Monday, November 2, 2015

With God, ALL Things Are Possible!

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

With God.

With God.

All. Things. Are. Possible.  

What an astounding claim by Jesus Himself.  We know that we can travel halfway around the world, join with fellow saints in a well organized outreach, tell others about Jesus Christ and, yet, none of this will result in the salvation of souls for His kingdom. It is impossible for man to be saved by human effort alone. Impossible.  But...with God.....all things are possible, including the most glorious miracle of them all....the salvation of our souls!

How we celebrate the miraculous work of God this past week. How we praise Him for His mercy, kindness, compassion and indescribable love poured out on us and through us to others.   How we are humbled by the God of this great universe allowing us to come alongside Him in His profound work here in Sunnyside. How we praise Him for the communion and encouragement of the saints!

We will not know, this side of heaven, the magnitude of riches gained for His glory and His kingdom through this past week or in the coming months and years as Hope Baptist Church soldiers on in this theater of war against the kingdom of darkness.   But we do know that, through one of the great mysteries of our God, it is your prayers which have borne much spiritual fruit in this effort. God does not need us to work, yet He calls us to partner with Him. You who have so faithfully prayed are no less a part of this team than those of us who had the distinct joy of serving in Sunnyside.   From all of us, a hearty and humble thank you.

We are home but we have left a piece of our hearts with the servants of Hope Baptist Church and the people of South Africa.   If you have talked with any team member, I bet they are having a hard time putting to words all that we saw, felt, and experienced in SA. I know I am.  If we can leave you with one request, it is our fervent and heartfelt plea that you continue to pray for the Body of Christ at Hope Baptist and, indeed, throughout all of Pretoria. The harvest is ripe but the workers are few.   Ask God to multiply their number and grant them supernatural strength, insight, wisdom and encouragement as they persevere in this mission field where our Awesome Father has placed them.  Pastors Julius and Cintia are thankful for your continuing support.   Your prayers are never in vain and, in fact, matter more than ever as they follow up with each person (over 560!) who attended the glasses clinic last week.

We couldn't resist a few more photos to wrap things up so here's one of our John Herr, sporting the new cap he purchased for his granddaughter in the Jo'burg airport.....

And another of our faithful and gracious pastors at HBC, Julius and Cintia............

And finally, our very own Pastor Keith Matney, who valiantly conquered the gathering, training, leading, praying and driving (no small feat!) of our ragamuffin team to South Africa in 2015.
His godly leadership is beyond comparison.  Thanks, Pastor Keith.

Expand Your kingdom, Lord Jesus, to Your great glory and Your great fame.   
Amen and amen.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Coming Home!

There is one Body and one Spirit ~ just as you were called to one HOPE that belongs to your call ~ one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.    Eph. 4:4-6

God's word is true.  God's word is light. In Him darkness dare not dwell.  His kingdom advances and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.   How humbled we are to have come alongside these faithful members of the Body of Christ at Hope Baptist who are joining the Holy Spirit in His magnificent work in Sunnyside.  How thrilling to bear witness to God's truth transforming lives and ministering hope.   Our hearts are one in Christ and we are broken to leave. The servants of Jesus here certainly do have a "walk worthy of the calling to which they have been called with all humility" (Eph. 4:1).

All week long, we have been treated as highly honored guests and yesterday, the church put on a big braai (barbeque) for us.  It was a sweet time of fellowship and tears as we prepared to say goodbye to some of the kindest, warmest people on earth.   What a privilege to be here (have we said that before?).

Mel Anderson worked on the data entry and tells us over 500 people came to the clinic !  All praise to Jesus as each one heard the life changing truth of the gospel!

Your on going prayers for the people of this community are so important.  Thank you for your faithfulness.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Thanks Be to God!

After this I looked and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"  Revelation 7:9-10

We have been making a somewhat futile effort to keep track mentally of how many people have made declarations of faith in Jesus Christ but, frankly, it is quite beyond us.  The Lord is glorifying Himself daily by setting captives free from the kingdom of darkness and translating them into the kingdom of His glorious light.  Hallelujah!   All praise and honor to our Jesus Christ who, by His great mercy and grace, has worked through this sweet body of believers at HBC.  It is their vision to see this neighborhood and, indeed, all of Pretoria, tranformed to the glory of God.  We are only along for the ride but what a thrilling ride it has been!   Praises to Jesus for taking our tiny offering of willing hearts and allowing us to join Him in His great work here in Sunnyside.  What an indescribable privilege.  Humbling, to be sure.

If we have not said so before, thank you for sending each of us.  We know it has been a sacrifice of prayer and finances from all of you.   We cannot begin to describe what an honor it has been to represent FSBCS here in South Africa.  So, thank you.

And, it bears repeating, your prayers matter.  They have, through the mystery of God's hand, borne much eternal fruit already.  Please do not grow weary as we enter the home stretch.  There is much work to do here to overcome the darkness which strives to cover this land.   Let's commit to continue  to pray for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ long after we have returned home.  The real work is done through prayer.  Commit today to regularly lift up this body at Hope Baptist as they follow Jesus and His leading.

It is our final morning of the glasses clinic.  Pray God brings whomever He desires to hear the word of life and that everyone who comes lost receives the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.  We seek His heart for these precious ones.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Family of Our God!

To say it is family here would be an understatement.   The sweet smile of this baby is typical of the warm welcoming spirit of our brothers and sisters in Pretoria.   Praise Jesus that we are all family in Him. The world offers nothing in comparison.

Lord of All Nations!

"Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open it's seals,  for You were slain and by Your blood, You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nations......." Rev. 5:9

It is thrilling to see this verse being played out right before our very eyes!  The Lord has brought such a multitude of souls from different countries that it is like a parade of nations around here!   We served many again today and saw the Lord redeem lost souls to His everlasting glory.  What an honor to be instruments in the hands of a saving, merciful God! To Him be all the glory.

Tonight, John Herr and Ron Goodnight are training the business owners of HBC in godly business practices and money management.  The glasses clinic continues through Thursday. Your prayers are not only essential but are bearing much fruit.  Thank you.

Above, John Herr shares the gospel with one of our guests.  Below, Mel Anderson is busy putting all the participant information in the computer so that HBC can follow up with each one.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Faithfulness of Our God ~ Day One

What a spectacularly exhausting day!  We are utterly spent in the best possible way.  Praise Jesus!  Many people came to the eyeglasses clinic and every single one was personally given the gospel and an opportunity to receive Christ and His gift of salvation, as our own Ron Goodnight is sharing here.  We heard declaration after declaration of new commitments to Christ! Your prayers and petitions before the Throne of Grace are being answered in ways He allows us to see and many that are yet unseen.  What a privilege to be here and watch the miracles unfold.

Pastor Jean Claud reminded us this morning that, just like Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus, we are afforded the honor of introducing these precious souls to the King of kings as well.  What freedom is there in knowing that He does the rest.  What a mighty God we serve!

Your prayers are of paramount importance now, not only for those who have been born into the family of God today, but also for those He will bring throughtout the week.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God!
1 John 3:1

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Day Has Arrived!

May we always be filled with the fruit of our salvation, the righteous character produced in our lives by Jesus Christ ~ for this will bring much glory and praise to God!  Phil 1:11

Pastor Keith is Rockin' It!

Our own Pastor Keith Matney did a solid job "rightly dividing the word of truth" today at our Sunday service with Hope Baptist Church.  We had a sweet and powerful time of praise and worship, corporate prayer and children's testimony after which the Holy Spirit imparted a word of encouragement and unity through Pastor Keith.

Thank you for your prayers!  What a warm and welcoming body of believers is this HBC.  They send you their love and gratitude.

We spent the afternoon sorting and packaging the sunglasses and eyeglasses provided by you all for the health clinic kickoff tomorrow.  We anticipate many people and a bounty of opportunity to share the gospel with those who come.  Your prayers are so essential and we are exceedingly grateful.  May God be glorified in every moment.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sunday Morning Glory!

This is Dayo (Joseph) and Promise, two beautiful faces who represent our brothers and sisters in this faithful community of believers called Hope Baptist Church.  Pastor Julius and his ministerial team are also pictured below. What an honor to come alongside them this week.

Your prayers for our outreach yesterday were felt deeply.  We handed out 1,000 flyers and spoke to yet more people after we ran out of flyers. Please pray that many (or all!) are moved to come and meet the King of kings.

Pastor Keith is preaching this morning as we worship with the Hope family.  This afternoon, we will be setting up tents, sorting the glasses you all generously provided, and doing overall prep work for the week long clinic starting tomorrow.  Your contining prayers are cherished by us all.

Sing to the Lord, bless His name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!  For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!
(Psalm 92:2-4a)

Taking It to the Streets

The combined team (FSBCS and Hope Baptist Church) is taking to the streets this afternoon, inviting the neighborhood to come to our eye glass/health clinic starting Monday.  As they come, they will be introduced to the One who created them and longs for relationship with them.  "Go quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.......Go to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that My house may be filled." (Luke 14b and 23).  Pray that people will be compelled by the Holy Spirit through our simple obedience to His direction. Pray they will come and see the King of Creation and that God's house, Heaven itself, will be expanded exponentially in this coming week.  Pray that this steeple (pictured), which can be seen throughout the community, will stand as a beacon of light and that all Sunnyside will know the love and passion of Christ demonstrated through His body here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Package(s) Have Been Delivered!

Flat Jillian and the rest of her team have arrived safely in Pretoria! Thanks for your prayers.  Two ten hour flights, broken up by a longish layover in London, two train rides and one van ride later, we are gratefully ensconced in our lodgings for the week.  The challenge of the day is staying awake long enough to put our internal clocks right for the week.  A small challenge to be certain but a challenge nonetheless at this moment.

As we waited for a rental van, we were greeted by a 1,000 plus student protest on the street, accompanied by full police and swat team escort.  Quite a sight to see, indeed.

We spent the afternoon with Julius and Cintia, pastors of Hope Baptist Church in Sunnyside.  We are looking forward to spending the week serving with them.

We are so thankful for your ongoing prayers.   This is an evening of rest in order to be prepared for the coming week.  We look ahead to the work of a GREAT God who's heart is for the people of this city, this nation and this vast land.

"Not unto us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness" Ps. 115:1

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's Go Time!

It looks like a great day to embark on our journey to see the beautiful people of HOPE Baptist Church in Pretoria, SA!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3).   Indeed.   It is that living HOPE which spurs us on to follow Jesus wherever He may lead ~ here, there, across the street or across the Great Pond called the Atlantic. We join with Isaiah, crying, "here we are, Lord, send us!".  Thank you for the indescribable privilege of representing you all as we journey.

Our prayer needs are simple.  May God go before and "open doors of opportunity for the gospel" (Col 4:3). And, as He opens those doors, may we "open our mouths boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel" (Eph 6:19).  This was the cry of Paul's heart and it is our desire as well.  May the Holy Spirit fill us to overflowing with His Presence so that others will be drawn into His kingdom of glorious light!  May we be an encouragement and refreshment to the precious body of believers who are already heeding the call of Jesus in Pretoria. May God use us to the utmost to accomplish His plans, His purposes and His heart for this time. May each person we encounter along the way be drawn to the One True Hope who is Jesus Christ.

Your prayers for our loved ones who remain behind are profoundly appreciated. The enemy loves to throw curve balls of discouragement and doubt.  Pray all of our eyes remain locked on Jesus.

Thank YOU for doing the work of prayer. Missions is answered prayer and we are so grateful for your faithfulness.  "God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. They outlive the lives of those who utter them."  (E.M. Bounds). Thanks for investing in what truly matters.

We cannot wait to report the good news of what God Himself is doing in South Africa!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Team 5 Getting Ready to Go to South Africa!

Pastor Keith and his team are almost packed up and ready to go!  We are still looking for about 300 pairs of readers (no more prescription or sunglasses) to complete our inventory for the eye glasses clinic in Pretoria. Feel free to bring those to the church office during business hours on Monday or Tuesday.  THANK YOU for being so generous already!

The atmosphere is brimming with anticipation for all the Lord will accomplish through this journey of faith. We want to be pencils in the hand of God.  He does the writing. (Mother Teresa) We pencils have nothing to do with it except to make ourselves available.  What Grand Adventure awaits us remains to be seen but we are ready to follow Jesus to where He is working in South Africa.  
His face, His heart. This is all we seek. 

Your prayers have paved the path for us to go and, through those faithful prayers, God mysteriously works.  We cherish each one and implore you to continue.  
Prayer is not preparation for the battle.  Prayer IS the battle.