Once again, we are in awe at the testimony of God’s redemptive work in the lives of those He has chosen. We would like to share their stories with you so that you might be blessed as well.
Newton was born in Malawi, a country that borders South Africa to its northeast. At the tender age of 13, Newton’s mother died, and he was forced to relocate to Johannesburg with his two brothers so that he might live with his father. Because he was very close to his mother and had a very poor relationship with his step-mother, this move was very difficult for Newton. His alcoholic father did not provide relief for the situation. The pain and sorrow in his life drove him to leave home at age 16 and seek refuge in alcohol. Basically homeless, Newton moved around from friend to friend and in desperation resorted to petty crime to survive.
When Newton drank, his anger would explode into violence, and he recalls the incident that forever changed his life. One evening he recklessly stepped in between a fight that was occurring between his brother and another man.
“The next thing I knew,” he recalls, “I saw myself on the floor in a pool of blood and vomit”. He had been shot three times at close range in the chest. He remembers nothing else except that, miraculously, he awoke one month later in a hospital bed!
When Newton was released from the hospital and able to return to his life, many of his friends, amazed at how his life had been spared, attempted to point him to God and encouraged him to go to church. Initially, Newton’s heart was only hardened and filled with pride. “I survived!” would be his answer.
One Sunday, bribing him with a beer, a persistent roommate invited him to church. Newton finally agreed to go thinking, “I have nothing to lose, but a beer to gain!” After the church service, Newton, for some unexplained reason, told himself, “I am coming back.”
Newton did not understand why, but he felt compelled to return to church week after week. In August of 2004, Newton remembers that he felt a deep conviction over his sin. Truly grasping the gospel for the first time, he put his faith in Christ’s work on the cross!
In spite of his conversion, Newton was still consuming alcohol on a daily basis. In November of 2004, he decided that if he would be able to refrain from drinking in December, he would never need to touch it again. Incredibly, he did and never has! All craving for it – gone!
In 2005 Newton attended a youth camp which emphasized the biblical concept of “disciples making disciples.” It was then that Newton knew that this was the type of work he wanted to invest his life in. In 2007 Newton began attending Christ Seminary where he received a bachelors degree in theology. In 2008, while attending a seminar on expository teaching, he was introduced to Josh Mack and at the beginning of last year Newton officially joined Living Hope Church’s staff as a Pastoral Intern. The last two Sundays, Living Hope Church has had the wonderful privilege of hearing Newton preach with deep passion and conviction.
Vanessa is also from Malawi and came to South Africa at age 11. She grew up attending 7th day Adventist church services, but by age 14 she lost any desire to attend church. She remembers how she would hide or purposely dirty her church clothes to give her an excuse to not attend church.
In her teenage years several events occurred close together that brought her to a crisis point in her life. Her mother suffered a stroke and was unable to see or walk. Her father lost his job and could no longer pay for the home he had purchased or for the new school that she was attending. In her frustration and desperation, she packed her bags one morning and attempted to have herself admitted into an orphanage. Her hope was that in doing so, she would be allowed to complete her schooling. The orphanage director, instead, recommended her to speak to a pastor at a nearby church. While waiting in the parking lot to speak to this pastor, she was feeling very uncomfortable, but resisted the urge the flee. The pastor brought her into his office and shared the gospel with her. The date was February 23, 2005 and as she prayed with the pastor she told us , “ I felt like a heavy burden was lifted off of me and I left the office feeling light.” Graciously, the church paid for her school fees and she finished her last year of school.
Newton and Vanessa have been married for three years and their dream is to return to their home country, Malawi, and plant a solidly biblical church. There are two factors that will determine when they will be able to make this move. The first, most obvious, is support raising, and the second is baby Aya. Baby Aya is the first sweet precious life to come to the Muphamuzi Baby Home. Unwanted by her mother, she was handed over to a social worker who then handed her over to Marda to bring her to the baby home. Video of Aya coming to the Muphamuzi Baby home can be watched here.
Vanessa remembers the morning she received a text message from Marda about Aya. She was so excited to meet this little one, that she hurried home from work that day and rushed over to the Baby Home. As she entered the room where Aya was sleeping, she peered down at the precious bundled and immediately felt love for her. Vanessa promptly texted Marda, “I love this baby.” Vanessa sums up the gracious redeeming work of our Heavenly Father who is the Father to the fatherless, “Abandoned and unloved in the morning, cherished and wanted by the evening!!” Aya has permanently been placed in Newton and Vanessa’s loving care since July of this year and their goal and desire is to legally adopt her.
It is always such a joy to fellowship with this beloved family! Please pray for Newton and Vanessa:
- For God’s timing to move back to Malawi and begin their church plant.
- Support raising
- The legal situation with Aya that would enable them to take her out of South Africa.