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).
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:
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.”
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…
Most 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.
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.”
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.”
Mission Malawi Reformation 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.
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.
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!
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:
As 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.
LAUNCHING – 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?
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:
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.
Also, 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”