Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 7 - Glasses Campaign Comes To A Close

Keith and Antoine get tables and chairs set in place for our
final day of glasses distribution
"Thank you" are two simple words that hold so many meanings for us today. We heard this phrase over and over as we led people to Christ and prayed with people in need of jobs and family situations. Thank you was said from the volunteers as we closed up the "glasses campaign" for the week. And our hearts burst with thanks back to them for allowing us the opportunity to participate. We say thank you to God for calling us to come and for using us! What a week it has been with over 1,000 people exposed to the Gospel - a seed planted, watered, harvested or grown - all happening from these last five days. We also were able to say "Thank you" for the two meals provided to us by the church members today. What fun we had sitting with the people we have worked alongside all week deepening relationships and encouraging one another. Thank you also to those of you in America who gave the almost 2,000 pairs of glasses we brought over! Thank you also for praying and helping make this trip so effective!

Kevin with the young man who called himself "Blessings" - he
lost both his father and mother and lives on the streets of Pretoria,
yet he promised he would come to church this Sunday
One thing that has been evident as we share the Gospel is that so many people say they do not know if they are going to heaven but once we have led them through the verses, they realize they have actually made this decision and DO know for sure. Some may just be saying yes to say yes but others it appears have made the decision in the past but have not been trained or taught. "Thank you" Hope Baptist Church for being a light to the community of Sunnyside in the way of training/discipleship of the believers in what and why we believe what we believe.

If you have noticed while you have read the past blogs we are a team, and many of the volunteers have HOPE shirts with the "O" being the continent of Africa. These have been quite the conversation starters. As Mel Anderson says, when people ask about them it's easy to share the Gospel.

Mitch McDonald experienced a different kind of ministry today as he had to take a trip to the dentist for a cracked tooth. God put him there to share with literally all of the office staff and everyone in the waiting room. Who knows why God orchestrates this type of "bad luck" during a trip like this, but even so, we can say "Thank you" for the plan at work that we do not see.

Here are a few more pictures from today (click once on each to enlarge):

There are a lot of smiles in Africa!

Our friend Busi from Zimbabwe who we have adopted into our
team always seems to attract children

Some local hairdressers offered to help
Katie with her braids

Assistant Pastor Daniel is in charge of the BBQ grill
for our Friday celebration dinner

Cintia, Christine & Funke are ready to serve the celebration
dinner meal

The volunteers and our FSBCS team gathers for the
celebration dinner at Hope Baptist

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 6 - The Harvest Is Plenty

Our Thursday started on an incredible note, as we arrived on campus at Hope Baptist to continue another
Mona shares with Robin
day of sharing the Gospel with those that would come to receive free glasses and sunglasses.  Our friend Rigobert (whom you met yesterday in our Day 5 post) was already there and he had brought a young lady whose eyes were filled with tears.  He waved to Kevin and invited him to come and meet "Robin."  Kevin learned that Rigobert had just met Robin that very morning as they waited at a bus stop and ended up sharing a taxi ride into town -- where he felt led to talk to her about Jesus.  Kevin then waved Mona into the picture and she shared the gospel with Robin who was so very willing and ready to accept the Lord into her life and she did just that with several of the team surrounding her.  The prayer that she prayed on her own and the words that came from her mouth were truly inspired and she seemed to fully understand the change that was taking place in her life at that moment.  She was the happiest
Robin happily shows off her new Bible and her new birthday!
young lady that you can imagine and Mona gave her one of the "Fisherman's Bible" New Testaments that we have been using to share the Gospel.  Mona suggested she write her name and her "born again" birthday (today!) on the front page of the Bible so she will always remember.  Robin said she will be at Hope Baptist on Sunday, so pray with us that she follows through on that so she can continue to be surrounded by believers as she is such a new Christian.

And that, our friends, is just ONE story from today that occurred even before we opened the front gate to the church!  Once the gate was opened, people continued to stream through that gate and were at times lined up 10 or 12 deep as they came for the free glasses and the chance to find out what excitement was happening at the church at the end of the street!

The line (or "queue" as they say here in South Africa)
to speak to a volunteer was often quite long.
A lady named Judith sat with Katie. She said she prayed a lot and that is how she would get to heaven. After being led through verses on salvation she realized she had never made that decision. She prayed and then Katie prayed. She opened her eyes in amazement and said, "When you pray for me I see light." She had not experienced this before. Katie encouraged her that that was God telling her she had made the right decision.  Speaking of decisions, there were SEVERAL other decisions for Christ made today as God continues to bless this little church in a mighty way!

We've also had many people either looking for or not having a church. Maybe they have found their family coming to Hope Baptist! Pastor Julius is expecting a BIG Sunday. We figured the church building could possible hold about 400-500 but it seems like a good motto for Africa would be "There's always room for one more!" We wait in anticipation to see how many God brings.

Another possible exciting contact made today was Mitch & Mona McDonald, Keith Matney and Pastor Julius, who met with a reach out organization in Pretoria that has a medical facility. They are interested in maybe beginning a pregnancy center outreach to Pretoria much like what Arizona Baptist Children Services runs in the Arizona pregnancy centers. Of course Mona is the best contact for them! 
So tomorrow will be our final day of distributing glasses and evengelizing in that way, and we so look forward to Sunday morning -- but let's not get ahead of ourselves and see what the Lord has in store for Friday and Saturday!
Here are more pictures from today (click once to enlarge each image):
Antoine, Mel, Mitch and Mona are
ready to start the day.
Although many are coming to seek the Lord at Hope Baptist,
we are reminded of poverty and homelessness that is ever
present, just a few steps from the church's front entrance.
Mimi from Hope Baptist and Keith from First
Southern Scottsdale -- working together

to further His kingdom!

Delilla from the country of Burundi -- and a member of
Hope Baptist -- displays her authentic West African
clothing, while her daugther Andrea squeezes in.
Four friends arrive after school and Busi takes them all on
at once!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 5 - More Outreach and Trash Pickup Event

Above, Samuel waves from the open gate and the people start coming for free
glasses and a chance to talk to the volunteers.  Terrence (lower left) has
been running the audio and playing music through the sound system
to attract the crowds, and Funke (lower right in red shirt, pronounced
FWEN-kay), an HBC member and volunteer speaks to one of the visitors.
Another day down. It's been a good day, profitable in sharing the Gospel. We have had a number of salvation decisions, even as the rain came down for a bit this morning and squeezed us ever closer under the blue and white tent -- but people came anyway. When we tell the people that the glasses are free or "mahala," some cannot believe it -- nothing is free. But yes! We are privileged to also tell them of the ultimate gift of eternal life that is truly free! 

After a morning of distributing many more glasses, we changed it up in the afternoon as we participated in a "clean up campaign" walking down the main street of Sunnyside in our green or red t-shirts that say HOPE and picked up trash in the midst of all the bustle of the city.  Pastor Julius was very excited for us to do this as he says it is very rare for anyone in Pretoria to volunteer to clean up for no pay. We got many side-ways glances and questions as to what we were doing, but we were proud to be able to point them to the church at the end of the street.  Kevin had spoken with one gentleman earlier in the day and when this man saw us picking up trash in the afternoon, he yelled in a lighhearted tone to Kevin, "American man!  What are you doing??"

Interested people from all walks of Pretoria come and fill every chair
under the tent.
The Hope Baptist Church volunteers that have joined us everyday are becoming so dear to our hearts. We would love to pack many in our suitcases when we come home. We have shared in laughter and tears. Much of the laughter comes from a young man named Rigobert, who grew up in the African country of Cameroon, but now lives in Pretoria. He has a great smile, very friendly and a man on fire for the Gospel -- not ashamed! Pastor Julius has told him that he is the "first on his list" for his 5 church planters he is seeking in 2014.

Tears of prayer came to us in the news yesterday afternoon about Musa, a son of a very dedicated couple from HBC, Paballo & Pinkie. He ate something at school which caused him to vomit immediately and pass out into a coma. The doctors at the hospital were not giving the parents a favorable report. Pastor Julius was afraid the boy would be fatal. Throughout the afternoon and evening we prayed as our group went out. What a miracle to hear today that the boy had regained consciousness and had even, beyond our belief, been sent home with his Grandma!

Here's the FSBCS team out for a bite of lunch, along with our African
friends Emmanuel and Busi who are helping immeasurably
Our new friend Busi (Katie's friend from Zimbabwe) has been an inspiration to all of us as we begin to fall in love with this gracious and humble spirit. She has no hesitation in sharing the Gospel along side us, breaking out in prayer (and song!) and is constantly giving God the credit for the miracles He does in our lives. This evening she gave a short singing concert to some on the team in two of the languages of Zimbabwe. The last song she shared told of the truth that man's love is measured, but God's love is endless.  We look forward to seeing more examples of His endless love as we continue to serve tomorrow.

Here are more pictures from today (click once to enlarge):

Two more visitors are happy to recieve new sunglasses!
As the rain fell for a time this morning, we squeezed tightly under
the tent, but the event continued -- later the sunshine would return
for our trash pickup event in the afternoon

The AZ team and the HBC volunteers join forces to
"Keep Pretoria Clean and Green"

Two of the adorable children of the hard-working volunteers and
members of Hope Baptist -- you can say "Awwwww..."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 4 - Outreach Continues in Pretoria!

The highlights from today include over 600. 600 what, you ask? As many as 600 people who have heard the Gospel one-on-one in the Sunnyside community of Pretoria from yesterday until today! The number will only rise with each post you read throughout the week.

This new banner, designed and donated by an FSBC Scottsdale church
member is displayed on the main street outside the church gates.
Let us paint the picture for you. The church building (which is being rented from the Dutch Reformed, who still continue to use the church on early Sunday mornings and for youth programs during the week) is a landmark of the community. For years and years it has only been known as a "white" church, while the surrounding neighborhood of Sunnyside has become predominantly black. Since Hope Baptist Church began 2 years ago to outreach to the community, the activity has been growing, but most have not known that a church with a black pastor has been meeting there -- so the need to raise awareness is great. Pastor Julius said that in the past 7+ years he has been a part of the community there has never been a church to hold an event like Hope Baptist Church is holding this week. It is rather unheard of for churches to reach out to the community seeking to meet their needs. Through the leadership of Julius and Cintia, this barrier is being breached.
Katie Miller prays with two visitors to the event
Excitement is growing not only in the community, but also within the church members of Hope Baptist who are hungry to minister to their community. There is a gate around the whole of the church property. This week, we have a blue & white striped tent set up on the front lawn with music playing and Pastor Julius announcing on the microphone “free glasses and sunglasses” which is heard in the city streets. People come in through the front gate and are directed to one of the 18 or so volunteers (which include our team) ready to visit with them for a few minutes before they can pick a pair of glasses which were of course provided through the generosity of the congregation of First Southern Scottsdale. Each of the volunteers record their contact information (which, unlike in the US, they are usually willing to provide freely) and then ask them a couple of spiritual questions. The key turning point question that we ask each person is if they died today, do they believe they would they go to heaven?  The responses are often surprising, and range from outright laughter or a sad shaking of the head to a tentative “maybe” or sometimes a resounding YES!  From there, many of us are

Most times there were several conversations
and prayers taking place at one table!
using a Bible with the 5 verses of the "Romans' Road" marked and easy to find. However, this is also a relationship-building opportunity. We could share with you many stories of people making decisions for Christ; others who are looking for stronger faith; others who pray for a life change because they know the path they are going down is destroying them. The list goes on. Walls are clearly being broken down just as we have been praying, and the work ahead for Hope Baptist Church will be monumental in the weeks and months to come as they followup with these hundreds of new contacts and people needing spiritual, physical and emotional healing. 

Praise for the way the community is being reached in practical ways. You should see the faces of some of these who physically cannot see very well and the way their eyes are open with amazement when they put on a pair of glasses that open up the world anew! Or think of the excitement of a small child who receives his first pair of sunglasses. 

Sunnyside, Pretoria, will have a whole new "look" thanks to
this event with many new glasses to be seen around town!
Today, we also praise God for the safe arrival of Katie's friend Busi who has joined our team from Zimbabwe for the remainder of our stay. Pray for the coming days as we continue to share. Pray for the jet lag that is still nagging at some of the team. Pray also for the safe arrival of Mitch McDonald as he joins us tomorrow evening. 

It has been an exhausting few days, yet we have many days of ministry yet to come!  The emotional expenditures of sharing is sending us to bed with hearts praising the One who deserves all praise!
Here are more pictures from Tuesday (click once on each picture to enlarge):

Mel Anderson speaks to a visitor to the HBC glasses event.
Even the many children were able to receive first-time glasses!

Kevin Horton prays with Rachael who lives in Sunnyside near
the church and asked for prayer for her new baby that is due soon,
along with her husband and daughter at home.
Hope Baptist member and volunteer Rigobert (left) shares the
Gospel with a local service center mechanic
Hope Baptist volunteers and your team from Arizona
get a chance to try on some of the coolest shades in town.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 3 - Glasses Distribution Begins!

What a full day we have had, full on so many levels – full of praying, full of laughter, full of walking, full of talking with literally hundreds of people!

A panoramic picture of part of the city of Pretoria from the Union Buildings on the hillside
We began the day with a trip to the Union Buildings, which is where the President of South Africa and his government officials work. It is a beautiful set of buildings overlooking the whole city. 2nd only to Washington D.C., Pretoria hosts the most embassies in all the world. Pastor Julius sees it as a strategic launching place for the Gospel to be spread and then taken back to all nations. We had a time of prayer for the city and what God was going to do today.

After prayer (and pictures with the huge Nelson Mandela statue, which was just erected here this past December after his death) we headed to the church where we teamed up with several church member volunteers to give out 1,500 cards inviting people to Hope Baptist Church to come in the afternoon for free glasses.   We separated into groups of 2 or 3 and walked up and down the main street of Sunnyside, Pretoria, which was a bustling hub of activity with people everywhere.  Pastor Julius suggested we visit the “salons” and we wondered how few of those there might be in a half mile stretch of road.  Well, we learned that there are a LOT of hair salons in Sunnyside and virtually all of them had business in full swing on a Monday around noon!  It was strange for us, but neither the salon workers or the customers seemed to mind that we walked right in and started talking to them about the event!  Most people were quite interested and asked us many times if the glasses we were speaking of were really free and many said they would come.  In addition to the salons we talked to several people on the street and outside the shops and we handed out most all of the cards, telling them to come to the end of the street where the church building is situated, starting at 2pm.

The picture on the left shows people selecting a free pair of glasses
at the beginning of the day and the right is toward the end of the day
after most of the day's allotment was exhausted.
After we found some lunch, we got back to the church where a large blue and white tent was setup with music playing, and the people began to come for their free glasses. Before they were able to choose a pair of free glasses (sunglasses, prescription or readers) they were asked to meet one-on-one with one of our team members or the volunteers from the church. We introduced ourselves and gathered some information for Hope Baptist to followup later, but we (your FSBCS team and the volunteer church members from Hope Baptist) shared the Gospel today with approximately 200-300 people. We began many relationships and shared the best news they will ever hear! God allowed many divine appointments and we were able to ask them how we could pray for them and we prayed with them on the spot.

There is one story of God's miraculous working that we must tell you. A lady came who spoke an obscure dialect. She sat with Mel Anderson first, but they couldn't understand each other. Three team members from the church came over at separate times to see if they could help translate but none of them understood her either. Finally, the lady looked over at Mel again and said "You help." They were then able to understand each other and Mel proceeded to go through the information form we were following to communicate with the lady. The other three church volunteers didn't know how they were understanding each other. Mel said it was God at work!

We will continue the distribution of more glasses on Tuesday and look forward to many more opportunities to meet and pray with people and share the love of Jesus with them.

Stay tuned for what God will do tomorrow...
Here are a few more pictures from today (click once on the pictures to enlarge):

While at the Union Buildings, Pastor Julius had a run-in with some of the
security staff -- they were asking for prayer!; and we all shared
a time of prayer with these 3 and greeted and hugged them
in the name of the Lord.

Keith praying with one of the visitors

After the first day of distribution, Kevin was asked
to share a closing prayer with the volunteers
from Hope Baptist

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 2 - Sunday Worship

Head Usher Mimi, with visitors from America, Mel and Mona
We began our day with a wonderful breakfast and an informal team meeting. We were at Hope Baptist Church by 10 AM to greet many people and be a part of the pre-service praise and prayer time. For those of us on the team who had never been to the church it felt like we were walking into a dream we were remembering since we've seen so many pictures and heard so many stories. For those who have been before it was like returning to old friends. Cintia and Christina led worship and Pastor Julius brought a great message from Mark 2:23-3:6. His message communicated the truth that God doesn't have to work within the systems of man. We are His number one priority and He should be our number one priority. Praise God for the people who accepted Christ this morning during Julius' time of invitation.

The Hope Baptist praise team backup singers
We were able to have wonderful conversation with so many of the church members and even first-time visitors and everyone was so very friendly and willing to talk to us.  South Africa is a melting pot of Africa similar to Arizona is for the U.S.  We spoke with people from Cameroon, Burundi, Ghana, Nigeria and other African countries, all now calling Pretoria home. 

Lunch and some down time took up the late afternoon. We had dinner with Pastor Julius, Cintia and the Evangelism Director from Hope Baptist named Emmanuel (who also happens to be driving us around as he is skilled in driving on the opposite side of the street with the steering wheel on the “wrong” side too – right turns can be exciting here!).  After dinner we returned to the house where we are staying and began the task of cleaning, sorting and organizing the couple thousand sunglasses, readers & prescription glasses we brought to distribute. 

Antoine was probably the highlight of the day as he drew a crowd after church with his sense of humor and friendliness. While we were cleaning and organizing the massive amounts of glasses he was the comic relief as he tried on many pairs of glasses that didn't fit or looked downright silly on him. 

The rain is falling in Sunnyside as we head to bed. As we listen to the refreshing rain we pray that healing rain comes to the souls of Pretoria.

Here are a few more pictures from today (click once on the pictures to enlarge):

Pastor Julius preaches the Word

Dinner with the team at Nando's in Sunnyside, Pretoria

Antoine, those are perfect!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Travel Day(s) - We've Arrived!

FSBCS South Africa Mission Team #4 in the PHX airport
After a LONG journey on Friday and Saturday, we have arrived in Pretoria!  Once we got Keith past the TSA in Phoenix, where he was "randomly selected" and privileged to spend some time in the Special Screening Room, we jetted off to Atlanta.  From there, we quickly switched terminals and boarded our 15-hour flight to Johannesburg!
We were greeted in the "Jo-berg" airport by Pastor Julius and a few helpers.  In addition to our personal luggage for our 12-day journey, we each also brought a 50 lb bag filled with glasses, sunglasses, bibles and books and pre-school ministry materials that we will be distributing (glasses) or leaving behind for use by Hope Baptist Church, so we needed a little help in hauling all of those items.  We were blessed in that we had no troubles with customs or security (outside of Keith's fun in Phoenix, which we're sure he'll tell you about if you ask him sometime) throughout this journey.

After a short ride to Pretoria, we checked into our accommodations and went out for a nice dinner with Pastor Julius.  Tomorrow is Sunday, so we will participate in the Sunday services at Hope Baptist Church in Sunnyside, Pretoria.

Note the clock on the right side of this blog that will tell you what the current time is in South Africa as you're reading. 9 hours ahead of Phoenix, so it is 11:30pm in SA as we're typing this.

Check back for more soon! 

Here are a few more pictures from today (click once on the pictures to enlarge):

Katie, Mel & Antoine enjoying a "short" ride

Keith claimed he was working on the
Passion Play script -- the high altitudes
must have been inspiring!

Boarding in Atlanta for the L-O-N-G one...


Mona, Kevin, Keith & our new friend Emmanuel at dinner

Monday, February 17, 2014

South Africa Mission Team #4 Ready To Launch on Friday!

The 4th South Africa mission trip team has been been preparing for many weeks now. We can't believe that our trip is right around the corner! Our team consists of Keith Matney, Kevin Horton, Katie Miller, Antoine & Mel Anderson and Mitch & Mona McDonald. What a privilege for us to be able to represent FSBCS in Pretoria as we work with Julius & Cintia Mbu and our South African family of Hope Baptist Church. We all have stories of how God prompted each of us and made things work for us to be able to participate in this amazing trip, the way only God can. We depart the morning of Friday the 21st and will arrive the afternoon of Saturday the 22nd. (By the way, Pretoria is nine hours ahead of Arizona.  We fly from Phoenix to Atlanta, and then a 15-hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg.) We will travel back to the US on Tuesday, March 4th -- arriving home on Wednesday the 5th.
South Africa Mission Team 2014
LtoR: Antoine Anderson, Melanie Anderson, Kevin Horton,
Katie Miller, Mona McDonald, Mitch McDonald & Keith Matney

We anticipate this mission trip to be focused on one-on-one evangelism. We will be sharing our personal stories daily as a lead into sharing the Gospel. We expect to have MANY conversations sharing the hope we have in Christ as we hand out prescription glasses, reading glasses and sunglasses. We will also have the opportunity to be a part of a leadership training for children's workers and church planters.

In one of our recent team meetings a quote from a training video caught our attention. It said, "When men work, men work. When men pray, God works." Now we ask you to please pray for us daily: 
  1. For walls to be broken down so the Gospel can break through
  2. For Julius and Cintia as they plan and direct our work
  3. For our families while we are away
As you pray please know that this is your trip too. We're excited to be able to come back and share with you the great things God has done because of the support of your prayers!
As long as our internet connectivity cooperates, we will try to post here regularly throughout our trip, so check back often!