans 8, “ that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”

Clark Family Birthdays   At the end of October our sweet, servant-hearted Sophia celebrated her 11th birthday by attended a production of “Annie” at the Montecasino Theatre in Johannesburg.img_0293

Our  brilliant budding artist, Marissa Joy, turned 14 at the end of November. Her artwork was displayed at a student exhibition at a local gallery where she takes art lessons.img_0301

Both girls enjoyed using their gifts serving in Swaziland:

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Although the kids of Swazi spoke very little English, they could not get enough of listening to Sophia read. From far off you would see several children huddled together.  As you approached to take a closer look, you would find Sophia at the bottom of the pile reading from her Bible!

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After a day in Swazi, Marissa discovered that God could use even her artistic abilities for His glory. She spent the morning writing a verse in SiSwati on the wall of the Boy’s Home.

 

The Clark Family wish you a joyful and blessed Christmas.   Our prayer for you in the New Year is that,  “you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thank to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”   -Col 1: 10-12

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The Clark Family wishes you joy and blessing this Christmas season and in the New Year!

 

 

Spring Updates

acbcafrica_living_active-croppedACBC Africa Conference  Upon our return to South Africa in August from our six week visit to California, the Association of Biblical Counselors, Africa in partnership with Living Hope Church and other churches, held its second annual conference teaching on the sufficiency of scripture in counseling all areas of life. Although adjusting to such a different time zone is always a challenge, we were able to attend parts of the conference and soak up teaching on the wonderful truths that God’s word is truly is sufficient. All the sessions were excellent, but this one in particular (click on “Heath Lambert-My Personal Journey to the Sufficiency of Scripture”)  gives amazing testimony to the sufficiency of God’s grace to overcome some of the most painful and dark circumstances this world may give us. If you have an opportunity, it is a must listen!

As a result, the leaders of Living Hope church were inspired to put together a year-long program to train and equip us for ministry in coming alongside people as a faithful friend and helping them to grow spiritually and honour God in their various life situations by wisely counseling them with biblical truth.” Randy and I are both excited be taking part in this training which began this month.

First Biblical Counseling Ministry Training Meeting

First Biblical Counseling Ministry Training Meeting

 

Muphamuzi Baby Home  tobyWe are thankful that God has provided for our little Christmas Baby  from last year!  This month he has been placed  with a wonderful South African family that will foster him until he can be legally adopted.  To God be the glory for his goodness and kindness!

The little guy picture below has been with the Baby Home since he was just 10 days old and this month has celebrated his one-year birthday.  His situation is quite complicated, but we are praying for him to also be placed in a loving home that will point him to Christ.
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Intern visits and revisits  Our newest intern, Danielle, is from Germany and is the younger sister of an intern who served at the Baby Home earlier last year. Former MBH interns,  Emily (from California) and Sarah (from Switzerland) have returned to Pretoria for a visit with Living Hope Church family.

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Emily, Julia, Danielle, and Sarah

Discipleship Opportunities  Living Hope church seeks to be a church of disciples making disciples.

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Randy with the group of men he has been 
spending time with sharing God’s truths.  The young man to the right of Randy is an intern from Germany who will be with us for about 10 months.

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Living Hope Kids!

Prayer Request As I have mentioned in the past, Living Hope church is a beautiful, diverse community with families/believers from many different nations. Most of our immigrant families have been granted asylum/refugee status by the government, but two families have struggled with this and have lived outside the United Nations building for over a year attempting to obtain the paperwork necessary for them to remain in the country. Earlier this year, the men of these two families were taken to prison and their wives and children were place in shelter homes with the threat of being deported.  You can read about one these families in the Pretoria New article.

For the past several months, once a week Randy has driven to the prison in order to visit, encourage and pray with our brothers in Christ. Since then, one family has been released and the family reunited, but another husband along with his wife are in prison apart from their children. They have lawyers advocating for them as it is believed that they have grounds for refugee status.  This case has been heart-breaking to watch, but at the same time so encouraging to see these men stand firm in their faith trusting and understanding that our lives rest in God’s sovereign hands. It has also been wonderful to see God work through his church to bring encouragement to these families.  Please pray for this brother  in Christ and his family.  That he would be encouraged and stand firm trusting God although the situation, from a human perspective, appears hopeless.  That he would find favor with the SA government and be granted asylum so that he may be released from prison and his family can be reunited.

New Neighbors We were thrilled for our friends, ministry partners and neighbors, the Dewit family, when they purchased a home of their own!  Our year and a half having them live in the 2 bedroom flat on our property was a special season of community that we are thankful for.

God has brought us new neighbors. Sarah Ray, who came to Living Hope/1Hope in January of this year from Arkansas to serve as the Muphamuzi Baby Home intern director and also to help with ladies discipleship. She loves the Lord and has been an encouragement and a blessing to our church family and the baby home.  Her roomie, Lu, has become like a sweet daughter to me. She has a deep passion for the Lord and as a newer believer is learning more and more what it means “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10)

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We welcome and are thankful for our new neighbors, Lu and Sarah!

Family Updates:  August 22 marked our fourth year of life in South Africa for our family. Looking back on our journey, we can only marvel at God’s sovereign and gracious hand on us as he has gently and lovingly lead us along the way. We stand in awe of a good and holy God; that there is nothing about us that would cause him to choose us to be part of His family and even more so that He would give us the privilege to serve Him in this way.

This fall (spring for us) all the kids have started a new year of schooling and my primary focus continues to be on the education and discipling of my five precious children. We are so thankful for Lu (one of our new neighbors)who has been lovingly and firmly helping us with the homeschooling of our youngest, Elijah, who is now in third grade. She approaches each teaching session in prayer with the focus that their time together is to glorify God! What a gift she has been.

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Our one room school house!

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Marissa (with  Sam), age 13, 8th grade/  Gabriel, age 11, 6th grade/ Julia (with Rosie) age 16, 11th grade/  Sophia, age 10, 5th grade/ Elijah age 9, 3rd grade

Fullness of Joy

 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps. 16:11

This past month has been so full; stuffed full to the brim with the fullness of joy through God’s richest blessings and kindness! Although we know that the greater eternal joy is yet to come, he blesses us with tastes of it here and one of the most tangible ways he does that is through relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Mission Team In June, we were blessed to host a mission team from one of our home churches. This is the fourth mission team Grace Church of Orange has sent to partner with 1Hope4Africa. It has been so fun to remember the very first team that was sent back in 2012 that Randy was a part of that lead to our move across the world.Mission team5

DSC_0297The mission team worked and played hard with us: painting and cleaning and organizing the front part of the Muphamuzi Baby Home in preparation for new house parents.

Digging, clearing, planting around our new counseling/teaching center that was christened “The Bible House”, a small wooden structure erected in the backyard of one of our  church family’s home. The Safaris live close to Sunnyside where many of our church families reside. They graciously agreed to have the building built on their land for the purpose of holding Bible courses and pastoral counseling.

The team provided childcare for an Evangelism training day and helped Living Hope Church host their 2nd annual Fun Day. They also took part in outreach at the University of Pretoria, home visits and Bible study in the refugee community of Savakop, and our monthly communion service.

U.S Visit  Two days after the team left, our family boarded an airplane leaving the chilly weather of Pretoria for sunny coastal southern California where we are currently staying for six weeks. So much joy to be had in the reunion of family and friends that we have not seen and hugged in a year and a half. It is a mere reflection of the glorious Ultimate Reunion waiting for us on eternity’s shores.

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Drone selfie with family.

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Precious moments with Susan’s dad.

What joy it has been to also have our “sixth” child “Balekane” travel with us. We shared her testimony here (scroll down to “Family Additions”) and since her joining the Living Hope Church family, she has become a constant family member for us as well and we have had the joy of her being with us for a few weeks.  She has motivated us to do some L.A. sightseeing that we would not have otherwise done.

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La Brea Tar Pits

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LACMA

So so fun to have the Mack family join us for a weekend and have Josh, our South African pastor, preach at our American church!

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Living Hope Church wth Grace Church of Orange (Irvine Regional Park)

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Also, through no collaboration or previous planning, the Chilligulos (Mission Malawi church plant) are  also in Orange County. What a shock it was for Randy to find Newton in the restroom of a Costco. We did know they were somewhere in Southern California, but did not know exactly where, until then!

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Surprise run-in!

They are now spending a few days with us and, as always, it is a joy to be with them:dinner with chillingulos

Randy and I celebrated our 20 years of marriage this month! What a gift is has been for us to go back to the words read at our wedding from Eccelesiates 4:9-12:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls
 and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken

We feel such gratitude and joy and are humbled that God has allowed this truth to be manifested in our lives. “Two” has indeed been so much better that “one”. We have indeed picked each other up, kept each other warm and defended one another. We are thankful that God is the third cord in our strand of marriage and has been what has sustained us and kept us strong these past twenty years. To Him alone be the glory!

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Twenty years!  So thankful!

We are looking forward to getting back to our Living Hope Church family in Pretoria:

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Latest Living Hope Church photo

VBSBut before then, we will have the privilege of being the missionaries for Calvary Church of Santa Ana’s Vacation Bible School. It will be a privilege to share the work and ministry that God is doing through 1Hope and Living Hope. Our prayer is that as children hear what God is doing across the world, they will be drawn to the beauty and majesty of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The God Who Sees

I’ve been reading John Piper’s latest book “Peculiar Glory” and just came across this one section titled “The Heart of His Glory: Majesty in Meekness”. Piper states that God is more glorious because he is a “paradoxical juxtaposition of seemingly opposite traits rather than being a manifestation of only majestic strengths…the majestic heights of God are glorified especially through the way they serve or stoop in lowliness to save the weak.” This is what Piper calls God’s “peculiar glory”and Jesus is the embodiment of it: “When Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, steps down in humanity this is what he claims for himself: “The Son of Man came not be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45) His glory was not in the recruitment of servants to meet his needs, but in the extreme willingness to serve, even to the point of giving his life for those who would trust him.” What a glorious Savior indeed!

Here are some highlights from the last couple of months:

Living Hope Baptisms    What could be more appropriate, but that Living Hope Church would celebrate Easter with a baptism service? So thankful for the ten that were baptized that evening.DSC_0589

But what an even deeper blessing, privilege and joy to witness your child, in obedience to Christ, make a public profession of her faith through baptism and to realize that she is not only my child, but also my sister in Christ. Although she was trembling from nerves, our Marissa Joy boldly and confidently gave her testimony:

I grew up in a Christian family and have heard the gospel all my life however I never had the peace that when I die I would go to heaven. I found my happiness in things like movies and friends. It was Easter Sunday 2015; the sermon really spoke to me. I was in bed that night and I prayed, “Father in heaven thank you for sending your son to die on the cross for a terrible sinner like me full of pride, selfishness, deceit and deserves to go to hell.  Through sending your son you have allowed me to be one of your children” And as Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing it is a gift of God not as result of works that no one may boast.”

From that day on I was not the same.  I have peace knowing that what ever hardships may come, my God is for me, and that he has a plan for my life and chose me before the foundations of the world….  Now, I have hope because of what Christ did for me, a deeper yearning for Christ and desire a to grow and give him glory. As a result, my future goals have changed from thinking about what would best for me, to what would be best to glorify God…I know that one day I will be able to live with my savior for eternity in a place where there is no sorrow, no sin, no sickness, and no death.

Part of my mission statement is Colossians 3: 1 which says, “If then you have been raised with Christ seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”  I want to focus my life not on earthly things but things that are eternal.

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but know I am found, was blind but know I see. My chains are gone I’ve been set free my God my savior has ransomed me and like flood his mercy rains unending love amazing grace.”

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DSC_0515Muphamuzi Baby Home 4-year Birthday Celebration

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.  Isaiah 1:17

It has been four years since the Muphamuzi Baby Home opened it doors. As we reflect on how God sovereignly brought 37 babies in our care over these past four years, we are reminded of that God is “El Roi”, the “God who sees”. The King of kings is on His throne. He sees and knows and is close at hand and never sleeps. He is caring for these tiny ones.

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Baby Home Staff

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Sophia with Muphamuzi himself (whom the Baby Home was named after)

And the newest little one that just arrived last week is about as smiley as can be:New Baby

Living Hope Church Facility Update Here is an excerpt from our leadership giving reasons for our church’s need for a proper facility of our own:

“Living Hope is about 6½ years old. Our church has met in a home, a flat, a tent, and for over 4 years now, in a Lutheran Seminary building. This current facility brings several challenges: the rent is high, the facility has no foyer area for people to interact, it has no classrooms for crèche (nursery) and children’s church (we currently use tents outside), and it is only available to us on a Sunday afternoon (during prime nap time!) for 2 hours, shortening our time together on Sundays and tying our hands regarding a number of ministries we would love to run if we had a facility for more than just this 2 hour time slot. Over the years, we have looked high and low for another facility, but with no success.

But we have now found a property for sale which would be a great fit for our ministry needs!. It’s large enough to cover our current ministry needs and provide some real possibilities into the future (2,380 square metres!). Further, it has a flat roof and we are told we could even build a second floor. The outside structure is sturdy and in great condition. The inside is mostly dry wall and would be very easily renovated as needed. The property is only 2 blocks away from the Baby Home.

If we are able to purchase this property, it would be used for the following:

  • Living Hope Church Worship Services
  • Varied Living Hope Church ministries (Sunday School classes, counseling, small groups, ministry team meetings, church events, seminars and conferences, etc)
  • A Library and Resource Centre
  • Living Hope Church offices (we currently do not have church offices)
  • African Bible Training Centre classes (currently meeting at Lynnwood Baptist Church, far outside our target area)
  • 1Hope4Africa offices (we currently do not have 1Hope4Africa offices)

We have other ideas as well…

Of course, the church is much more than a building, but as we’ve found out, it really helps to have a building! Through a church facility we hope to further the ministry of our church, to the glory of God.”

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Is this the future site of Living Hope Church?? Please be in prayer.

Clark Family News: Next month will be a busy month for us! June 9-19th we will be hosting a mission team from Grace Church of Orange. We are looking forward to connecting. Two days after they leave, we will be following them back to the U.S. for a six week visit with our community of family, friends, church family in Orange County.

The Gospel is Real

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10

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Andre (South African Afrikaans), Michael (Zimbabwe English), Ally (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Micha (Germany), Gabriel (Panama), Randy (U.S.A)

If there one thing we absolutely love about Living Hope Church is the fact that although we are small in numbers we are a body of believers from all around the globe and when we gather to worship King Jesus it is a foretaste of heaven. Currently, we are going through a series on what it means to be a member of the local church and last Sunday Donovan reminded us that when the church is deeply united, God is glorified. Testimony is given that something supernatural has happened and that the gospel is real.

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The gospel IS real and so we are blessed to host Living Hope’s communion service every other month in our home.

Ladies Ministry: Year two of Ladies Ministry is in full swing. We gathered together on a Saturday in January for our year kick-off with a “Women on a Mission” conference together and have now resumed our study of the book of Galatians. We are learning over and over from the Apostle Paul the amazing truth that the gospel is real and that our righteous standing before God is not a result of performing goods works for God, but is a result of faith alone in what Christ has done on our behalf.

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Living Hope Church Ladies

Project Timothy: One of the ongoing ministries of 1Hope is Project Timothy. From the website: Project Timothy is a focused, comprehensive, church-centered program that seeks to mentor godly men from Africa for biblically faithful, effective pastoral ministry, so that more healthy churches are planted and existing churches are strengthened, for the saving of the lost, the maturing of believers, and the glory of God. Two men are currently being supported through Project Timothy, Nixson , who recently graduated from seminary and is training to be an elder at Living Hope and Antony from Malawi who currently in year two as a student at Christ Seminary. Also pictured is Micha, a young man from Germany who has come to intern with Living Hope and 1Hope.

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Project Timothy: Nixon, Micha and Antony

The Muphamuzi Baby Home has welcomed two new members to its staff:  Sarah Ray from Little Rock, Arkansas has joined the 1Hope team as Director of Interns for the MBH. She has committed to two years and has jumped right in to ministry life.  Emily Kirk has joined us as a Baby Home intern for the next few months.

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Welcome Sarah Ray!

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Emily always has a baby in arms!

1Hope Fun Day– As the ministry team grows, we must be intentional to spend time fellowship and growing together. In order to facilitate this, Andre and Karlien put on a Master Chef competition for the members of 1Hope.  It was great fun and Handy Randy was on the winning team!

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1Hope4Africa Master Chef Competition 2016 Winners

 

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The entire 1Hope team

A Lucky Story One Sunday before church, Randy was on his way to the hardware store to pick up cement and other supplies for a building project. Usually, there are several men hanging around the outside of the store hoping to get hired for the day, but this Sunday morning there was only one man holding up his arm in attempts to catch the attention of those driving by. Randy found the man still there after leaving the store. It was a Sunday and we really had no work for him, but Randy figured he could be of help by unloading the bags of cement for us,  and so picked him up. Lucky (the man’s name) worked hard that hot summer morning unloading the heavy bags and when it was time to get ready for church, Randy intended to drop him back off where he found him.

Before he sent him on his way, Randy handed Lucky a booklet that Pastor Josh has written entitled, “The Best Story Ever”.  This little book carefully and Biblically details God’s redemption of man through the glorious gospel. Lucky’s response surprised Randy when he said, “Oh, I have that book.” (And since only a few hundred of the books are in print, my first very skeptical, suspicious response when Randy told me was, “No, he doesn’t. He’s making that up.”) Lucky went on to tell Randy that “some white guy handed it to him” while he was selling things at the stoplight and showed Randy the chapter he was on. Randy then asked him if he would like to come to church because the author of the book is our pastor. Lucky did come to church with us that Sunday, but afterwards we did not hear back from him despite Randy’s attempts to get in contact with him.

Two Sundays later, however, at 9am, Lucky showed up at our gate wanting to go to church. After asking around, we discovered that Micha, the German intern, hands out the booklets to the people begging or selling items at the stoplights.  Lucky was in need of work and a place to stay, but more importantly he was in need of the Savior. We have been privileged to be placed in Lucky’s life for now to help him with his physical needs, but more blessed to be able to share the love of Christ with him. In the month that we have known this young man, he has proven himself to be a very diligent, consistent worker and he has made efforts to come to church although he now lives very far away. We pray that God may open the eyes of his heart that he may see that the gospel is real and come to a genuine saving faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Randy, Lucky and Micha

Lucky’s story reminds me that our Sovereign God is a God who is near. He sees and cares for all. From the sparrow that falls to ground to a hungry man looking for work standing outside a hardware store – not one is outside our Father’s care.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10: 29-31

Family News: So far in 2016 our family has had three birthdays:

Elijah turned 9 in January:

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Elijah with his best bud, Lincoln Mack

Gabriel turned 11 in February:

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Our always inquisitive Gabriel

Julia turned sweet 16 in March:

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Good friends join Julia to celebrate

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To celebrate Julia’s sweet 16th, good friends enjoyed a stage production of “Singin’ in the Rain”

Since South Africa was voted most beautiful country in the world, we figured we may as well experience it while we are here!   Back in January we were thankful to get away a bit and enjoy some family time together hiking, biking and horseback riding in the magnificent beauty of this country.  DSC_0302

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Joy and Blessings to you from the Clark Family!

Behold the Lamb

Due to the global weather phenomenon, “El Niño,” which periodically occurs due to the warming of ocean temperatures, South Africa is currently in the grip of a severe drought. As a result it has been the hottest, stickiest, driest summer we have experienced so far. But this did not prevent a very sudden and extreme hailstorm to hit our neighborhood a few weeks ago, which caused our kids to run out and pretend it was snow. Unfortunately this resulted in quite a bit of damage to our newly planted flower garden but thankfully, our roses are rallying.

In a matter of minutes, our lawn and garden was covered in white.

In a matter of minutes, our lawn and garden was covered in white.

In everything give thanks (1 Cor 5:18). In November, in honor of our beloved American holiday, the grocery stores in Pretoria stocks frozen turkeys. The largest turkeys I was able to get my hands on was a whopping 4.24 kg (9.35 lbs) and only took 1 ½ hours to cook! We needed three of these birds to feed our Thanksgiving party.

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Girls/women guarding the desserts

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Boys carving the turkeys

Mission Malawi Update We are thrilled to report that the Chilingulos have returned to Malawi. All of Chisomo’s necessary paperwork, after three months of waiting, has come through. We were grateful to have them celebrate Thanksgiving with us and so enjoyed having them stay with us awhile.  But as much as we will miss them, they were overjoyed to return home to the life and ministry that God has called them to in Lilongwe, Malawi.

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Mission Malawi-The Chilingulos are back in Malawi together!  Just before they left, we had one last celebration with them at our Thanksgiving dinner. Very appropriate as there was much to give thanks for!

Living Hope Church Children’s Ministry One year ago, if you were to visit Living Hope Church during the sermon time, you would have seen mothers sitting out on the lawn with their babies or chasing their young toddlers through the service at the same time trying to catch a few words from the sermon through a speaker that was set up on the outside of the church. But due to the ministry of the ladies (in the photo below) and the commitment of men coming early to help set up the tents and tables LHC had a nursery for the babies and Children’s Church for preschoolers this year. Our preschoolers learned the books of the Bible, questions and answers from a Children’s Catechism and memory verses. We pray that one day God will provide a church building for Living Hope and Sunday school can be held for all the children, but until then, we are excited for another year of children’s ministry Living Hope Church style.

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The teachers and helpers of this year’s children’s ministry gathered for a meeting and teacher appreciation celebration.  Thankful for their ministry.

New Seminary Graduate For the last four years, Nixson Pasipanodya left his family every two weeks and travelled three hours north to the town of Polokwane in order to attend classes at Christ Seminary where he was working to earn a bachelors degree in theology. His wife, Esther, sacrificially, would say good-bye to her husband for two weeks a month managing her home and three children without a husband and daddy. They grew in their trust and dependence on God to provide for their family.  Nixson’s diligence and perseverance has paid off and at the end of November, LHC celebrated his cum laude graduation!! Nixson’s words from an excerpt in the graduation program:

“It is our duty now as we leave the seminary to go and entrust the great truths of Scripture to faithful men so that we can have men who are able to cut straight the word of God, a thing which I believe will bring great transformation to our continent…May God indeed help us to stand firm and be grounded on His Word alone, even when the tide is going against us. For we know whom we have believed and we are convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to us. (2 Timothy 2:12)”

Amen. We are privileged to stand alongside Nick and his family as they seek to further the gospel throughout the continent of Africa.DSC_0504

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Nick and Esther with their children and his graduation cake!

Family News Marissa and Sophia both celebrated birthdays this spring (American fall). Sophia is 10 years old and with Marissa turning 13, we now have two teens in our family.

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Marissa and Sophia with their BFFs (Caitlyn and Bayley Mack)

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13th Birthday Celebration

Family Additions The Muphamuzi Baby Home will be closed for the holidays in order to give the caregivers rest and time with their families. We have the privilege of caring for this sweet baby boy (only for 1 ½ weeks). He is one of the newest little ones at the Baby Home and is just over a month old. Precious Eternal Soul.

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Our “Happy Little Chappy” Christmas Baby

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Sweet Little “Toby” will be with our family for a week and a half.

20 year-old Balekane is a student at a local private art college, who last June at the prompting of a friend, found herself compelled to listen to sermons by Paul Washer. She listened to the same sermons over and over until she became aware of the truth that, contrary to what she previous believed, she was not “good”, but a sinful person in need of redemption and reconciliation to God. In her searching she learned the truth: that this has already been graciously, mercifully, and lovingly accomplished by the finished work of Christ on the cross. She also began reading her Bible and in a short amount of time read through the entire New Testament. She continued to listen to sermons online, but also began searching and praying for a church. Through a series of God-ordained events and to our delight, she found herself at Living Hope Church. Bale lives with her parents only a few minutes from us and we have officially “adopted” her as the sixth child and oldest sister. She joins us at least one evening a week and shares her amazing artistic talents with our kids.

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Christmas cake decorating with new oldest sister, Balekane.  “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”  John 1:29

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Clarks.  We pray that now and in the new year you may experience a deeper sense of God’s eternal goodness and glorious grace and boundless blessing as you Behold the Lamb.

“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away our sin.

Behold the Lamb of God, the life and light of men.

Behold the Lamb of God, who died and rose again.

Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away our sins.”

                                                        –Andrew Peterson

 

Spring Happenings

The Jacaranda City  October in Pretoria is marked by clouds of purple on every major street as the estimated 70,000 jacaranda trees begin their yearly bloom. These trees are not indigenous to South Africa and the first two trees were imported from Brazil in 1888 and planted at what is now Sunnyside Primary School (Where we held AWANA for two years). The trees did so well in Pretoria that the government commissioned a horticulturist to line every major street with jacarandas. Ironically, these trees are now considered an invasive plant and it is no longer legally to plant new ones. The city is stunning purple profusion and we are in awe of it and the paintbrush of our Creator when our daily activities require us to drive around the city.

One of many purple roads on our way home from church.

One of many purple roads on our way home from church.

Monday evening sports ministry at Jacaranda Park, Sunnyside, Pretoria

Monday evening sports ministry at Jacaranda Park, Sunnyside, Pretoria

Mission Malawi Update

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Breakfast with the Chilingulos

Newton and his family have been in Pretoria recently attempting to acquire their daughter’s official unabridged birth certificate.  Their first application was submitted in January.  They were told it would take 6 months, but they waited beyond that time period in order to allow Home Affairs plenty of time to do their job.  They arrived in Pretoria in September, optimistic that all would be finalized, only to discover that their case was closed in July without any notice. They submitted a second application at the beginning of September, but when they went to check on it about one month later, one office said it was in process while the other claimed it was never received. It has been quite frustrating and discouraging  for them as they  have had to apply for this document four times due to the lack of efficiency of the department in charge. Every time they speak to someone or go down to the Home Affairs office, they get the run around and are asked to re-apply.  Because new South African law does not permit children to travel outside the country without this document, Vanessa and little Chisomo have been forced to stay behind in South Africa while Newton returned to Malawi. He has traveled back and forth a few times in order to be with his family as well as continue pastoring the church plant back in Lilongwe, Malawi. As it stands currently, Newton will be returning to Malawi on Friday and Vanessa will once again stay behind for a minimum of three weeks.  Please pray for the needed documents to come through so that the family can be reunited and back home.  In the meantime we have been enjoying their company:

Muphamuzi Baby Home Reunion: Simon (AKA Sipho) and Chisomo (AKA Aya) See the next photo of when they were both in the baby home waiting for God to place them with their forever families.

Muphamuzi Baby Home Reunion: Simon (AKA Sipho) and Chisomo (AKA Aya) See the next photo of when they were both in the baby home waiting for God to place them with their forever families.

Can you figure out which babies are Simon and Chisomo? They are the two babies in the back row.

Can you figure out which babies are Simon and Chisomo? They are the two babies in the back row.

Also, pray for the church plant that is still very much in its seedling stages. Over the past seven months the church has grown from a handful of committed attenders to  20-30 strong. Within this small church body, as in much of Africa, many would profess to be Christians, but do not seem to have a true understanding of the gospel. Newton’s work is to provide Biblically sound teaching for these young believers  so that “Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith… and that they, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.(Ephesians 3:17-19) Vanessa is reaching out to the seven women that consistently attend to disciple them and grow them in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Other ways they are reaching out to their community are college campus outreaches, Bible studies, door-to-door, and men’s monthly evangelistic breakfast. Newton’s heart is, “for his people to come to correct understanding of the gospel and the implication it has on their everyday lives”.  He says that main obstacle to this is “religion”.  Please pray for the Chilingulos as they seek to further God’s kingdom in Lilongwe, Malawi.DSC_0225

Muphamuzi Baby Home Update This last Friday, the twin girls were placed in their forever family! As much as 1Hope would like to have an input regarding the families our children go to, this is not always the case. And so we pray and trust that God is sovereign over all things.  As the babies were meeting their parents for the first time, Britt, our baby home manager, discovered that the girls were being placed with parents that know and love Christ. She was overjoyed! In her own words, “it was amazing to see how the Lord answers prayers! We pray for these little ones from the day we get them that they will be placed in a forever family with a mommy and daddy who love the Lord and will teach them about Jesus and God answered that prayer today! The parents were so excited to hear how God answered prayers through bringing them to adopt our little girls. It is just amazing what a big God we serve! I can look at a situation and become discouraged- namely that the babies are with an agency and we don’t have a say in where they go- but nothing is too big for God! He sees everything and knows exactly what will happen to each of our babies. What an answer to prayer and what a big God we serve! Praise theLord!!”Twins adoption

Other Happenings in the Life of our Church

Tabea

Our current baby home intern is Tabea from Switzerland.  She is serving with us for three months, loving and caring for the babies and diving into the life of Living Hope Church!

African Brothers!!

African Brothers!!

Teaching Sunday School preschoolers

Teaching Sunday School preschoolers

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Ladies Bible Study

Ladies Bible Study continues as we are going through the book of Galatians.

In Family News, Randy celebrated his birthday last month turning half a century…

The Big 5-0 is the new 4-0

The Big 5-0 is the new 4-0

And finally, it is Rugby World Cup 2015 season and my children (at least Julia and Marissa) have turned against their home country in order to root for a winning team.  Who can blame them when the USA vs RSA score was an embarrassing 0 to 64?  Randy and I, however, tried to remained loyal in support for the underdog.

Rugby World Cup 2015 Springbok supporters

Rugby World Cup 2015 Springbok supporters