Awed and Amazed!

As we live this life here so far from where we have known as home, we are more and more awed and amazed by God’s goodness and grace.  Here are highlights of our life this past month.

Holiday Bible Club  At the end of September, the school children in Pretoria were given a week off (Spring Break!).   Lynwood Baptist Church seized this opportunity to bring some of these children in for a Holiday Bible Club and asked Living Hope to partner with them.   The Wordless Book, which uses different colors to represent the amazing truths of the gospel, was presented. The Macks and the Clarks helped with the registration and different stations, served as group leaders and brought in children from our AWANA program.  It was a joy to witness God’s word go forth into the hearts and minds of these children.  We trust that seeds were planted and He will water and cause the growth!!VBS

Bringing Home Babies What a fun blessing for 1Hope families to have the electricity at the Baby Home go out for a weekend!  We had the privilege of bringing home two babies.  A toddler boy of 20 months and a very sweet one year old baby girl!  Our home was so busy!! But so fun!!  My girls were disappointed when they heard that power was restored and that the babies would go back after church on Sunday.

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Gospel Transformation!  It is always awe inspiring to witness God’s Word go forth in a life to redeem and transform.   Linda was born in Masvingo, Zimbabwe as Georgina Linda Molebaleng in 1969.  In 2000, her husband tragically was killed in a car accident while working as a driver for the National Army.  With no other immediate family to support her, she was left with her four children to raise and care for alone.

As a widow in Zimbabwe, Linda struggled for eight years to scratch out a living selling small crops such as maize, nuts and vegetables.  This became increasingly difficult as   crops to sell became scarce.  Finally, in desperation she left Zim and made her way to a refugee community in Pretoria, South Africa called Salvakop.  Looking for a means to support her children back home, she started by selling fruit in the streets and then decided to start her own day care business.  Her business slowly grew and at one time she was caring for eight children in front of her very modest home (a very tiny tin shack).  She earned R100/ week per child (which is the equivalent to about $10 at today’s rate).  However, in the last year, her business slowed to only 2 children a week and life was extremely difficult.

About the same time, fall of 2012, her cousin Claudios invited Linda to attend the new Bible Study/connect group that Randy began in Salvakop. (Watch a video about this ministry at the end of this post) She accepted the invitation and also began attending Living Hope on Sundays. As a child in Zim, Linda grew up attending church and knew very well that hope can be found in God.  Through the connect group and church attendance, Linda heard the gospel clearly and was especially moved by God’s grace as found in Ephesians 2:8,

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”.

  In spring of 2013, she began attending membership classes for Living Hope and on May 5, 2013, she publicly professed her faith in Christ and was baptized!!

From the beginning of her attendance in Bible Study, her prayer request has been for more children for her day care business.  But God chose to answer her prayers in a different way.  In June of 2013, 1Hope asked her to begin working at the Muphamuzi Baby Home as a volunteer, twice weekly. And then, by God’s grace to both Linda and 1Hope, in July of 2013, Linda was offered a contract to work full-time as the night time caregiver!  She serves the Baby Home so faithfully and always full of joy!  Every Monday, she has money to send home to her children back in Zimbabwe for school fees and groceries!1391894_915028464147_632575405_n

Linda’s story is a beautiful picture of God’s grace and mercy on a life – a picture of Christ working through the church to love and care for His children.  Praise God!

With Linda at the Baby Home.

With Linda at the Baby Home.

Pastor James  Last Wednesday our family was part of a small team that drove out to the township of Standerton two hours outside Pretoria to visit one of our Mercy Network pastors, James.  We told a portion of James’ story here when his church was still meeting in a tent which, since then, has been badly damaged by wind and weather.  His church now meets in this colorful tin shack which is also the site for the non-profit organization initiated by James called God’s Promise in Action.DSC_0150

James began caring for orphans in his community in 2003.  At that time he would bring the children into his home and feed them from donations given by local bakeries.  This ministry has grown and he has partnered with two other pastors to form the non-profit.  Currently, there are 97 children in the program who have lost their parents.  The goal is to provide food, counseling, prayer and discipleship for these kids who, tragically, are often victims of abuse by the adults they live with.

James has four children ages 9, 7, 4, and 1.  His wife works part-time cleaning a guest house and James is unemployed, but seeking a job as a boiler-maker. The challenge for James is that he struggles to care for his own family and has very few resources to offer the children he desires to minister to.  As a result, the organization is only able to provide 1-2 meals a month, when the desire is to supply several meals during the week and especially in the morning so that the children would not be forced to attend school on an empty stomach.  “Life is not just hard, it is very hard,” he said to me, “very hard”.  In spite of these difficulties, James works diligently to faithfully deliver the Word of Truth every Sunday.  He does not own a laptop and spends several hours a week writing out his sermons by hand. It was a joy to be with James, and 1Hope continues to seek ways in which we can offer support, resources and encouragement to this pastor who is striving to be the light of Christ in a dark generation.

Pastor James with his two younger children.

Pastor James with his two younger children – happy to receive a bag balls for the neighborhood!

Naugle Family Update  For those of you who have been praying for this family in crisis here is a quick update:  Older son, Parker, boarded a flight for Dulles, WA, yesterday and should now be back in his home state.  Cooper’s condition is still serious, but he has shown very small signs of improvement daily.  The hope is that by sometime next week he will be well enough to be taken out of his medically-induced coma.  Please continue to pray.

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