As the first frigid cold front from the south hit Pretoria, the temperature plunged from a balmy, pleasant 80oF/60oF to a chilly mid 50’s in the day and freezing temperatures at night. With brick homes without insulation or central heating, during the day it is warmer outside than in and at night it is shivering cold no matter where you go! We have learned to cope as native South Africans do: by bundling up and wearing what we, at one time, called winter outdoor clothing (coats, boots, scarves) indoors.
Discipleship Opportunities: Living Hope Church takes seriously Christ’s final charge to his followers when he commanded, “Go and make disciples” and as result we are a church of disciples making disciples. It is the goal that every faithful attender be involved in a weekly “Gospel Community” (small group) as well as individual discipleship relationships where we learn and help others to grow in faith by following Christ in all aspects of daily life. To that end, one major focus this year has been the launch of an official Ladies Ministry.
Our larger whole church Ladies Bible Study of about 20-25 ladies meets every other week in our home and these past few months Marda Mack has been teaching us how to study God’s Word and the importance of allowing this Word to have a true impact in our lives. That we would not walk away from it as merely hearers, but doers. During the other weeks, I have had the joy and privilege of leading a smaller group of ladies that live and/or work at the Muphamuzi Baby Home. My love and affection for these ladies has grown so much these months as I witnessed these sweet sisters’ deep love for Christ and the gospel and desire to make much of Him in their lives. Many of them struggle deeply with difficult issues and are often tempted to take matters into their own hands, but by God’s grace, they stand strong in their faith, learning to depend on the provision of their heavenly Father.
One such young lady is Debra who is the daughter of MBH caregiver Linda whose story I have written about here. Debra has come to South Africa from Zimbabwe to join her mother last fall. She is a quiet deep thinker with a wonderful smile that lights up her whole face when I can get her to flash one. She works very part time at the baby home and in our home once a week. She desperately desires to go to school in order to gain skills that would afford her the opportunity to work and help provide for her family. Of course, money is very limited and the income she and her mother bring in does not allow her to pursue her dream.
On her days with our family, Debra and I sit down at lunchtime and are reading through the Gospel of Mark. Debra always expresses a deep desire to reflect her Savior to the world and to grow in her dependence on Him. Recently, Debra shared with me that her older step-brothers set out to help her in her job search. In their opinion, their efforts were successful as Debra was offered a job as a waitress in a restaurant. The only difficulty was that this position required serving alcohol in a bar and having to work on Sundays. She was so conflicted and her brothers urged her to take the position, that she had “no choice, she must take the job”. But after much consideration, Debra firmly believed that as a follower of Christ, this position would not reflect her Savior, and although she was very tempted when the employer phoned her a few times, she refused the job. Contrary to her brother’s words, she did have a choice and she chose to trust in God’s provision rather than compromise her convictions. Please pray for Debra. The church she attended previously in Zimbabwe did not handle God’s Word accurately and she is eagerly studying the Bible with a new deeper understanding of the true gospel.
The Muphamuzi Baby Home celebrated its third year since its opening which equates to 34, 380 nappy (diaper) changes!
GCO Interns – For four days in June, the MBH had the privilege of hosting three interns from our very own Grace Church of Orange. So fun to have these young ladies here sharing in the life and activity of our church as well as helping with the care of the babies at the baby home.
African Bible Training Center– The classes for this two year course surveying the entire Bible has approximately 50 students attending every other Thursday, eager to understand more deeply God’s Word. This course is so necessary as false religious teachers abound in Africa with many self proclaimed “Apostles” using their influence and slight of hand “miracles” to prey on desperate followers yearning for a more comfortable life. Half of our class last Thursday was in the dark, but not because passages we were studying were particularly confusing, but because we were literally in the dark. Halfway through the class that evening the power went out. The demand for electricity in South Africa far outweighs its supply and this country is currently experiencing a power crisis. As of November of last year, in an effort to reduce demand, Eskom, the country’s electricity supplier, has scheduled daily rolling blackouts throughout the country known as “load shedding”. That evening the anticipated blackout occurred right on time. We, however, were prepared and the class, was only briefly interrupted as we took a few minutes to turn on flashlights and bring out cell phones. The class continued and that evening we reviewed that Leviticus sets us up for the gospel by showing us God’s demand for holiness and Christ’s fulfillment of this demand by being the ultimate, “it is finished” sacrifice. We also learned that through the book of Numbers and all the censuses that were taken, God shows us that He is able to fulfill the promise he made to a childless Abraham who, gazing at the stars against a dark sky, believed God when He said these points of lights would represent the number of his future descendants.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12