Friday, October 5, 2018

Some closing thoughts...

Joy Waller
FSBC Scottsdale
→1st time serving with Hope Baptist Church in South Africa; forever connected through love and family

Some closing thoughts about our time in SA...

I was happy to be back in the familiar culture of warmth and openness this past week in SA.  What a great
Steve and Joy Waller with children from the eyeglass
clinic in Soshanguve.
week we had! Your prayers covered us in physical safety, encouraged us through fatigue, and provided words when we needed to share God's hope.  The beauty of stepping out of your comfort zone is being able to gain new perspective and learn some new things about yourself as well.  I am privileged to have the opportunity to travel many places. I always enjoy seeing the wonderful diversity of the body of Christ, and it reminds me to actively remember to reach out to those who aren't like me. 

I will share some closing prayer requests for you:
  • Pray for the many seeds planted through the eye glass clinics, and for the SA team as they follow up with each of them.
  • Pray that God strengthens the leaders at Hope Baptist Church: giving them endurance for the work, building character and leadership skills. Pray that they take the many learnings from the conference and are able to put them into practice.
  • Pray for Julius and Cintia: that their marriage continues to thrive, they have wisdom in their work, and energy for busier church life than we can even imagine.
l-r: Joy and Steve Waller,
     Julius and Cintia Mbu
  • Pray for Julius: wisdom as he shepherds many people, plants new churches, builds education and leadership programs, and casts an ambitious vision for Hope.
  • It is said that because of the many people who immigrate to Pretoria that all of Africa can be reached.  Pray that the church in Sunnyside continues to draw an international congregation that can in turn reach many countries.
  • Pray for the members of the 2018 team as God revealed Himself in new ways through this trip. May they also all be emboldened and re-energized in their walk with God.
And to our many readers: If you ever have an opportunity to go to the continent of Africa - go.  It will forever change you.

l-r: Edith Lyle, Mitch McDonald, Mona McDonald, Kathy Matney, Keith
     Matney, Wanda Bagwell, Bill Bagwell, Tracy Newcomb, Joy Waller, Steve
     Waller, Beth Shook, Steve Shook

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Saying Goodbye

Tracy Newcomb
Foothills Southern Baptist Church, Yuma
→ 2nd time serving in South Africa

It’s hard to believe that our time in South Africa is coming to an end. It’s been a great week and we have been able to witness God do some awesome things!

We started today packing up and getting ready to leave our home away from home. The staff at The Wardrobe Guest House has taken good care of us this week. Then we headed back to Hope Baptist Church for one final ministry event.
Edith Lyle sharing the gospel with a
young man attending the eyeglass
We were blessed to work with the Pastor Julius and the team at Hope for an eyeglass clinic in Sunnyside. 
We saw about 60-75 people during the clinic this morning. At least five people accepted Christ during the clinic and many more will be contacted by the church for follow up.

We said goodbye to those at the church and headed to get some lunch before heading to the government buildings. As we looked out over Pretoria we were able to spend some final moments in prayer together as a team. We prayed for the Pastor Julius & Cintia, Hope Baptist Church, Sunnyside, Pretoria, and for God’s work in South Africa as a whole. 
Mona McDonald celebrates with a 
young man who accepted Christ at 
the eyeglass clinic

Now we are once again beginning our lengthy journey via planes, trains, and automobiles as we head back home to Arizona.

Although this blog post is titled “Saying Goodbye,” in reality we know that we are actually just saying “see you later” to so many of these great people. We have confidence we will see our brothers and sisters again, either in another trip to South Africa or ultimately one day in heaven. We are so thankful for these relationships that God has given us in His body!


Good morning Washington DC!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Safari Day

Kathy Matney
FSBC Scottsdale
→ 1st time serving in South Africa with Hope Baptist Church

Today was Safari day at Pilanesberg National Park. God favored us with the most amazing display of His creativity. We saw at least 13 different species of animals- a herd of elephants, a family of hippos, a crash of rhinos, a pride of lions, a zeal of zebras, a tower of giraffes, a herd of wildebeests, a troop of baboons and several more. What made this even more amazing was our ability to see them up close and traveling in large numbers. It was a breathtaking site!  

After the safari, we had lunch at a market, took a little time to shop for souvenirs, and traveled back to our B&B to get ready for our evening session. Joy did a fabulous job of leading the Hope Baptist leadership team and us in identifying our personality types for the purpose of effective communication in ministry.

We are excited for tomorrow, the last eyeglass distribution. Please pray for us as we share the love of Jesus with the people of Pretoria.  

A Special Day

Steve Shook
Foothills Baptist Church, Ahwatukee
→ 3rd time serving in South Africa

A moment of prayer before Steve Waller gives the message at Hope Baptist
Church, Soshanguve.

Today was a special day of worship and prayer not only at Hope Baptist Church, Sunnyside, but also her two church plants in Soshanguve, South Africa: Hope Baptist Church of Soshanguve and Faith Baptist Church.  The team served in the three locations somewhat simultaneously in order to assist and lead out in the morning activities. While Keith Matney preached at Hope Church, Sunnyside, Steve Waller and Mitch McDonald preached at the churches in Soshanguve. God’s message of hope and love was shared through these three men of God, resulting in several new additions to the body of Christ.  Praise God!

l-r: Keith Matney preaching at Hope Baptist Church, Sunnyside. Steve Waller 
sharing at Hope Baptist Church, Soshenguve. Mitch McDonald gives the 
message at Faith Baptist Church, Soshenguve.
One of the more anticipated outreach events connected with this South Africa partnership is the eye glass clinic. The clinic provides much needed glasses to members of the community around the church, at no cost.  Today we held the clinic in the community around Faith Baptist Church in Soshanguve. This event gives us the chance to touch the lives of those who participate by providing prayer support and the opportunity to present the gospel while they register and wait to receive their glasses.  The setting for this clinic was quite unique - inside the tent that was used for the worship service earlier that morning. The closest I’ve ever been to a tent revival!

After a quick lunch, we returned to a significant crowd lined up to receive their glasses. In addition to those making professions of faith in the worship services, there were many that professed a new life in Christ today as a result of the clinic. God is Amazing!

I think I’ll leave you with a few more pictures to tell the story I really want to share. What a great day of worship!!

Steve Shook

Saturday, September 29, 2018

God Changes Lives

Bill Bagwell
FSBC Scottsdale
 2nd time serving with Hope Baptist Church

Conference youth volunteers with
the kitchen crew and Go Girl.
Today was Day 2 of The Christian Community Development Conference at Hope Baptist Church in Sunnyside. After having a good night’s sleep, we met for breakfast and were led in devotion by Joy Waller. Joy challenged us to consider that we grow in the Lord when working outside our comfort zone. We then discussed some of the reasons we might feel challenged, such as better listening to clearly understand the various dialects of those we share. All 12 of us left for the church with great anticipation that God would do great work today and He did not let us down. Hallelujah!

Bill Bagwell teaching on Finances.
Steve Shook teaching on Healthy Churches
The conference began around 9:30 today with about 45 minutes of wonderful praise and worship. There were three morning plenary sessions around the topic of God Healing our Communities. Bill Bagwell shared a session on God Healing our Finances. The highlight was that God owns everything and we are simply stewards. Bill discussed financial planning topics and ended with the importance of tithing and the church’s responsibility to utilize tithes and offering well. This was followed by a talk by Thokozile Zulu Elizabeth regarding God Healing Women. She focused on abuse that is occurring in South Africa among married women, where men are very dominating. She shared about some of the African Ancestral Worship that remains prevalent is parts of South Africa and the family estrangement that can occur when family members accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Steve Shook followed Thoko’s session by sharing God Healing Churches. Steve listed good characteristics of healthy churches and alternatively common habits leading to unhealthy churches. Steve then listed excellent suggestions for churches to return to a healthy status. The three plenary sessions were well received by approximately 80 people, including pastors and lay people from South Africa, Nigeria, Congo, Zimbabwe, Malawi and others. After a delightful African lunch buffet, we repeated our afternoon Workshops. A final Worship Service topped off the conference and then Pastor Julius passed out certificates of completion to all the participants. We heard many outstanding testimonies during the day regarding how God was changing the lives of people in Africa. And we are greatly impacted through seeing God act in the lives of these small churches with less financial resources than we have in America.

We just finished a late dinner and returned to our hotel at 9:00 pm. Tomorrow starts early again, but we are again excited as we prepare for a Sunday of worship. Pray for Keith Matney, Mitch McDonald and Steve Waller as each will be preaching at different venues tomorrow. Then in the afternoon we will have our first Eyeglass and Sunglass clinic in Soshanguve community. Pray for our continued good health, safety while driving on the left side of road and divine appointments with those needing Christ.

Bill Bagwell

Friday, September 28, 2018

Greetings from South Africa!

Steve Waller
FSBC Scottsdale
⇢1st time serving with Hope Baptist Church

Our first full day here at Hope Baptist has been a whirlwind of activity!  Most of us were so tired that we slept through a powerful thunderstorm last night.  Can you say jet lag!!  We started the day with fellowship, prayer and a spectacular devotion from our amazing Edith....she had a beautiful reminder for us to keep our focus on Jesus!  Sarah, our hostess at the bed and breakfast made a breakfast fit for kings and queens to get us fueled up and ready to share our message of growth and hope!  We arrived at the church and were so pleased to find there were many many people ready to learn and grow as leaders in the Christian Community.  

Worship like I have never experienced led off the day....such uninhibited joy and praise in song and dance!!  Pastor Julius led introductions of some of the team prior to well received plenaries from the head of PEN on campus at Hope, Dr. Marinda Van Niekerk, followed by Mitch McDonald and then Mona McDonald.  After lunch the team all broke up to teach our assigned workshops which were broken up around the campus.  Each of the workshops was well attended with great participation and many questions.  Many of the team members were able to minister to one or more of the attendees from their session with individual questions, and to delve a bit deeper into the subject matter.  After some more time in worship, many attendees participated in a graduation ceremony from a pastoral training program that Pastor Julius is championing here - we even saw a marriage proposal (she said YES).

One of the graduates of this program, is a man from Nigeria who was first introduced to Christ through an eye glass clinic with last years mission team!
The 2018 South Africa team with first year certificate graduate
and believer that came to Christ through the eye-glass clinic.
We ended our day with dinner at a local restaurant as a team.  Now it is late, it has been a long day, and we are weary....but we are excited and encouraged!  We have been received like family, the children and the jubilant worship have captured our hearts.  Miss Edith and Mona even took an opportunity to show off their dance moves (yes there is video).  God is moving and shaping lives here, the church is vibrant and striving to seek the lost for Jesus!  Julius and Cintia and the church are a beautiful picture of loving on this community as Christ commanded.  We are proud and humbled to play even a small part of helping advance God's kingdom here.  Tomorrow starts early, so it is time to slow down and thank God for what He has done today, and all He has planned for the rest of our trip.  Goodnight from South Africa! 
Steve Waller

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Today we arrived in Pretoria. Feels like we’ve been on our way for days. The reality is, it’s only been a little more than 20 hours of travel time since leaving Phoenix. So, yeah...feels like days.

South Africa is emerging from a fairly chilly winter according to Pastor Julius. The weather was gorgeous today, the Jacaranda trees are beginning to bloom. Such a beautiful violet throughout the hard gray of the city.

We spent time at the church organizing conference materials and sorting several suitcases of reading glasses and sunglasses. It seems like more than we’ll ever distribute. But two clinics will make short work of getting them into the hands of those needing them. Better yet, two clinics will allow twice the opportunity to share Christ.
Before getting a bit of dinner, we took advantage of what was left of the early evening light and hit the street to pass out flyers; inviting people to come to the conference and the clinic at Hope Baptist Church that follows on Sunday. The streets are crowded; insisting our approach move from simply passing out information to creating opportunities for conversation. Gospel conversations.

It was a good day. So glad to finally get here. I need a nap.