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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

On our way!

We've sort of dribbled out of the valley in a couple groups (some of us still await the plane to's late, late)

This leg of our travels will rake us as far as the coast then the looong haul to South Africa.

*Keith and Kathy Matney not pictured
- like missing picture day at school 😕

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Its getting real.

Beth Shook, artist/retired professor
Foothills Baptist Church, Ahwatukee
→ this is my third trip serving with Hope Baptist Church

You know it's getting real when you're just throwing things at your suitcase. Forget the list (honestly, forgot where I put it) we are at the point when you remember to take what you thought you should remember to take - throw it on the pile and sort out the particulars later.

Pray as we prepare to go.

The 2018 South Africa team will be in country by South Africa's Thursday morning. Our departures vary a bit with family and work obligations.

Pray for our families and work while we're away.

While we're traveling, if we'll all stand on one foot, pat our stomachs and rub our heads (wait. maybe it's the other way around) perhaps the internet will cooperate and I'll be able to keep you in the loop.

Pray for traveling mercies; connecting flights, long layovers and longer flights.

hmmm...just remembered something I needed to remember to bring. I'm off to go throw it at my luggage, to be sorted out later.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

2018 Trip Almost Ready to Launch!

South Africa Mission Team #8 will be leaving Phoenix for Pretoria, South Africa on September 25th.  Check back here for updates while the trip is underway!