Monday, November 8, 2010

Celebrating our Saltiness

On Friday we held our final Hand in Hand conference of the year with more than 80 church leaders in attendance. Our theme has been “Being Salt and Light” and we’ve learned so much together!

At this final conference, Pastor Abram taught us how being unified as a church body helps us to be Godly examples and effective witnesses to others. Next we spent time in worship and prayer, and sharing amazing testimonies of how God has worked in and through us this year. The goal was to not only learn from and encourage each other, but also to celebrate!

Amy Riep ended the conference with a powerful teaching from The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12. This passage just precedes Christ’s calling to be Salt and Light, and teaches us the attitude we need to carry it out.

Humbleness. Godly sorrow over sin. Repentance. Hunger and thirst for righteousness. Mercy. Peacemaking. Endurance.

She also gave an interesting fact about salt – that the Roman armies would pour salt out on their conquered lands to basically render them unusable and prevent them from being taken back by their enemies. As salt, not only do we season the earth with the hope of Christ, but we also claim territory for His kingdom that Satan cannot take back.

What a great day! I’m so thankful for the opportunity to equip and strengthen local leaders, and to also be strengthened and encouraged myself.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Outreach Season Celebration

Yesterday we celebrated with our interpreters the end of our 2010 Outreach season.

Abram began with a powerful teaching on knowing and fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives, and how we each are uniquely gifted with skills, talents, and experiences for the specific work we’re called to. It was great to celebrate our callings and giftings, and also to reflect on how God has used each of us over the year.

We’re so thankful that God has called this amazing team - men and women who are strong in their faith, bold in sharing the Gospel, and such encouragers as mission teams stretch themselves to be used by God.

And what would a party be without gifts and chocolate cake with sprinkles? Yes, I attempted baking again and it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Summit Celebration

This weekend we celebrated our 2010 Leadership Summit program, thanking our coaches and enjoying a fun day together. As the coaches each shared testimonies from the year, there was a common thread – how thankful they were to have grown in their own faith and leadership. As one of our coaches, Busisiwe, summed up “God changed each of us so that we can change others.” That’s definitely something to be celebrated!

Leadership Summit is our AIDs Prevention and Leadership Development program offered in the public schools. We employ and equip a team of nationals who in turn teach classes for grades 7-9 reaching thousands of students each week.

The class topics are tough ones, and ones that are otherwise not talked about - living a life of purpose, God’s design for saving sex for marriage, and open discussions about other sensitive areas such as drugs, alcohol and peer pressure.

Imagine talking about sex and marriage with a room full of teenagers!! Our coaches are awesome!!

This weekend it was such a blessing and privilege to spend more time with our wonderful Leadership Summit team, and to celebrate the countless ways God has worked in and through each of them.

Please pray with us as we plan for an exciting and impactful 2011.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lessons Learned

One thing mission trips have in common is how the Lord teaches some pretty amazing lessons. We recently hosted our Thrive Adult mission team. As the team served in Intabazwe doing relationship evangelism and children’s ministry, many lives were changed including their own.

When asked about what the Lord had taught them during this trip, here is what a few had to say.

"God taught me to trust Him completely - that even when I can’t see things with my human eyes, with my eyes of faith all things are possible! I just have to keep pressing forward to do all that He has for me to do, even the hard stuff, even when I don’t understand, and especially when it seems like something that I can’t do because with God ALL things are possible!” – DawnMarie

“God has opened my eyes to so many things. But I think the one thing is how I just need to always follow through on what he says. God has also opened my heart to ministry, more than I ever thought I was going to do…knowing that this is the start of my life in ministry is so exciting! I just need to be patient and wait on Gods timing. That’s the only way things really will work out.” - Christian

"God let me know that I need to stop trying to box him in with my own thoughts and preconceived notions. I could not really imagine going to a house and being received the way that I was. Even in the hospital, I couldn’t imagine us having such an effect on the patients. God reinforced in my mind that at need to get rid of my preconceived notions, focus on spreading the love and good news of the gospel, and let God do the rest.” - Chike

Please pray for these folks as they return home, that they continue to step out bodly for Christ.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Great Expectations

Have you ever been on a short-term mission trip? If so, what were your expectations? And did God meet them, exceed them, or change them completely?

Our Thrive Africa mission team arrived this weekend. Folks from NY, OH, TX, and CO - all with diverse gifts to share and diverse expectations for this trip. I love seeing how God builds the perfect team to use for his purposes.

Here are some of the things we all are expecting from this trip.

- To be used, and to become bolder in fulfilling the Great Commission
- To serve people in need as the hands and feet of Christ
- To grow in our own faith as we pull out of daily distractions and focus solely on God
- To develop deep friendships with each other, and the people we meet here in South Africa
- To sharpen and encourage each other, as we each have unique gifts and experiences to share
- To expect the unexpected, after all God has more in store for us that we’ll ever know

Based on experience, I know that God will far exceed these expectations as he works both in and through each of us. How exciting!!