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building a community to reach a community

South Africa: Day 3

Fair warning - the rest of the posts this week may be short and sporadic, and may not post daily. I am now needing to update on my phone because that is the only place I have access to the internet, as our hotel doesn't have Wi-Fi. I'll still try to include pictures, but it may not be possible.

This morning we first headed out to Hope of Glory to meet the staff and spend a little more time learning about the ministry. They've recently had to move their operation to a new section of the large property, and it's not in as good of condition as the original HOG site. They have one building, several crumbling but potential buildings, and a garden in disrepair where they eventually hope to grow the food they'll feed to the kids. One side has a great fence with barbed wire, but the other side has a crumbling concrete wall. The wall is in such poor condition that they've had their water storage container stolen and now rely on a shallow well for all their water. Resources to repair the wall and begin cleaning up the new site are both huge prayer requests.

We then visited the old site, which is still in use for other reasons. Here we picked up a few key volunteers and headed out for two home visits. First we stopped by three local schools to secure permission to come and speak to the students tomorrow.

The home visits were such an encouragement to the entire team. We visited two families of children who attend HOG. Monica guided these discussions and encouraged us to share the gospel. We discovered one woman (Virginia) is a Christian but her husband isn't. We prayed for her family and encouraged her to stay rooted in God's word, the fellowship of believers, and prayer.

At our second visit we met Joseph, an uncle of two boys at HOG. Though he was very timid and reluctant to look up while we spoke to him, he perked up at the mention of Jesus and said he didn't know Him personally but had heard others talk about Him. There was a curiosity and interest in his expression that withdrew back into meekness. Through our conversation, we shared the gospel with Joseph and learned through Monica that he wanted to accept Christ, right then and there! Eileen prayed with him, and it was evident God had worked in his heart through the joy and enthusiasm he exhibited after we prayed, smiling and hugging us. Both Larry and Monica spent a few minutes encouraging him, and we were off - just like that! Monica said she will follow up with him and get him connected to a local church.

For many of us, this was our first experience of this type of evangelism, and it was both exciting and a little confusing. Some struggled with the question of whether his quick conversion was sincere or what impact we could really make in his life after such a short visit. But the reality is - God is sovereign, He can and does work through "turning point" conversations such as these, and there is a healthy and vibrant local church in his community that will disciple him. The experience was paradigm-shaping for us. Monica makes this such a priority, and she lives and speaks with such boldness and biblical authority and refreshing bluntness that following her lead felt natural. Many of us were challenged by this humble, soft-spoken local pastor's wife. If she can do it here in the midst of such spiritual warfare, can we not do it in our community? Why not? What hinders us? We were confronted by our own lack of urgency and an apathy often manifested in excuses.

Following these home visits, we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked African meal at HOG, where we all tried "pap and relish," a thick pasty porridge made of maize with a tomato-based sauce on top. In the afternoon we went shopping for snacks for the kids, so they can visit us tomorrow (we were mistaken about visiting with them today). It was fun winding our way through a local grocery store, exploring the African coffee, chocolate, snacks, and sweets.

And last but certainly not least, we visited Violet in her home, where she has been bedridden with a bone cancer diagnosis for several weeks. Violet is one of the founders of HOG, and she is a sweet, joyful, precious sister in Christ who is suffering terribly right now and longs to be back at God's work. We were able to give her a walker we purchased for her before we left America, and she was thrilled to tears. We prayed for healing for her at the end of our visit. Later that evening Larry described that in addition to her loving disposition, she is also extremely bold and courageous in her faith, resisting the pervasive spiritual darkness in her community by preaching the truth shamelessly and constantly at risk of ridicule and scorn. To have that boldness...! It was such a joy to meet her, a warrior and giant in the faith now engaged in a different battle - please pray with us for her healing.

Yet another long day! Tomorrow we will speak in the schools, participate in more home visits, and hang out with the kids at the ministry.

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